Monday, December 17, 2012

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Director:  Philip Kaufman
Studios:  United Artists, Solofilm
Starring:  Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright, Leonard Nimoy
Tagline:  Get Some Sleep
MPAA Rating:  PG
Genre:  thriller, horror, drama, science-fiction, psychological thriller, alien invasion, aliens
Scare score:  B+
Rating:  A

Plot overview:  After an alien species lands in San Francisco, many strange flowers begin to rapidly sprout up across the city.  Soon after, coworkers from the Department of Public Health Elizabeth Driscoll (Adams) and Matthew Bennell (Sutherland) begin noting strange changes in the actions and attitudes of people around them.  Growing increasingly concerned that a serious health concern has fallen upon the people of San Francisco, they team up with friends Jack (Goldblum) and Nancy Bellicec (Cartwright) to combat the aliens taking the forms of the city's habitants.

I saw the 1956 original a few years ago, and I just realized I saw the 2007 remake in theaters, but tonight I felt like watching this remake.  After the fact, I must say I'm really pleased with my choice, as this selection was both enjoyable, pleasantly scary, and simply impressive.

The first thing I noticed was several familiar faces, from previous movies I've blogged about, namely with Art Hindle of 1979's The Brood in the role of Driscoll's partner Geoffrey and then of course Veronica Cartwright who played the memorable Cathy Brenner in Hitchcock's 1963 The Birds.  We're just starting to develop a little horror film family here, aren't we?

As major plusses for the movie, we have good acting and good special effects.  The rapid growth of alien flowers on plants in one of the first scenes looked both realistic and interesting.  Later on we contrast the beauty of a flower with the growth of the large pods, which will both disturb and gross out the audience as they pulsate and 'give birth' to alien clones.  Throughout the film we are also treated to images of bodies covered in sinews and veins, as well as some blood, which are sure to make viewers uneasy.  Fun stuff, especially since I've seen worst effects in movies that have been released more recently.

As is typical in most horrors, during the whole film we are forced to follow the plight of the small group of protagonists as it seems the world turns against them.  Luckily we are following a group of likable actors and characters, which not only makes the film more interesting, but it also allows us to establish an almost emotional bond with these people and their situation, thereby causing us to stress over the final outcome and root for human victory (for the most part) up through the movie's final seconds.  The beautiful Brooke Adams provides us with a fun and easily likable Elizabeth Driscoll, who is both smart and aware much sooner than the other protagonists concerning the alien invasion.  She is nicely complimented by Sutherland, who portrays Bennell both with humor and drama.  Smaller performances by Goldblum and Cartwright as man and wife add more dramatics and mystery, and the presence of Nimoy disconcerts us further as we debate who is good and who is bad.

What I probably liked most about the film is the psychological aspect.  From the get go we aren't even really sure who is human and who the aliens have already got to.  I must give a big shout out to the extras in this movie, who made it silently terrifying as their presence of San Fran citizens is both omnipresent and threatening.  Even when they are still normal they seem off, odd, and potentially dangerous.  The mere plot of this invasion is a very scary concept: "my boyfriend isn't himself; my wife isn't herself; it's my husband- but it's not."  We keep hearing this coming from panicked people, including our protagonists, throughout the movie, but it seems as though everyone else is ignoring them.  Could it be that the majority is already under alien influence?  We find ourselves questioning who is human and who isn't every time we see or meet a new character: the uncertainty of this silent terror is brilliant.  Furthermore, towards the end, we even begin to question if it is worth fighting an innumerable foe, or is it easier to just peacefully give in?  You must decide.

As the alien invasion becomes more complete, terror grows even stronger for our protagonists and suspense grows even higher for us viewers.   This movie is sure to keep us entertained until the last seconds, without many dull moments to complain about.  The mystery persists long enough that, although we piece bits and pieces together ourselves, we don't get major answers or gross, revealing images until far into the film.  With this tactic, the plot grows more complex, and victory seems just as possible as defeat.

Lastly, this film is enhanced by the eerie and suspenseful tunes of Danny Zeitlin.  Without remaining overly '70s, it adds suspense and drama to many scenes of the film, starting in the first scene.

Final critique:  There isn't much more I can think of to say about this film except that I really genuinely enjoyed it.  The terror is both subtle and outright, and the fear is both physical and psychological.  Good acting enhances a creative and always-questionably-possible plot that is sure to get audiences thinking, "what if?"  I recommend this remake for most crowds, though while only a PG film, there are several scenes that are sure to scare you, or at least disturb you a little bit *cue the high pitch noise the aliens make when alarming others*

Friday, December 14, 2012

American Horror Story, S2, E9 - (2012)

"The Coat Hanger"

Creators:  Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk
Producers:  20th Century Fox
Channel:  FX
Starring:  Jessica Lange, James Cromwell, Joseph Fiennes, Sara Paulson, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Zachary Quinto; ft. Ian McShane, Dylan McDermott
TV Rating:  MA SLV
Genre:  television, horror, drama, insane asylum, serial killer, aliens
Scare score:  B-
Rating:  A-

Plot overview:  Around present day, a troubled man named Johnny (McDermott) reveals to a therapist (Brooke Smith) that he has murderous impulses, which happen to run in the family.  Back in 1964, Lana (Paulson) learns that she is pregnant and uses this information to trick the restrained Dr. Thredson (Quinto) into confessing that he is Bloody Face.  Dr. Arden (Cromwell) begins to believe that extraterrestrials might be involved in Kit's (Peters) case, and he concocts a dangerous plan to have them show up again.   Sister Jude (Lange) has been admitted to Briarcliff as a patient, and must begin working on her redemption.  Lastly, Monsignor Howard (Fiennes) reaches out to help straighten the path of patient Leigh (McShane), but the baptism doesn't quite go as planned.

Lots to talk about.  First off, I found this episode to be pretty fulfilling.  I mean there was nothing new or bold about it, and in fact it had some of that old familiar American Horror Story: Season One feel to it, but I like that we were finally caught up in various subplots.  It wasn't really too scary, and I acknowledge that my scare score seems a bit high.  Nonetheless, I felt that the episode was fulfilling.

Not that it's a shocker to anybody, but ex-Sister Jude has joined the loonies and is now a patient in the very institution she once ran with an iron fist and wooden switch.  I didn't think I would like this turning of the tables, but now Lange can really show off how bada** she is and how much trouble she might now cause the administration that has turned against her.  Unfortunately, given our knowledge of this series, while it's nice to think she might beat the system and help Lana... chances are slim.  Especially since Sister Mary Eunice (Rabe) is, uh, Lucifer?

Lana came so far tonight.  Is it sad that in today's world, as soon as I heard that the name of the episode was "The Coat Hanger" I knew exactly what was going to happen?  Gross stuff; classic AMH playing with day to day horror along with aliens and the like.  Lana said it best when she called her unwanted pregnancy the biggest cosmic joke of all.  While we would like to think she is ultimately going to escape, both Thredson's disappearance from bondage and the fact that we see baby Johnny Thredson all grow up makes me think the absolute worst.

I'm still warming up to the whole aliens bit, and this episode certainly helped.  They're so mysterious!  Bravo Arden for wanting to embrace this theory and see why Kit is so interesting for this species from outer space.  The drugs and needles to the heart bit was reminiscent of Pulp Fiction, and I'm sure when the next episode picks up it will be another rush for time to see if Kit gets the drugs and pressure to the heart that he needs to be revived!


Two things I was a little iffy about.  First: Grace?  Like, you died lady.  And for what I think is less than a week, or certainly less than a month, that's a big belly!  *Aliens*  Looking forward to learning more about what this third kind will be like!  Second thing:  I'm happy Monsignor is getting killed off.  I wanted it the whole episode.  But the crucifixion was more than a little cliché.  Oh well, happy to see Frances Conroy show her face again and happy to see him go!  

Final critique:  Great midseason finale which simultaneously answered many questions and left us with more questions to be answered!  Our shot into present day Bloody Face seems to wind up several of the 1964 subplot, but who knows how the show will resolve itself.  Everyone will probably getting up abducted.  Biggest question now is if evil (Sister Mary Eunice) will be overcome by good.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Salem's Lot (1979)

Director:  Tobe Hooper
Studio:  Warner Bros.
Starring:  David Soul, James Mason, Lance Kerwin, Reggie Nalder
Tagline:  The Ultimate in Terror!
MPAA Rating:  PG
Genre:  TV miniseries, vampire, haunted house
Scare score:  B
Rating:  B

Plot overview:  Upon returning to his hometown of Salem's Lot, Maine, author Ben Mears (Soul) begins noticing weird events plaguing the townspeople.  The occurrences seem to be centered around the old Marsten House - where Ben had a traumatic event as a child - and its new owners the mysterious Mr. Straker (Mason) and the talked-about-but-never-seen Mr. Barlow (Nalder).  As a strange sickness starts coming over more people - marked by strange bites on the neck - it comes down to Ben and the brave but young Mark Petrie (Kerwin) to fight off the evil lurking in the Marsten House.

This was a fun storyline for a creative and well-executed miniseries.  No surprise that it was enjoyable coming from the Stephen King novel of the same name (the protagonist is a writer from Maine... like duh).  '70s aside, it was enjoyable although not the most original plot (vampires invading small town America) - then again, that plot is overkilled throughout the '80s, so if this is the first time it was really done, please let me know.

The characters in this miniseries kept me really interested, and they added a sense of depth such that you might find in a novel.  At first I felt some reservations about Ben, but I grew to like him pretty quickly.  This isn't the only time we've seen a torn or troubled writer in a King novel/ adaptation, nor is it the first time we've seen the theme of a return (to a childhood home, memories, fears).  Mark - acted very well I thought by the young Lance Kerwin - was an interesting character as well, who due to his odd obsession with monsters and horror (!!!) may come off as strange, but ultimately it helps him fight the evil vampires invading Salem's Lot.  Lastly, I found Bonnie Bedelia's performance as love interest Susan Norton to be a breath of fresh air throughout the two-part production.

On the evil side, I think James Mason did just about as well as he could in the role of the creepy, nervous, and often quiet Mr. Straker.  I enjoyed the dynamic approach he employed of not only being evil, heartless, and dangerous, but also perhaps scared of his own partner/ master.  And then we have the face of evil himself: Mr. Barlow.  I really am happy with the Nosferatu approach they took on his makeup and actions.  The various vampires throughout the miniseries were pretty impressive to me, altogether avoiding the almost cheesiness we see in '80s vampires flicks.  The yellow eyes were honestly creepy for me to watch.  The pairing of vampire scenes with good, classic, and basic scary music was well done, resulting in a few frightening sequences.  Again, nothing we haven't seen in other movies, but still just nicely done.  I love the eerie, bald, pale, creepily-fanged vampires.  Enough with the romantic Eastern European guy.  This is scary stuff.  Great makeup; good scenes.

My complaint about Salem's Lot has to do with some awkward or hasty actions in the script/ acting.  First off, I don't understand how (or why) Ben and Susan start dating.  He seemed to be looking for somebody in the park, except they had never met, so I don't get why he stumbled upon her (but seemingly with purpose) in a park, struck up a conversation (about his book), and by the end of the day they are hooking up at ~the lake~.  Like what?  There are just some strange character interactions throughout which left me unconvinced about the final product.  I understand that this is an adaption of the book, which means that a lot of details, plot, and character development had to be left out or modified but still.


My biggest problem comes shortly before the end of the film.  After Ben and Mark successfully kill of the head honcho vampires, I understand that Ben wants to 'purge' the town and completely destroy the house of 'inherent' evil that has affected him since he was a kid.  Now I honestly don't know if I blinked for too long, or maybe I fell asleep for a minute, but as far as I'm concerned Ben broke into the house, saw how all the vampires were locked in that closet in the basement, but he never once saw Susan - am I right?  Then as soon as Barlow is dead he burns down the house and says to himself something like "Sorry, Susan, but it has to be done."  Yeah but like, did he even see her?  Did he even search the house for her?  I for one did not see Susan locked in the basement or turned into a vampire, so I don't know why he burned down the house with her in it.  As soon as the fire started I realized we were about to return to Guatemala and see Susan again, but in the moment I just do not see why he gave up on her so easily.  I hope I missed something, because otherwise that is a huge flaw.

Final critique:  This two part miniseries provides an interesting though somewhat typical vampire plot, and it is only hurt by the inability to develop its characters and plot as much as a novel can.  The acting keeps us locked to the screen pretty much the whole time, and we eagerly anticipate the fun scares and creepy thrills throughout.  Great makeup and good pairing with music results in a well executed thriller.  Recommended for all audiences - I mean heck, it's only PG.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Deliverance (1972)

Director:  John Boorman
Studios:  Warner Bros.
Starring:  Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox
Tagline:  What Did Happen on the Cahulawassee River?; This is the Weekend they Didn't Play Golf
MPAA Rating:  R
Genre:  drama, thriller, adventure, hillbillies
Scare score:  C+
Rating:  B

Plot overview:  Planning to embrace a rough, manly weekend on the white waters of the Cahulawassee River in the Georgia backwoods, city boys Ed (Voight), Lewis (Reynolds), Ned (Beatty), and Drew (Cox) and their two canoes head out for adventure.  Shortly after setting off, however, the men learn that neither the river nor its inbred and violent inhabitants are easy obstacles to overcome.  The men must soon fight to survive both nature and the locals while simultaneously questioning the defense tactics used for and against them.

This movie started out and I liked where it was headed.  Immediately I found myself wondering if this was one of the first major films that explored the American boondocks to team the basic concept of getting lost with the horrible idea of violent, inbred, and ill-mannered locals to terrorize modern, gentrified audiences.  In many ways I couldn't help but feel like it was a grown up, more scary and sexual version of Stand By Me.  Well shame on me for expecting any intense, fast-paced horror/action as this is a '70s film and ended up being much more of an adventure with a few thrills than a true horror.  That's not to say I didn't enjoy the film, but I did feel a bit underwhelmed after it ended.  I can enjoy a slow-paced movie, but I feel that this flick really would have been enhanced by some more action.

This movie is pretty well known for its music, or should we say the lack thereof.  In fact, about halfway through the movie I found myself awing at the lack of additional sounds besides the running water and animalistic wilderness.  I loved it.  Also, who doesn't love a little banjo every now at then?  Sound is usually what makes the scariest moments of a horror movie, well, scary.  I have to say that this film did a wonderful job of building up suspense and delivering a few thrills without unnecessary sounds and musical pieces.

This was a very masculine piece of work, stressing not only the varying levels of manliness among the four protagonists, but also the general sense of masculinity that defines, in my opinion, manifest destiny, rough explorations, camping, the outdoors, and America in general (specifically the less-tamed parts).  The River itself is treated as a powerful, merciless, and dynamic character throughout the movie.  Lewis especially has some great lines dealing with this topic, regarding "beating" the river or winning some great "game."  Thus, I think the violation scene in the woods is important because it strips one protagonist of the masculinity which seems so important.  Even though I thought it was really obvious which character would be the victim, and even though at least 3 of the 4 men were already viewed by the locals as emasculated since they are just city folk.

Speaking of, Reynolds did an interesting job as the bulky, brave, and macho Lewis.  The role might be a bit over the top but still important for his attempted connection with nature and role as guide for the group.  I liked the part when he thinks he hears something in the darkness, but upon returning to camp he simply does not know.  Deep.

I liked Voight as Ed, the more quiet and passive but still manly protagonist of the film.  I found this character more easy to relate to as he was usually an easygoing guy - until of course the whole life or death situation springs up and he must hunt humans.  The role is honestly very complex especially since we see most into his conscience during the film's events.  His passivity but ability to act in times of need, plus his hinted drinking bouts, troubles with concentration, and ultimately haunting guilt was all very interesting to me.

I did not like the character Drew and I'm not sure if it was more or less the fault of Ronny Cox.  Drew from the get go was very strange to me; an oddly feminine member of the group (not because of his musical skills, but simply because of Cox's delivery) with very poorly delivered lines.  In fact I found myself getting angry at the awkwardness of his lines.  I'm never a big fan of the character that can't keep his wits about him in a film, so that plus odd, unbelievable lines and a general chickening-out just made me not a big fan!

My other problem with the film comes from awkward script writing both in lines and the general reactions of the characters.  Obviously I've never had to fight my way through a wilderness/ canoe weekend gone wrong, but I didn't think the characters' reactions to sexual assault, murder, digging a shallow grave, burying three bodies, crashing their canoes, and enduring other injuries seemed natural.  There were also too many scenes in which the actors randomly yelled their lines or repeated (while yelling) what the other characters were saying even though no one was far enough away from anyone else to merit the volume or unnecessary repetition.  Okay, so that is just one scene, but I hated it.

Otherwise, I found an especially intense amount of suspense building up towards the film's end, when were are left torn between whether or not the men would be caught or let off.  It wasn't exactly exciting, but it kept me interested beyond the film's major action.  Another good theme I found myself looking for (obviously based off the film's religiously directed title) was religious imagery and symbolism regarding the characters and their deeds.  This added a great depth to the work.

Final critique:  Although this film is slow, it does see some pretty interesting action or at least suspense during its 110 minutes.  The characters are strong and worth following although the acting is not always there and perhaps the script should have been looked at again.  A modern remake that closely maintains the action of this film without adding too much unnecessary gore or drama - yes, I'm talking about a perfect balance of plot maintenance with only some tasteful action - would be really great to watch.  All in all, this film has a lot more than it appears to on its surface.  Imagine how far back this set the South's image!  Count me out of any boys' weekend in the backwoods of America's South or West.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

American Horror Story, S2, E8 - (2012)

"Unholy Night"

Creators:  Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk
Producers:  20th Century Fox
Channel:  FX
Starring:  Jessica Lange, James Cromwell, Lily Rabe, Sara Paulson, Evan Peters, Zachary Quinto; ft. Ian McShane
TV Rating:  MA SLV
Genre:  television, horror, drama, insane asylum, serial killer, holiday
Scare score:  B
Rating:  B+

Plot overview:  The featured inmate on this week's episode is a mentally disturbed former thief (McShane) who landed himself in Briarcliff after murdering several families while dressed up as Santa Claus several years earlier.  During Briarcliff's previously banned Christmas party, possessed Sister Mary Eunice (Rabe) urges him to don a Santa costume once again and release his anger as he did years ago.  Sister Jude (Lange) becomes involved in a dangerous game of loyalty between Dr. Arden (Cromwell) and Sister Mary Eunice.  Lastly, Lana (Paulson) and Kit (Peters) figure out how to handle their knowledge about the true identity of Bloody Face.

It took me a while to realize I liked this episode.  I must say the Christmas stuff was almost overkill, but then I realized it was freaking me out and my normal reaction was to brush it off as nonsense.  Aside from a bangin Christmas music soundtrack, this episode had fun with the perversion of Christmas traditions: decorating the tree, hanging the star, giving gifts, and the Santa costume in general.  I specifically thought the flashback scene of when McShane first uses the costume and breaks into that one house was really disturbing.  Playing with Christmas, turning it psychological and dark, was uncomfortable and downright scary at times.  Classic American Horror Story, taking things we care about and making them potentially horrifying.  And while I don't agree with it, I really loved the line "There is no God, but there is a Santa Claus."  Ho ho ho, that was a good one.

Otherwise, what made me really like this episode (once I started putting the pieces together) was how deep it was, especially in the script, and how rich it was in symbolism.  Something about the Christmas theme certainly helped, as well as all the exploration into religion that went on - overall, this exploration of faith, the meaning of belief, and the presence of God and/or the devil clearly seems to be a major theme of the whole season.  In some weird way, between the alien abductions and talk of the Holocaust, there was something deep about this episode.

A problem I've been having so far with this season is the almost randomness and definite frustration involving each of the various subplots happening within Briarcliff.  We have the pact between Dr. Arden and the Monsignor (Joseph Fiennes) that we don't entirely understand yet.  The dangerous and questionably romantic game between Dr. Arden and Sister Mary Eunice/ the devil inside her.  The internal and spiritual struggle of Sister Jude as well as her desire to help free Sister Mary Eunice.  Lana's experience with Bloody Face and general presence in Briarcliff.  Kit's innocence, search for Alma, feelings for Grace.  Kit and Lana's imprisonment of Dr. Thredson.  The mutants outside of Briarcliff.  The aliens abducting everybody.  The fact that we know Briarcliff gets shut down.  The fact that there's still a malicious spirit lurking in solitary confinement, as well as an equally malicious Bloody Face roaming Briarcliff in 2012.  Like need I go on?

It was a breath of fresh air after this episode to see Kit and Lana take some action, not that it resolves anything but at least Lana didn't fall back into Thredson's clutches.  I enjoyed Sister Jude's plight throughout the episode, and I enjoy that she is finally receiving this big calling from above.  There was some poetic justice in the abuse suffered at the hands of "Santa Claus" as well as her own switch.  Maybe this baptism by blood will only help her on her mission.

Final critique:  I understand that this is a TV show and the writers need to make it last a few more episodes.  Still- I'm getting restless and I need answers.  The plot has been pretty interesting, so what is left in the season had better be satisfying.  The terror in this episode wasn't the jumpy, screaming type, but more so a deeper, darker, psychological horror you had to think about and then accept.  The perversion of Christmas, the murder and abuse of innocents, the victory of evil over good: these are the situations we were shown today under the tunes of pleasant Christmas music.  Good acting all around, specifically for the characters who were allowed to explore a little bit outside of their standard selves.  Not a fan of that little girl's "Massachusetts" accent in the beginning... like literally, start setting movies and shows in nondescript places with simple accents.  Sorry that I get hung up on these things.  Looking forward to next week.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

American Horror Story, S2, E7 - (2012)

"Dark Cousin"

Creators:  Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk
Producers:  20th Century Fox
Channel:  FX
Starring:  Jessica Lange, James Cromwell, Sara Paulson, Evan Peters, Zachary Quinto, Lily Rabe; ft. Lizzie Brocheré, Frances Conroy
TV Rating:  MA SLV
Genre:  television, horror, drama, insane asylum, serial killer, supernatural
Scare score:  B-
Rating:  A-

Plot overview:  In this installment, various characters are visited by the Angel of Death (Conroy) who gives them the difficult choice of whether or not they are ready to die.  The possessed Sister Mary Eunice (Rabe) demonstrates more of her dark power, and she hints that she still has a lot of work to accomplish at Briarcliff.  Sister Jude (Lange) continues struggling with the skeletons in her closet, but we learn that some of these were never actually skeletons to begin with.  Lana (Paulson) valiantly attempts to escape from Bloody Face, and Kit (Peters) tries to rescue Grace (Brocheré) from her dark fate at Briarcliff.

This was certainly an action-packed episode, and while I ultimately enjoyed it it made me angry for a few reasons.  I will get to those towards the end.

I think the action in this episode was great.  It was a powerful episode that demanded a lot from various characters experiencing different extremes of pain, sadness, and momentary happiness or release.  That being said, good acting made the episode enjoyable even beyond the gripping action that kept us on the edge of our seats throughout (actually I was standing up ironing the whole time).

About all that action.  I understand that American Horror Story is not a 'happy' series by any means (neither for the 'good' nor 'bad' guys).  While characters in Season 1 may have ultimately found peace, it certainly wasn't what I would consider a happy ending.  What I'm trying to say is at no point during this exciting episode did I ever expect any character to escape from their predicament, blow open Briarcliff's dark secrets, and live happily ever after.  Still, this episode came very cross to crossing a dangerous line about what was actually important for the plot and what was happening just for the sake of happening.  At least I feel this way.


Specifically, I love that we recently learned Bloody Face's true identity and that Lana found herself the prisoner of his sick mental dilemma.  I think her imprisonment in the cellar was chilling and exciting EVEN THOUGH one of my Cardinal Rules is broken in this episode (although it was handled well and Quinto as an actor is professional and easy to respect, so I found the violation was more poetic for a criminally insane psychopath more than perverted garnish) AND even though she was stuck in one spot - which, as we've learned from shows like The Walking Dead on AMC, can never last too long without being frustrating and stupid.  Whoops.  Back to my point: Lana's time in Bloody Face's cellar was impermanent and ephemeral from the beginning.  Still, the fact that this episode saw her escape, really have a chance at freedom, shortly thereafter witness more violence and anger of the male sex, and then wind up probably in worse condition than before in good ole Briarcliff - well it happened so suddenly and resulted in massive frustration.  Same with Kit, who only manages to escape for a short time before getting cornered again.  I enjoyed the fast-paced action of this episode, but I didn't enjoy that we're back where we started.  This week's episode will be really important in determining what's in store for our characters who almost escaped.

Also, did I miss how "Raspers" managed to randomly escape from his/ her/ its spot in the woods and enter the asylum?  At least we finally get to see what was lurking behind those trees the whole time.  I'm assuming we'll finally learn more about its identity/ purpose/ Dr. Arden's and Sister Mary Eunice's bigger plans in this week's episode.  At least I hope.

Does anyone else think Lily Rabe is doing an awesome job this season?  Sister Mary Eunice must be such a fun character to portray, and I think Rabe does the 'no nonsense, tacitly evil' possessed part even better than the sweet and repentant nun bit.  She is entertaining and interesting.  I am waiting for more of her mystery and 'mission' to be revealed.

This episode was also very important for Lange.  I think we see how important Sister Jude is now, even so far as having a mission from God to right the wrongs of Briarcliff... or something.  Her character should certainly gain more faith and strength now that a massive guilt has been lifted from her.  Her immediate fate, however, does not seem so certain as this episode ends with the waitresses at the diner discussing calling Briarcliff to take her in, if only for the night.  Well we know Briarcliff by now and we know things don't work out so nicely 'overnight.'  If Sister Jude gets admitted to Briarcliff I will probably go crazy myself.  Maybe I'm dumb, but I have so much faith for this season, even though we know American Horror Story isn't your typical Hollywood product with a happy ending.

Final critique:  While action-packed, this episode found several characters - as well as the viewer - winding back up at the beginning of a long and treacherous circle.  So many questions are left to be answered now, especially since we were in the middle of an intense scene when the episode ended.  At this point, I am hoping for more answers and less mysteries - but knowing this series that might not happen soon!