Tag Archives: Review

After Nightfall Season 2, Episode 6

After last week’s episode and a stiff drink, Episode 6 is upon us and the drama, in a lot of ways, has come to a head. I’d be lying if I said this was my favourite episode so far, but it definitely has two of my favourite moments of the series!

Episode 6 opens where Episode 5 left off, with Angela attending the crime scene of Brad’s murder. Coroner Wendy is back, and they wonder out loud whether it’s the same killer who got Troy and Simon. It’s could be, but there’s a few key differences. Troy was strangled (although it’s been confirmed by the creators that the same person killed Simon), and Simon was stabbed twice, while Brad unfortunately got more than 20. But Wendy still says it’s possible. And there’s also a chance they might be next.

Is the series hinting that Quintin might not have killed Troy? Did he just go after Brad in an attempt to regain some sort of control after what Colin said to him? He’s not off my suspect list, because there’s a good chance he did it. But the truth might not be so black and white. Also, the McLeavey name is literally all over this. The first place the cops are going to look is that family, because Colin is the real estate agent. There’s no hiding from that fact. Colin could very well be implicated for this murder. In fact, he already is because of the crime scene. Here’s hoping Brad’s time of death proves Colin couldn’t have done it.

Speaking of which, Renee has arrived at the interrogation room to represent Colin against a highly cynical Zara, who despite having no hard evidence, declares her mission to prove Colin’s guilt. Neither Renee nor Colin are taking kindly to these accusations, but least impressed of all is none other than Troy himself. We saw last week he’s now able to physically throw things, and in this case he’s turned his attention to a stack of papers on Zara’s desk. We don’t see what happens next, but Colin talking to Troy like this is sure to raise a few eyebrows.

Meanwhile, Hayden’s come round to visit the McLeaveys, and Justine discovers her husband has been keeping more secrets from her (opening the iPad, Troy’s phone, working with Hayden etc). I think Justine’s about reached her breaking point, and justifiably so. Especially now Colin’s been released and hasn’t come home straight away. I really feel for Justine, probably more than almost any other character (except Nathan of course). She’s been through so much and arguably she’s dealing with everything on her own, even more so now she’s found out at least part of what Isobel’s been up to. Someone get that woman a martini.

The episode hasn’t even reached the halfway point. Oscar’s returned to his bookstore to find the place ransacked, and Kobie is waiting for him. Oscar’s pleas fall on deaf ears, and what follows is a brutal beating involving a bike chain. Oscar may be dead now, but the cardinal rule is that if a character doesn’t die on screen, they don’t really die. So until that’s confirmed, I think Oscar is going to stick around for a little bit longer.

Over at the park, Dave is with Quintin and Leanne, waiting for potential new clients. Quintin is restless (!) and Amaia is suspiciously absent.
A trio of university students/drug dealers arrive (Elijah, Sasha and Xander, according to the credits) along with their new head of security….Ryan. I wonder who could have predicted that. Obviously Dave is…less than thrilled and attempts to call the deal off. Sasha and Xander seem genuinely shocked at this, but Elijah appears to know the history already. Oh, and Ryan’s pulled a gun on everyone now. I’m sure this won’t end with any bloodshed whatsoever.

Sarcasm

And now we’re at the moment I’ve been chomping at the bit to see. The escape attempt from conversion camp. It…doesn’t go well. It seems the powers that be knew about the plans (I guess the guards did overhear them. Sad face). Most of the kids are dragged back…except Nathan and Yardley. Not going to lie, I almost lost it when they got away. Nothing good is waiting for those who didn’t escape, but at least my boys managed to get out. That’s something, and something big. Thank everything on God’s green earth. Yes, I realise it’s a fictional story. Yes, I realise it’s a web series and they aren’t the main characters. I know all that, and I don’t care. They are out and that’s all that matters to me. Sorry Troy. Still love you.

Finally, we’re at the main event. Colin, Viv, Ursula and Narelle have decided enough’s enough and they’re going to hold a seance. As Colin says, it’s time to find out the truth. What I know about seances could fit on the head of a pin so I can’t comment on the accuracies, but what I do know is this scene is one of absolute beauty. The atmosphere builds perfectly, the ambience is set, and Troy appears. He’s now able to touch his father, and speak to him. What follows is easily the most impressive sequence (from an editing point of view) in After Nightfall thus far.

We see a rapid succession of flashbacks to Troy’s last day alive. And yes, I am the obsessive who slowed it down and gleaned each frame for potential clues.

So here they are.

– Troy wakes up.
– There’s the breakfast scene we saw a glimpse of in the season 1 finale.
– Troy is talking to Oscar
– Justine answers the door
– Ryan walks away from Leanne
– Troy runs into Nathan
– Back to the breakfast scene?
– Troy walks to school with Hayden
– Dave is in his car
– Troy sits with Xavier and Grace
– Troy is walking through bushland and appears to come across a tryst between…two men. On first glance it seems to be Wesley and someone else. Someone with dark hair. Someone who at first glance MIGHT be Xavier, but definitely don’t quote me on that. I’m not sure. But surely that wouldn’t be the reason Troy was killed?

Episode 6 ends on a tantalising cliffhanger, probably the best one yet, and there’s no violence, no death, no explosive action. It’s just a father sharing a moment with the ghost of his son.

And this, THIS is why I love After Nightfall.

There’s a great balance between action and stillness. It knows when to let the characters breathe and have a quiet moment. It knows exactly how much action is needed and above all, it’s about the story and characters. And every single scene plays a part in the narrative. Especially considering the micro budget, small crew and limited timeframe they had to work with…it’s just phenomenal what this series has done. There’s really no other word for it. And I mean that sincerely.

Episode 7 promises to be a flashback episode to the day of Troy’s murder. We’ve had a tiny preview, so we have some idea of what to expect. I hope we get some answers to a few questions like Troy’s relationship with Nathan and why Wesley is so beaten up. But more than that, I hope we learn more about Troy, because he’s been quite the enigma this whole journey.

I don’t know what will happen next, but I know one thing for sure. We’re about to find out who killed Troy McLeavey.

After Nightfall Season 2, Episode 5

Oh. My. God.

W.T.F

I may or may not have needed to down a glass of rosé after last night’s episode. Because I did not see that ending coming. And naturally, I’m here to write about it. There’s a lot to go through in this episode and some tantalising theories to spin, so pour yourself a glass and let’s get right into it.

Episode 5 opens with our friendly neighbourhood drug dealer Dave seemingly contemplating his recent decline, when Leanne shows up. And before I go on, I have to say, I do feel bad I’ve not given actor David Woodland the praise he deserves for his solid performance. So here it is now. He’s wonderful in this role. He sells the danger of this man while also imbibing him with a humanity not often seen with this type of character. This is also down to the writing, but the performance is great regardless. That’s really one of the main strengths of After Nightfall, as I said back in my very first review. The moments we see the characters are short, but the power of the writing and the acting is able to get across a lot with very little. But that’s also an advantage of film as opposed to live theatre.
Anyhow, Leanne shows up and she’s done with the icy reception she’s been getting since Dave discovered her infidelity. She wants to know what she can do to be forgiven, but he’s not sure there’s anything she can do. A feeling I understand all too well.

Next, one of the juiciest scenes in the episode. A big call, I know, but I’m making it anyway for reasons you’ll soon understand.
Hayden shares his suspicions of Wesley (still calling that as a red herring) with Grace and Xavier, and this is where things get VERY interesting.
See, Grace points out something that had actually been bothering me since Season 1. When she and Xavier found Troy’s body, what made them look in the ditch?
Troy’s phone ringing.
And then, Kobie mysteriously got hold of it. Later, they caught him burying the phone where Troy’s body was. Grace rightly wonders how he got hold of it. She suspects maybe the police gave it to him, but we know that can’t be the case; they’ve been looking for it the entire time. Someone else gave it to him, and from the music, the shifty eyes and the camera angle, that person has to be Xavier. Think about it. He’s literally the only one who could have done it. The only question is why? And to that, I have literally no idea. Maybe something to do with Oscar? He did say in season 1 episode 5 Oscar stares at him…

The scene cuts to my beloved Nathan at conversion camp. And this is where I will mildly celebrate the fact that one of my theories has turned out to be correct. Nathan, Yardley, Daisy and two other camp members Finn and Tess (who shares a surname with Leanne. Coincidence?) have joined forces and decided they’re going to try and escape. Next week, we’ll see if they’re successful or not. And I hope to heaven they are. But I’m wondering, did those guards overhear them?

The episode is far from over. Oscar is confronted by an enraged Kobie, and just barely manages to get away. Somehow I don’t think this is over. And I really doubt Oscar is going to survive beyond this season. It’ll be incredible if he survives before the finale.

Meanwhile, at the McLeavey household, Justine discovers the money Isobel’s stolen. But before she can ground her til the age of 18, Zara and Angela arrived with a search warrant…and Brenda.
Brenda claims Troy told her he put his phone and iPad in the kitchen drawer, which she saw Colin do in the last episode. Zara finds it, and after berating Angela for not searching thoroughly in the initial sweep, Colin is taken to the station for questioning.
Since Nathan’s parents and the conversion camp leaders haven’t shown up for me to hate this episode, I shall focus my wrath on Brenda here with no shame whatsoever. What the hell is your problem, lady? You’re so desperate to seem credible you’ll get an innocent man arrested? Sure, Colin’s no angel and he wasn’t polite last week, but why should he be polite to someone who profits off exploiting and scamming grieving families? And it’s not just him, Colin’s not the only one affected by this. Justine’s been through more than anyone should and Isobel may be a scheming little brat but she’s still a kid. Holy hell this woman is a piece of work.
But as Colin is being taken out, Troy appears, causing a chair to fall. Narelle was right. His strength is building.

With bombshell after bombshell, this should be the end of episode 5, right? Haha, no.
The biggest twist of all is coming, in a house Colin is selling for his real estate job. Huh. I picked him more for an accountant. But no matter. Brad arrives, and who should be there waiting for him but Quintin. And he’s come prepared. We have our third death on the show. First Troy, then Simon, and now Brad. I guess that means we can cross him off the suspect list.

Quintin has been on many viewer’s suspect list, including my own, but now we’ve actually seen him kill someone. And he’s clearly premeditated this. He wears gloves to prevent fingerprints. He’s laid down plastic on the floor. It’s almost like he’s done this before….
There’s a massive amount of evidence here. Quintin has a background you could describe as ‘shady’. He reacted to the news of Troy’s murder by angrily kicking a chair, but he hasn’t really seemed overly torn up about it. His father told him last week he wished he’d been the one murdered instead of Troy. He works for his criminal uncle. When Dave was named a suspect, he instantly said “That’s bullshit!” He was in the area where Troy’s body was found, around the time the body was left there. He’s physically strong enough to overpower his brother, and he’s old enough to drive. He obviously attended Troy’s funeral. He knows how police investigations work. He knows how to conceal evidence, and Simon was also stabbed to death. We also know Simon had some kind of deal going on with Troy’s killer, and Dave’s gang had Brad on the payroll.

Did Quintin kill Troy? It certainly seems that way, but this is After Nightfall, and there’s 3 episodes left. Troy was strangled, not stabbed, and there’s definitely a number of people who could have been responsible. But still. This is not going to go unnoticed. A second police officer dead, and in a house attached to the McLeavey name? I think Colin needs to watch out, because there’s every chance he’ll be tied to this murder.

This is yet another episode showing the advancement the series has made this season. The music, the camera shots, the locations, the effects budget, the performances, everything has stepped up to the next level. The story is continuing, not rehashing or falling into the trap of writing without an endgame in sight. You can tell every scene is important in the overall arc. Every single moment is racing towards something, and now it’s full steam ahead on all fronts. It’s a remarkable achievement and everyone involved should be commended for what they’ve done.

I need hardly remind everyone that Season 1 had six episodes, so this time last season we were almost at the end. Here, we have 3 episodes left, and a huge amount of stories to tie up. There’s questions that need answering, and characters that need closure. If I’m honest, part of me is wondering how this is going to be accomplished in such a short amount of time, especially with no guarantee of a third season, which would have a new storyline. But I have confidence that whatever happens in the final three episodes, it’ll be worth the ride we’ve been on, and I’ll be here to write about every moment. Because if there’s one thing After Nightfall deserves, it’s to be talked about. And I’m going to give them that.

 

After Nightfall Season 2, Episode 4

We are officially halfway through the season. Have we all taken a deep breath after last night’s episode? Good. Because holy hell, was that dramatic.

Let’s begin with the elephant in the room. Colin. Specifically, his encounter with Quintin and Dave. Oh Colin, why?

“I wish it was you instead of Troy!”

The entire scene leading up to that explosion, I was suspecting Colin may say something to that effect. But all the same I was going “Don’t say it. Don’t say it.” And he said it. I don’t blame Quintin for reacting the way he did. And I never thought I’d see the day, but I’m with Dave when he says “What the fuck is wrong with you?”
This isn’t like the unforgivable scene from The Cursed Child where something very similar is said between a parent and child and it’s completely out of nowhere and out of character. I don’t like what Colin says to his son, but this scene actually works. Even leaving aside the impressive performances, this argument is justified, and Quintin isn’t exactly innocent either. He doesn’t deserve to hear what he hears from Colin, but he fans the flames.
At acting school, one of the best teachers/directors/performers in the business told my class, If something is well written, none of the characters are completely right. What does this mean in terms of our scene? Well, obviously Colin is very wrong for wishing Quintin had been murdered and saying it to his face. But Quintin is wrong for a) saying he wishes Colin wasn’t his father and b) continuing to work with Dave. And of course Dave is a criminal, but in this case he’s actually the voice of reason. I’m glad this scene was added because Colin is far from a saint. He’s a very grief-stricken man, but he’s completely absorbed in his own world. He seems to have forgotten he’s not the only one suffering because of Troy. Yes, emotions are all over the place but come on, Colin.
Let’s just forget for a moment that either Quintin or Dave could have killed Troy. Dave rightly points out Quintin has lost his brother. Troy was more than just Colin’s son. And this is something we’ve seen already with Justine (and has he even talked to Isobel about it?), which is further cemented when Colin goes into the house only to find Brenda.

It seems I was correct in my theory that Brenda is a fraud. Yay. Colin is completely justified in his anger towards her, because scammers like Brenda do exist especially in high-profile cases. They take advantage of desperate families so it was great to see her thrown out the way she was. Full props to actor Felicity Burke for selling the character so well.
But in saying that, I feel for Justine here (although I’m at a loss to why she was seemingly open to Brenda’s claims while dismissing her husband’s!). She’s trying to find something to cling to, anything at all, and Colin’s sole focus is finding Troy’s killer. Again, a completely understandable goal. But at the expense of neglecting your family’s feelings? That’s where the shades of grey come in. Good to know Colin isn’t going to be portrayed as some kind of Messiah figure.

Ok, ok, I’ve spent enough time on the first three minutes and forty seconds. Moving on to the next act. Zara is out for a jog and runs into Ursula and Viv. And do I detect the hints of a spark between the local tarot reader and the new sergeant? We know Zara recently ended a relationship, we know she’s of the LGBTQIA community, and there’s been no mention of Ursula’s sexuality (not that this has any bearing on whether the character is good or not). Could this be leading to something more? Though ethically, it would be a tricky subject. Conflict of interest and all.

Meanwhile we see Ryan has returned (somehow injury-free despite Leanne saying Dave nearly killed him) and wants Leanne to join him in his new life. But Leanne is afraid for hers if she left Dave. Definitely true for many people in violent relationships. Though we’ve never seen Leanne in any kind of physical danger from Dave, it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine him going there. We’ve seen his temper in action. I may loathe cheaters, both in the real and fictional world, but I have to admit, there was a twinge of sympathy for her here. This storyline is definitely going to have an explosive climax.

At the hospital, Faye’s claim that she doesn’t remember her attack isn’t fooling anybody, least of all Angela. But Kobie now knows what Oscar has done. I’m not sure Oscar is going to get out of this season alive now. No joke. Also, that baby was adorable.

On the way to school the next day, Hayden confronts Wesley over his injuries. Wesley claims it was a bike accident, but Hayden doesn’t believe this. Since Wesley hasn’t been at school since the accident, the day Troy was murdered, it’s obvious he thinks they’re from Troy defending himself.
Nice and realistic touch, but Wesley has only just been introduced this season. He was never even mentioned throughout season 1. To have Wesley be the killer would be a stretch of Elastigirl proportions, plus Wayne Tunks has gone on the record saying the killer played Season 1 knowing they did it. My hope is that if this is a red herring, and I’m 110% sure it is, Wesley serves a greater purpose than just someone for Hayden to suspect. I don’t believe his wounds were from stacking it on his bike at all. I still think Kobie was involved in that because of the blood soaked shirt from Season 1.

Finally, we’re back at conversion camp where Nathan’s parents have been brought in for family counselling. Nathan’s told he’s nowhere near being cured, but if I had to hazard a guess, it seems Pat might not be as big on this idea as Ed. She’s clearly upset at her son’s sexuality, but her reaction when Nathan was abducted in Season 1 adds some weight to the idea that she isn’t entirely without reason. She shows concern when Nathan tells them about the shock therapy and Daisy’s situation, and the fact that Peter and Melinda don’t immediately deny this should raise a red flag. But then again, if she’s ok to send Nathan to conversion therapy at all there’s not a lot she can do to redeem herself. As for Ed, he’s a lost cause. I don’t care if he turns out to be Jesus. Nothing is ever going to make me like his character.
And if anybody is interested as to why I’m so fixated on Nathan and his storyline, I’ll reveal something without naming names. Nathan reminds me of someone very dear to me. My best friend in high school, who I’m still very close with, was very nearly sent to one of these horrendous places after his parents discovered he was gay by going through his phone. Thankfully he wasn’t, but it was a terrifying two weeks of not being able to contact him in any way. So that’s why Nathan evokes such strong reactions with me.

This episode feels different. There’s a spark in terms of the drama, and a shift that things are only going to get more crazy from here. The fire has been lit. Let’s see how much it will burn. Though if I’m honest, the only thing I want to see burn down is that camp.

After Nightfall. Questions, theories, suspects, clues!

I’ve done it. I’ve rewatched the entire first season, and the first three episodes of After Nightfall. Ahead of  Season 2 Episode 4 airing tomorrow, here’s a detailed look at our suspects, questions that need to be answered, theories on what’s to come, and clues you may have missed!

Season 1

Episode 1

  • As the episode opens, we see Quintin, Dave and Ryan appear to be in the area near where Troy was found. Is this a coincidence, or could they have just dumped Troy’s body?
  • In Kobie’s first appearance, Kobie is seen breaking into a car, but there’s no blood on his shirt. His timeline of that night is clearly unfinished.
  • As Ursula reads the tarot cards, Viv’s reaction indicates she knows something has happened.  Possibly she sees Troy for the first time? I freely admit to knowing literally nothing about tarot, but I’m sure the Tower card is significant.

Episode 2

  • The pathologist says Troy was killed around five hours earlier, and he’d been moved. So that would put Dave’s gang in the right place at the right time.
  • When Dave is on the phone, Leanne seems nervous. Dave only says “My nephew’s dead,” and Leanne responds ‘Troy?” Red flag or red herring? How did she immediately know it was Troy and not Quintin? However, it’s possible she knew Quintin was the one on the phone because he’s so deeply involved in Dave’s drug ring. Still, her reaction to Dave’s rage can’t be coincidental.
  • Kobie is seen washing blood from his shirt. It can’t be Troy’s, because he was strangled. And it wasn’t on his shirt when we first saw him, so whoever’s it was, it happened after his first scene when he broke into the car. And my money’s on Wesley. He’s the only character who’s had an injury consistent with that sort of bleeding, and with the timeline of Troy’s funeral being in the same week, that adds up.
  • Oscar is looking at the news sites of Troy’s death. Why would he be looking at these? He’s clearly concerned that his disturbing predatory behaviour will be discovered during any kind of investigation. Could there be more than just that? While it might be too obvious that Oscar did it, I’m not quite ready to strike him off the suspect list yet.

Episode 3

  • The iPad needs to be explained at some point. As I said before, why would Troy leave it there if it was so important? There was a huge focus on the iPad in Season 1. If this adds up to nothing, I’m not going to be very happy. Troy led his father to it, so there has to be something there.
  • Why does Isobel have a stash of money in her room and where did she get that much?
  • Kobie wasn’t surprised that Troy was dead. Clearly, he knew already. Did he come across the body or did he have something to do with it? I’d like to think not because that would be far too simple an explanation. And if it did turn out to be Kobie, I think a lot of us would feel ripped off. There has to be a better twist than that.
  • Oscar says the news site said Troy’s body was found without his bag or phone. This doesn’t seem like the kind of thing journalists are typically able to report, especially in the first few hours. How did he know this?
  • Viv knows Oscar isn’t to be trusted. She might not be able to say much, but she’s very perceptive.

Episode 4

  • What exactly happened between Nathan and Troy? Why did that relationship end? Was Nathan worried about his parents finding out? Still doesn’t seem enough reason to kill Troy over.
  • When did Kobie get hold of Troy’s phone and why? Was it before or after he was dead? I’d assume after, since he obviously knew what happened.
  • Troy was angry that Hayden gave the tip off about Dave’s drug circle. That explains why Hayden and Troy weren’t speaking that day. Probably found out while walking to school together.
  • Why does Isobel film Ryan and Leanne? How did she know about the affair? But we may have an answer as to where she got her money from. I think she’s been swiping it from Dave. As she searches the shed, she says “Where’s the money gone?” And technical question, how on earth did they not see her filming them?

Episode 5

  • Could Nathan’s parents have had something to do with Troy’s death? If they’re willing to pack their son off to a torture camp anything’s possible. Also, strangulation indicates that Troy’s murder may have been on impulse rather than premeditation. We’ve heard almost nothing from Pat Kelty so far, but she was very quick to say Nathan wasn’t involved.
  • In the final scene, you can see Troy speak to Viv. I’m no lip reader but I can tell he uses the words “…killed me”. Viv’s reaction suggests that Troy may very well have just revealed his killer to her. But I’m a little skeptical, because she really can’t communicate sufficiently with anyone. If I was killed, came back as a ghost and could communicate with people, you better believe I’d be snitching first thing.

Episode 6

  • It may open with a dream, but we can start piecing the timeline together. Troy and Hayden walked to school together that morning, where he and Hayden likely had an argument over Hayden’s tip off. That’s probably how Troy ended up alone, and likely not long before he was killed.
  • If I had to take an educated guess, I’d say Isobel stole the phone to send the video to Dave, so he wouldn’t recognise the number. But why she did this at all is a complete mystery.
  • Why did Kobie bury Troy’s phone where the body was found?
  • Oscar’s horrified reaction to what he’s done to Faye indicates that he’s not as violent as we’ve been led to believe. But he certainly has a temper, and a tendency to lash out.
  • Troy’s killer also killed Simon, who seemed to have some sort of corrupt arrangement with them. Also, we know the killer is old enough to drive.

Season 2

Episode 1

  • Zara is tough as nails, and carrying a lot of anger. Why is this?
  • What’s Wesley’s role in the story and how did he get injured? I suspect Kobie, but I could be wrong.
  • We know Viv lost a child because Colin mentioned it in episode 5. I think Kate will be important later on.
  • Colin’s aunt Narelle is likely going to play a role in finding Troy’s killer, since she shares the family gift.
  • This is likely just a coincidence, but funeral attendee Harper Smith shares the same last name as Yardley, Nathan’s love interest. Hmmm.
  • Troy’s strength is building. Does this mean he’ll soon be able to talk to Colin?
  • If Troy’s killer is at the funeral, that REALLY cuts down the suspect list (I think we can safely assume the new characters of Season 2 weren’t involved!) leaving us with Colin, Justine, Isobel, Quintin, Viv, Dave, Margie, Pat, Kobie, Hayden, Grace, Xavier, Ursula. Apparently Oscar was meant to make an appearance but the actor was unavailable.
    I’ll leave a list of the suspects down below and whether or not I think they could have done it, but this is huge.

Episode 2

  • I’d love to see more about Zara and what makes her tick. She’s one of the most interesting characters in Season 2, and that’s saying a lot.
  • Will Maddie be able to tell Kobie what really happened to Faye? Or is she too young and traumatised by what she saw?
  • For reasons I discussed last week, I firmly believe Brenda is a fraud.
  • Now that Hayden and Colin are working together, what’s going to happen? Is Colin going to wind up in trouble with the law for taking matters into his own hands?

Episode 3

  • Brad is off Dave’s payroll. And does his comment “I’ll be forced to tell (Zara) what you’ve been up to” mean more than just the drug dealing? Either way, Dave no longer has a shield to hide behind. This can’t end well.
  • Why does Angela have this drinking problem? And what exactly is the nature of her relationship with her ex-husband?
  • We see a softer side to Zara in this episode. Could her tough exterior merely be a coverup? And she’s a fan of tarot, so that could be a help or a hindrance.
  • I believe there’s going to be some kind of revolt/escape attempt at the camp. Nathan should have no shortage of allies to help him, and what he’s already gone through is motivation enough, let alone his new roommate Daisy.
  • Oscar is seeming less likely to have killed Troy. He sure is a coward, but his terror and denial seemed genuine. However, he’s a skilled liar.
  • Faye has woken up. What does she remember?

Now, we must ask the question,

Who Killed Troy McLeavey?

  • We know it can’t be Colin because he can see Troy, as the creators have confirmed.
  • It can’t be Viv because she can see Troy and her severe disability makes it impossible.
  • I highly doubt Isobel was involved because she’s so small. How could she possibly overpower Troy? Also, we know Troy’s killer can drive, and while Isobel may be a devious little brat, I highly doubt she can pull that one off.
  • I don’t think it was Justine because of how distraught she is.
  • As for Quintin, he’s done nothing to really alleviate my suspicion. He’s always been in trouble, according to Justine, and he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. Could he have killed Troy? He certainly has the physical ability, the means and the opportunity. But he’s still Troy’s brother, so it’s not so simple.
  • Ursula I’m honestly not sure about but from what we’ve seen of her, why would she do something that would rip her family apart?
  • Hayden appears to be off the list. He loved Troy too much and the texts he sent indicate he wasn’t aware Troy was dead. Also, Colin is working with him, so Hayden seems unlikely.
  • Unlikely to be Grace or Xavier. Grace found the body and why would Xavier suggest a tryst in the area where he dumped a body if he’d done it?
  • It can’t be Faye. She’s pregnant.
  • I REALLY hope it’s not Kobie because that would be an infuriatingly obvious solution, and so far the series has strongly hinted he wasn’t actively involved.
  • It can’t be Nathan. He’s stuck at the camp, and honestly he just seems too gentle for that kind of violence. I know, I know, I’m biased because he’s my favourite character. But still!
  • It can’t be Angela. She recognised Troy when she arrived at the crime scene.
  • It can’t have been Simon. He was murdered by Troy’s killer and that would make for a phenomenally stupid way out.
  • What motivation could Margie have for killing her son’s boyfriend? I never thought she was likely but appearances can be deceiving.
  • Were the Keltys involved? They had a motivation, and the cutaway to Pat at Troy’s funeral when Narelle said Troy has unfinished business can’t mean nothing. Especially with what they’ve done to Nathan.
  • Dave’s gang seem to have been in the area around the time Troy’s body was abandoned there.
  • Brad might have been involved. We know he’s corrupt, and he seems genuinely concerned about Zara’s vow to change the local force.
  • Leanne and Ryan have been acting very suspiciously throughout the series. They are firmly on the list of suspects. Is it possible Troy caught them together and he had to be silenced?

So, what do you think? Did I miss anything? Who do you think killed Troy? The answers are on the way, but there’s still time to speculate. Let me know in the comments, and watch out for my review of episode 4!

After Nightfall Season 2 Episode 3

Spoilers are below with no shame whatsoever.

While I’m well aware that After Nightfall doesn’t name their episodes, if the creators can give me the rather awesome nickname ‘Superfan’,  I can name inanimate web series. I’m calling this installment Momentum, for reasons that will soon become dazzlingly clear.

We open on a hilariously upbeat dinner with Dave, Quintin, Amaia and Leanne (who’s still not popular), when Brad enters and announces he’s out of the deal. Apparently he’s more afraid of Zara than Dave (hehe) and nobody is pleased about this.

On the other side of town (possibly?)  Angela has been drinking again and gone to visit her ex husband. Their interaction is…how can I put this? If this was a rom-com I’d be predicting a reunion. Jokes aside, there’s a history here. And whether or not we learn anything about it remains to be seen. But for the record, I’d like to know more.

Meanwhile a devastated Hayden is compiling a suspect list complete with motivations, and Zara visits Ursula for a tarot card reading. Apparently her new job isn’t going to be as easy as she thinks (I wonder who could have predicted that?).

At conversion camp we see with great relief (or was that just me?) that Nathan appears to have survived his shock “treatment” relatively unscathed. OK, physically he seems alright but psychologically? That’s season 3 AND the epilogue. But he has a new roommate, a terrified young girl named Daisy. And no, you’re not imagining the double meaning behind the words “Enjoy your new roommate!” Please God, let the kids revolt or escape or something. This conversion camp is sickening and the fact that they exist in the real world is beyond horrifying.

In the last episode Justine was visited by Brenda, a TV psychic who claims Troy sent her. And I am immediately calling BS for several reasons.

1. She claims Troy is talking to her. Troy hasn’t even talked to his Dad. He did say a few words to Viv in Episode 5 of Season 1 but that’s literally it and we never heard them.

2. We can’t see Troy in this scene, yet she says Troy is there. Whenever Troy’s ghost is there we sure as hell know about it.

3. From the production photos we saw while Season 2 was being filmed, there’s going to be a seance. And Brenda is nowhere to be seen. But we did get an image of Troy glaring at her while she’s apparently talking to Colin in what I assume is next weeks episode. Call me an obsessive overanalyser but this is what I think. I guess we’ll see what happens next.

And now comes the moment we were waiting for. Colin finally confronts Oscar, but is interrupted by a frantic text from Isobel. And finally, Faye wakes up in the hospital.

Why do I call this episode Momentum? Because the build up is reaching breaking point. There’s a new sergeant who knows what she’s doing and wants to crack down on corruption. Dave’s gang no longer has any shield from the police. Hayden and Colin have teamed up and they’re not going to back down. That much is clear. There’s nothing more powerful than someone with nothing left to lose, and Colin fits that description to a T. He’s not going to tolerate timewasters and he won’t let anything stand in his way.  Nathan has potential allies at the camp and if they work together, as I highly suspect they will, they have a chance to get out. There’s still so much we don’t know about Isobel, Leanne, Wesley and the rest of the McCleaveys. That includes Troy. Oscar has been exposed to several people now, and with Faye regaining consciousness I can’t see any way out for him. Mystery upon mystery, so many subplots in a very complicated story that need to be resolved.

Which is why before next week’s episode, I’m going to be doing an interlude blog. This will be a cohesive, in-depth look at the suspects, clues and potential red herrings. So dear readers, if you don’t mind I will leave you here as I have to go re-watch the entire series so far. Poor me.

Although before I go, there’s one tiny thing I wish we’d gotten in this episode. And that’s Colin giving Oscar a black eye. Regardless of whether he’s the killer or not, the guy is a complete freak of nature. I would have been just fine with that. But with that said, we have five more episodes to go and I’m sure at least one punch will be thrown by the end.

After Nightfall Season 2, Episodes 1 & 2

Warning: Graphic content. Also, plenty of spoilers abound in the following. Proceed at your own risk.

Clearly, Troy’s ghost and I need to have a serious talk.

The first season of After Nightfall has been, in a word, successful. It’s won more awards around the world than you can poke a stick at, and now we’re back with season 2, which has more episodes, more characters, and a bigger budget thanks to a crowd funding campaign. All these combine into making Season 2 look like it’s going to be even better than Season 1, if you can believe it!

First a quick recap (or you can read my review of Season 1 by clicking here, here, here, here and here)

In the season 1 finale, Colin managed to unlock Troy’s iPad. Nathan and Yardley were caught kissing at conversion camp, with the Naylor couple promising to ‘step up’ therapy. Dave discovered Leanne’s affair thanks to Isobel. Hayden, Grace and Xavier found Kobie burying Troy’s phone where his body was discovered. A heavily pregnant Faye was attacked and seriously injured by Oscar. And lead detective Simon was murdered by Troy’s killer.

Episode 1 opens with a new character. Zara is the new sergeant at the station, and we meet her as she’s leaving her distraught partner. Instantly, you know this is not a woman you want to cross. She means business.

But the main feature of this episode is Troy’s funeral, and Angela is convinced the killer is among the mourners. While we don’t see any of the service, it doesn’t matter. This setting is a perfect way to introduce several new characters. Being added to the roll call is Colin’s sister Renee McCleavey (who is at odds with mum Viv), Colin’s Aunt Narelle who shares the family ESP gene, Angela’s ex-husband Ian, and mysterious school student Wesley, who has obviously come off worse in a fight. There’s also mention of another McCleavey sibling. Kate. This can be no coincidence, given that Colin asked Viv in Season 1 how she coped with losing a child. I think Kate might be appearing in some way sooner or later. Red herrings are a given in a murder mystery, but there’s one thing Wayne Tunks doesn’t do and that’s gratuitous plot holes. Thank God.

(P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, a certain Harper Smith appears at Troy’s funeral. You may recognise the actor. She knows nothing other than the two pages of the script from that day!)

Inside the church, Troy’s ghost stands by his casket, seen by Viv, Colin and Narelle, who tells Colin that Troy has unfinished business. I quite agree.
Also, shout out to the beautiful music performed by the multi-talented Kristina Benton, who plays Ursula in the series!

Moving on to Episode 2, and Troy continues to linger. Sort of a strange thing to comment on, but massive props to the makeup artist for adding the strangulation marks on Troy’s neck. A very effective touch!

We cut to the park, where Sergeant Zara confronts Brad and Angela, both drinking off-duty. She promises there’s going to be a lot of changes, including a crackdown on corruption. And from the look she gives Brad, I’d say she’s onto him. Good. Barbara Gouskos give a very powerful performance in the few minutes she’s been on screen. I’m very keen to see what her character is all about, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find there’s more to her than meets the eye.

Meanwhile, Kobie hounds his little sister for information on Faye’s attacker, but she’s not telling anything yet. Which, honestly, given her age and what she witnessed makes perfect sense. I’m just wondering why she hasn’t been interviewed by the authorities, yet, but the season is still young!

Over at Dave’s, we meet Amaia, the newest member of Dave’s gang. Leanne is still around, but Dave’s justifiably giving her the cold shoulder. And currently there’s no word on Ryan, but I’d be surprised if he still has a face at this point.

Justine’s anger at her husband is growing by the second, and then there’s an unexpected visitor to the McCleavey household. It’s Brenda, a TV psychic who claims she’s been speaking with Troy. Cue the eye roll. And it seems Colin will be the character we follow most in Season 2. He heads to Hayden’s house and reveals the data on Troy’s iPad is corrupted. And this is where, as I said above, Troy and me need to talk.
I’m not entirely sure why he’d leave his damn iPad in the cubby house where water could get to it, and if the data is unreadable. I know, I know, it could be a red herring and there’s very likely going to be an explanation of why/how this happened. But still. Also, if I was killed (touch wood) and came back as a ghost, the first thing I’d do is snitch on the murderer. However, Narelle did say Troy’s strength was building, and I’m pretty sure I saw him name names to Viv in Episode 5, so who knows?

Anyhow, Colin has officially teamed up with Hayden, and is now in possession of Troy’s phone. I’m going to go out on a limb and say we can officially strike Hayden and Colin off the suspect list but to be perfectly honest, I never thought either of them was the killer. 

And finally, we return to conversion camp, where my beloved Nathan and Yardley are being subjected to…well, there’s really no other way to put this, torture. This is why I’ve added a content warning, and I have literally never done that on anything I’ve ever written, so you know I sure as hell mean it.

Nathan and Yardley are forced to view images of gay couples and given electric shocks to ‘train’ their sexuality. I won’t lie, this is a very difficult scene to watch, and it’s even worse when you know this sort of ‘treatment’ is very real. Not since Dolores Umbridge hopped her way into Harry Potter have I ever genuinely wished to strangle a character as much as I do Peter and Melinda in this scene. Holy hell I hope they get what’s coming to them. My hat is off to the actors for their bravery and honesty, as I can’t imagine this would have been easy to film. What on earth is going to happen next?

Season 2 of After Nightfall has really taken things to the next level in every way. The story is dense and building by the episode. The world is expanding and the established characters are developing further. The plot is moving forward in unexpected ways. The atmosphere is building like a pressure-cooker. Presumably thanks to the higher budget, the cinematography has stepped up from its already impressive look, including some great split screen shots of Troy, the use of slow motion, and creative camera angles.

It’s been more than a year since we last caught up with the McCleavey family, but from what has been delivered in these first two episodes, it’s been well worth the wait. We still have six episodes left, and the possibility of a third season, so hang on tight. It’s going to be quite the ride.

 

Interview: After Nightfall

After Nightfall is a web series that has me hooked. It’s a refreshing new mystery surrounding the murder of gay teenager Troy McLeavey. It’s not set in the 1950s, doesn’t take place in the outback, has nothing to do with either world war, and thank heavens for that. In March and April this year, I reviewed the entire first season. And, full disclosure, in September I spent two days on set with the cast and crew filming a brief cameo for Episode 1 of Season 2. Everybody involved could not have been nicer, although part of me wondered if that was because I was known as ‘Superfan’ to most of them, having written such glowing reviews. I’m joking by the way. Wayne and his team of actors, camera crew, DOP etc are all professionals of the highest order.

With Season 2 due to be released in early 2019, I sat down with writer/director/star Wayne Tunks for a spoiler-free talk about the process behind filming such an ambitious project, and what we can expect in Season 2 and beyond.

For a writer, inspiration can come from anywhere. Where did the inspiration or spark first come for After Nightfall?

I was actually going for a walk late one Sunday night and the idea came to me. I walked for about an hour and the ideas kept rushing at me. By the time I got home to write everything down I had the basic premise, the name, many characters and the killer. I barely slept that night and the next day started writing. It was a story that needed to come out of me.

Did you map out every detail of the story before writing or did parts of the mystery happen organically?

A combination of both. To start I usually just write and let it flow out but then as the project continues I make a more detailed story map. The first 2 eps just came out organically and then the rest was planned. Having worked as a storyliner on Neighbours, our job was to plot story, so I still use a lot of what I learnt there.

What was the biggest challenge with shooting?

Independent filmmaking is an exercise in shooting on the smell of an oily rag. Shooting on a tiny budget is challenging but also rewarding. So as director I end up as production manager, set dresser and caterer as well as directing. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The entire world of After Nightfall is about the murder of a gay teenager. However, Troy himself remains shrouded in mystery. He’s mostly seen as a ghost and has had maybe five lines of dialogue so far. Was this a deliberate choice?

For Season one, definitely. It’s about the people left behind and how they react and which of them is the one that killed him. I like that Troy is a mystery, at first you’re even asking if his ghost is really there or if his Dad is going mad. In Season two we will see a lot more of Troy, including a flashback episode – so the mystery will slowly be revealed.

Troy is gay, and one of the things I personally love about After Nightfall is how this is portrayed as being completely normal. However, let’s be honest, the majority of LGBTQ characters in pop culture seem firmly rooted in stereotypes and coming-out stories. Why do you think this is the case?

For me all gay stories are important, whether it be a coming out story or others. For the 19 years I’ve been writing I have always tried to put gay characters in my work. When I am watching things now, especially TV, and there are no gay characters I get a little angry. Gay people are in every part of society and deserve to have our stories told. So whether it be coming out, a love story or just a gay cop, I’ll take any gay themed stories and characters.

After Nightfall has a large ensemble cast with many interesting characters. Do you have a favourite character to write for?

I love them all, my characters are like my children. But I have always enjoyed writing a good villain, living vicariously through them. So characters like Kobie, Oscar, Dave and Faye are fun. Plus, writing for myself is fun, guarantees I get some good lines!

My favourite character is Nathan Kelty. His harrowing storyline involves being trapped at a conversion camp. This is a reality for many LGBTQ people, but it’s very swept under the rug especially in media portrayals of the LGBTQ community. Were you at all apprehensive at tackling such a sensitive and rarely-seen issue?

It is our society’s big shame at the moment. I am constantly confused as to why certain religious people seem so obsessed with gay people. They are ruining the lives of young members of the LGBT community and governments let it happen. We like to believe it is just an American thing, but these horrendous places exist in Australia as well, so we need to talk about it. And we need to stop them hurting more innocent people.

What are the challenges of appearing in a project you wrote and directed?

I have been doing it in theatre for a long time but doing it in film is new. It is often intimidating but I was lucky to have an amazing crew around me to help out. But I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, I’m just one of these control freaks who likes to have a finger in every pie.

Obviously, we don’t yet know who killed Troy McLeavey. How have you managed keep the secret with so many actors and crew involved? Was it difficult?

Season One it was just myself and the actor playing the killer who knew. So many people would ask but we were both good at keeping it a secret. I loved hearing the cast and crew’s theories. Now, naturally, after filming Season two, a lot more people know. It was a relief to reveal it and now hope they can keep the secret.

What has been your favourite day on set so far?

Day one for sure. It was all so new and was a big risk. It was an experiment, we would do one day and see if it worked. It was a great success and I felt such a sense of achievement. After one day we knew it was viable and we began planning the rest.

Season One was definitely a success. It’s been screened all over the world and has won a number of awards. Were you surprised at how well people responded?

It’s always the hope that whatever you create, is a success. But I don’t think you ever really believe it will happen. People have been great fans and I feel very humbled. And the awards were the biggest surprise. It feels even more special that other people seem to enjoy the project as much as we do.

To the eagle eyed viewer, it would seem there are clues peppered throughout season 1. Is the mystery solvable to someone who is really paying attention?

100% there are clues, but to be honest, they are subtle. To me they are obvious, but the clues are small and there a lot of red herrings, as you would expect from any murder mystery. I hope when people discover the killer that they look back and see that it makes sense.

What do you most want people to take away from this project?

First and foremost, I want people to enjoy watching it. Love when I hear people binge the series. And I love when I hear people talking about who killed Troy McLeavey. And if we can also talk about important issues while entertaining, even better.

Now that Season 2 filming is done, what’s next for the world of After Nightfall?

We have one more season to go. There will be a new mystery and a lot of storylines to clear up. So after Season two, you will get to see your favourite and not so favourite characters. So watch out for Season Three.

Click here to watch After Nightfall Season 1

Reviews here:

After Nightfall Episode 1 & 2
After Nightfall Episode 3
After Nightfall Episode 4
After Nightfall Episode 5
After Nightfall Episode 6

After Nightfall Episode 3

Troy McLeavey is dead. Armchair detectives may already have their suspicions, but the investigation is getting underway as Episode 3 opens.

Troy’s grief-stricken father Colin is practically catatonic, his son’s spirit having seemingly led him to his iPad, hidden in the cubby house for reasons unknown. Troy’s sister has a box of cash hidden in her room for apparently nefarious purposes. The police force begin questioning persons of interest, including resident bully Kobie, who was washing what appeared to be blood from a shirt in the first episode (which I’d like to think is a red herring because that would be an infuriatingly obvious solution), and Troy’s drug dealing uncle.

The beginnings of a darker underbelly were revealed in Episode 3. Troy’s boyfriend apparently gave a tip off about a suspect, the ever silent Viv seems to have her own suspicions, one of the investigators seems to be playing on both sides and Kobie apparently knows a lot more than he’s letting on.
However, the storyline which caused the most emotion for me is the fate of Nathan, who awakens handcuffed to a bed in a conversion camp, where his ghastly parents have banished him. The image of him literally being snatched up by masked intruders in the middle of the night may seem a bit farfetched at first viewing, but no, this is honestly what happens to a lot of “troubled” teens, especially in America. I don’t like to think about the horrors likely ahead of him, but at the same time I want to see him come out the other side. Kudos to writer/director Wayne Tunks for exploring this very taboo subject matter, and we’re only 3 episodes in.

The beauty of After Nightfall is that even though there’s a huge ensemble cast, they all feel real. We don’t know all that much about them yet, but the mystery is intriguing rather than frustrating. We aren’t in Lost territory, where the writers were just making it up as they went along. There’s a sense of purpose here, like the answers are tantalisingly close but not within grasp. Not yet anyway. There’s certainly a lot of subplots, but it’s told in such a way to never feel over saturated or pretentious. There’s no other way to put it. The writing in After Nightfall is simply masterful.

It’s a shame that episodes are only ten minutes long, but I suspect the purpose of this was to leave the viewers wanting more. In which case I say, mission freaking accomplished.

CLICK TO WATCH AFTER NIGHTFALL

 

After Nightfall Episode 1 & 2

Maybe it’s the remnants of the Jack the Ripper walking tour I did on my recent trip to London, but I have a longstanding love affair with crime drama and mysteries. After Nightfall, a new web series written by celebrated writer Wayne Tunks, seemed right up my alley, so I was quite excited to check it out. The night it premiered, I finally arrived home from acting class at 11pm, settled down with a bowl of pasta, and pressed play.

We all know the saying. If you want something done right, do it yourself. Australian artists are taking this to heart. Our industry is suffering enough with never-ending tax cuts and general indifference to the arts. Hence, artists have to be more creative than ever when it comes to sharing and constructing our craft. Here, the creators have funded this ambitious project with the tried-and-true method of crowdfunding, and we should all be thankful for every cent poured into this absolutely wonderful series.
After Nightfall follows the aftermath of a young gay teen, Troy McLeavey, brutally murdered in a small rural town. Everybody is a suspect. His parents. His boyfriend. His ex-boyfriend or his ghastly homophobic parents. His drug lord uncle. The school bully. Predatory members of the community. The investigators themselves. Maybe even the butler did it.
A deceptively simple premise, but from the very first frame, the message to the audience is clear: you are in for one hell of a ride.

The first episode of course goes about establishing the world, the story and the characters. Many key players are unnamed initially but the strength of the actors makes the viewer able to glean exactly what they’re about. Therefore, the relatively short moments give you an eerie sense of what’s to come. Many scenes have minimal dialogue, allowing for greater atmosphere and mystery. Are there clues peppered throughout the silent moments? It certainly seems that way to an eagle-eyed viewer, but only time will tell.

Episode 2…well, the short answer is, it’s great. Troy’s family begins their struggle with grief, and members of the town start behaving suspiciously. Washing blood from a shirt, seemingly innocuous comments, silent looks of anguish from new faces. What will this all lead to? Mercifully, I was not watching this with my older brother who has that infuriating habit of predicting twists and answers out loud, so I only have my own thoughts at this point.

How very refreshing it is to see contemporary Australian work that isn’t set in the outback, doesn’t involve either World War, and doesn’t scream 1950s. Instead, the series dives into real people in relatable situations. There’s no pretence here, just the straight up story and characters. The audience is treated as intelligent, thinking adults. Visual and silent moments, lingering camera shots draw you in further. There’s none of the dreaded tell-don’t-show, there’s no excessive expositional dialogue, the pacing is excellent and from a production/photography point of view, it’s highly impressive how the cinematography can maintain the hair-raising darkness without descending into Tim Burton territory.

After Nightfall stars a host of talented and unknown actors, but of course the real star here is the writing. My regular readers will know exactly how critical I am of bad writing, and I honestly can’t think of a single criticism here. The writing is nothing short of brilliant.
Tunks doesn’t shy away from the violent reality of the subject matter, but he isn’t afraid to show subtler sides of everyday suffering either. One particularly moving moment for me, being the daughter of a single mother, was the heartbreaking scene of a mother going without food to make sure her child can eat. I can’t remember the last time I saw something like that on screen, and yet it’s an every day occurrence for many.

I guess if I had to nitpick anything, and I mean ANYTHING, about After Nightfall, it’s that the timeline can seem a tad out of order. Yeah, it’s a small town where everybody knows everybody, but would the police really inform the family before the body of a murder victim is even examined? Still, this is the first two episodes, so I’m not going to worry too hard about that.

The biggest compliment you can give any piece of art is that you want more. And in all sincerity, that’s exactly what I want here. I want a LOT more from this world. I want to see what will happen next. I want to get to know these characters. I want to dive deeper into the town. Most of all, I want the question answered.

Who killed Troy McLeavey?

WATCH HERE: https://afternightfallseries.com/

Date with Disney

March 31st, 2017. We’d been planning this night for months. My partner and two of our dearest friends on a cheesy double date to the highly anticipated Beauty and the Beast.
We all met up, oh-so-Australian Malteasers in hand, and went to get the tickets in an episode which would prove to be more dramatic than the film. Here’s a detailed plan on how to make getting tickets far more complicated than it should be.

  1. Turn up and head to the kiosk.
  2. Discover that the next session is Xtreme Screen and the only seats left are in the very front row. Discuss as a group whether you really want to be that close.
  3. Check movie times across the road via phone. Race over to the other cinema only to discover that one is in 3D. Another group discussion follows.
  4. The theatre staff say that the ads are still playing at the 7:35 session and we can make it. Buy the tickets, rush in, and discover the film is halfway through the song Belle.
  5. Leave the theatre, get a refund and go back to the original theatre to get the Xtreme Screen tickets. Discover they have also sold out.
  6. After even MORE discussion, get tickets for the 8:45 session, now one hour away. Also the Xtreme Screen in the front row.
  7. Go kill time at San Churros where you order New York Cheesecake instead of churros.

belleface

WHY MUST EVERYTHING BE SO DIFFICULT?!?

At 8:45pm, we finally took our reclining seats and the film began. All those months of anticipation, all the excitement of seeing my favourite animated Disney film in the flesh, on the big screen.

I left in a state of mixed emotions and mainly asking “Why?” I don’t even know if I can actually decide how I feel about the movie.

angrymob

Here we go again….

Alright, alright, put your torches and pitchforks down for a second and relax. I don’t hate this movie. I don’t even dislike it. There were aspects of the film I absolutely loved. Aspects that were, dare I say, even a slight improvement over the almost flawless 1991 film. Credit must always go where credit is due.
That being said though, I can’t sit back and pretend that this movie even comes close to the brilliance of the original film or the Broadway adaptation. Nor can I ignore the glaring problems with the film.

In the interest of keeping my blog shorter than the Bible, let’s get down to some ground rules. First off, this is not about the debate over whether Beauty and the Beast is about Stockholm Syndrome or bestiality. Those arguments are irrelevant and frankly boring to me. Secondly, if you disagree, more power to you. For all criticism of any art form, good or bad, there’s always going to be conflicting perspectives and we should only learn from them.

The Original

Beauty-and-the-Beast1991.jpg
The animated Beauty and the Beast is bar none my favourite Disney animated film. Everything about it is almost perfect. The characters are memorable, well-written and interesting. Belle is arguably the best female lead in the whole Disney canon. Top three, easily. The movie engulfs itself in the fairytale and throws a few twists along the way. The villain is not your typical bad guy; he’s actually the town hero but failing to get his way turns him to more desperate and evil measures. The animation is spectacular. The music is one of the best scores ever written. It was the first animated film to ever be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Possibly it’s the reason we have a Best Animated category at all. (Time out – Moana should have won this year. I’ve been stewing over that for weeks! Ok ok, stay on topic…)
The point is, the 1991 original is about as perfect an animated film as you can get. So…really, why remake it at all? What was the reasoning behind it? I know Disney is all about live action remakes lately. And while I can understand the logic of wanting to ‘correct’ the mistakes of the past with Maleficent – which failed hard –  Cinderella or The Jungle Book, with a movie as good and timeless as Beauty and the Beast, it just really seems unnecessary.
But to be fair, it’s entirely possible for a remake to be great, and when I first heard of the remake, I was keen. Maybe a remake of Beauty and the Beast could focus on some aspects of the Beast’s past, or go into greater detail about Belle. I was open to it, and even kind of excited.

The Cast

Beauty-Beast-Cast-Tweets.jpg

All the characters in Beauty and the Beast are nothing short of iconic, and so it only seems logical that the remake have the finest possible cast as well.
When the casting was announced for the remake, I got even more hyped. Emma Watson as Belle? Makes sense. Ewan McGregor as Lumiere? Yes please. Kevin Kline as Maurice? I’ll watch that any day. Ian McKellen as Cogsworth? Absolutely. Josh Gad as Lefou? That works, obviously. Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts? Definitely. Living theatrical goddess Audra McDonald? I’m sold. I had no idea who Dan Stevens (Beast) and Luke Evans (Gaston) were and I admit that with no shame whatsoever.
Obviously this new cast had big shoes to fill, considering the treasure trove that was the original voice cast. Paige O’Hara (Belle), Robby Benson (Beast), Angela Lansbury (Mrs. Potts), David Ogden Stiers (Cogsworth), Richard White (Gaston), the late Jerry Orbach (Lumiere). But there’s no reason to assume that they can’t reach and even surpass the original.
My verdict? Everyone in the remake is at least watchable. Some are better than others, and this is mainly due to screen time and the writing. Which brings me to….

The Characters

Belle

In the original, Belle is a role model for the ages. She’s kind, but she has her limits. She’s smart, but doesn’t show off. She’s beautiful, but there’s a lot more to her than that.People talk about her, but she doesn’t let that stop her from doing what she loves. She knows she’s destined for greater things and desires something greater than herself.
Emma Watson was a very fitting choice for Belle, not least because of Hermione also being a massive bookworm. And I’m just going to say here, I think Emma Watson is a decent actress, an inspirational person and beautiful both inside and out.
Her performance as Belle is…ok. She certainly knows the character and heaven knows she’s trying. But compare this performance to the animated version and you will be sadly disappointed.
In the original, the way Belle is animated and voice-acted gives her a real identity and they make it absolutely clear that she is unique. She is the only character in her town that wears blue until the Beast shows up. In the remake, Belle is not the only one wearing blue, and not a lot about her really stands out as different. She talks to more people, she doesn’t really act any different, she doesn’t even read that much. In short, she’s not as interesting.
And yes, let’s get to the elephant in the room. Emma Watson’s singing. Um…how can I put this….it was terrible. I’m not even sorry. She cannot sing and anyone who tries to convince me otherwise is fighting a losing battle. And yes, I can judge since I have a qualification in music theatre and have been singing professionally for over seven years.
Not only was her voice shaky, hesitant and auto-tuned beyond belief, but there was zero acting involved and she also sounded like she was trying to imitate an American teen pop sound as opposed to a grand musical theatre style. Sometimes, like the case with The Rock in Moana or Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables, a non-singer can use charm, charisma, or just incredible acting skills to the point where a not-so great sound doesn’t actually matter. Emma Watson does not do this. It’s really uncomfortable to watch and not pleasant to listen to. Add to the fact that the original film had Paige O’Hara, and the original Broadway production starred Susan Egan, and there’s just no way in the world to make such bad singing redeemable.

Frankly, I’m sick to death of Hollywood casting people who can’t sing (Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, anyone?) in musicals. If you cannot sing, you have no business being in a musical, let alone one of the most beloved musical films ever. I say either cast real singers or bring back dubbing!

The Beast

Oh movie. You tried so hard to make the Beast have more of a backstory. You were so close. You mentioned that the Prince only became selfish because of his father’s influence brought about by his mother’s death.
So why in the name of all that’s good and holy didn’t you explore it? It went absolutely nowhere. This could have been fascinating to watch. We could have seen a major character arc, explored the parental influence, commented on the fact that the servants apparently sat back and allowed this to happen. The ‘flashback’ was so brief it was blink-and-you-miss-it! Also, the animation in the original had a zillion times more emotional expression than the CGI thing you stuck on the screen. When Belle sees Maurice is in trouble through the enchanted mirror, the animation shows the Beast actually struggle with what to do, and ultimately make a very painful decision. When Belle arrives at the castle, you see the regret and even awkwardness on his face. You can see the loss of hope when Gaston arrives to kill him. He’s given up. Then when Belle arrives, you can see the resolve to fight back. I could go on and on about this, giving examples of moments with ALL the characters. You feel the changes and emotions through the music, the acting and the drawings. It’s shown, not told and this is why people loved the Beast so much to begin with. He was freaking interesting!
With the remake, the lack of expression makes it harder to have any chemistry between Belle and the Beast. This Beast wasn’t bad by any means…he’s just not as compelling to watch.
However, to be fair, it made a lot more sense for the Beast to be educated in this context, since that makes sense with the time period and also gives him and Belle some more common ground.

Now let’s get to the absolute best things about the film!

Maurice

I think my mother put it best “I’d watch Kevin Kline do a Coke ad,”
If Kevin Kline has ever given a bad performance, I’m yet to see it, and this film is no exception. He is absolutely beautiful as Maurice and the way he’s written makes the character so much more believable that the original. As mentioned before, he creates music boxes instead of inventions. He’s slightly eccentric, but nowhere near the bumbling fool of 1991. He was brave and could stand up for himself. He has a backstory (although why did he insist on keeping it secret?), he clearly loves his daughter, he’s really fun to watch and that song he sings in his introductory scene…it was magical. He was absolutely perfect in every way.

Gaston and Lefou

I have zero complaints about these two also. Not only are Luke Evan and Josh Gad having the time of their lives in their roles, but Gaston and Lefou have been expanded and made more realistic for a live-action retelling. Gaston being a celebrated soldier makes a lot of sense and having Lefou being given a moral dilemma was quite enjoyable. Every scene with them made me laugh hard.

And in terms of the alleged LGBT moment….I honestly don’t understand why people were having a heart attack over it. It was so unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

Objects

The objects are fine in the remake and they look great. The acting is good, the designs work, they have some fun moments. You have no trouble believing that this is how people might look if they were turned into these items. But I do have one MAJOR gripe that I simply cannot let slide.

Broadway star Audra McDonald is in this movie. She is a living legend. The woman has the voice of an angel and her acting skills are nearly unrivalled. She could sing the phone book from 1998 and make it enthralling. She has SIX Tony awards, more than anyone in human history. She’s also the only person to win a Tony in every acting category.
How dare you only give Audra McDonald about 6 lines. Shame on you.

Essentially the characters are a mixed bag and so is…..

The Story

How can I put this? The movie is almost twice as long as the original yet it felt like it was on fast forward. At times it seemed like an almost shot-for-shot rehash, but all the important moments were almost glanced at.
I didn’t feel there was a single moment when Belle fell in love with the Beast or vice versa. In the original, the Beast knows right from the get-go that Belle could be the one to break the spell. He doesn’t give her a room and actually gets angry at Lumiere for letting her out of the dungeon. He doesn’t invite her to dinner until she’s in her room refusing to come out. He expresses absolutely zero desire to get to know her. In the original, he gives her the library as the most grand romantic gesture possible. He seemed almost bored in the remake. I didn’t believe for a second that they were forming a connection, as none was shown through looks, music or acting. How can the pacing and emotional journey be so superior for an animated film where there’s all kinds of time constraints and restrictions? The original felt like the story was moving, like characters were actually doing something and changing.
That is essentially the main flaw with this remake. It is banking on the fact that you’ve seen the 1991 animated film. This is why characters aren’t as interesting or fleshed out. This is why the most crucial elements of the story are treated as an afterthought. It’s like they thought it wasn’t necessary to throw effort into certain scenes.
There were potentially great plot points that could have been added but were practically glossed over. There was a pre-release mention of Belle being an inventor while Maurice made music boxes and I was totally down with that. But come the movie, and it’s barely even mentioned. The laundry device she supposedly makes appears for about ten seconds. We don’t know how she came up with the idea, how she put it together, or if this is something she does regularly. This could have been an added dimension to an already good character. It was missed. There was a moment where Belle was teaching a little girl to read, which was a lovely scene. But again, ten seconds later and it’s never brought up again. The little girl never reappears and it’s never explored why she would approach Belle.
But the added tangent I actually despised was the scene where Belle and the Beast go into that ridiculous magic book. That was completely pointless and felt like an entirely different movie. Aside from that appalling “tourist” joke which dragged you completely out of the moment, why did this enchanted book even have to be there? It was never mentioned again. Supposedly the Enchantress left it along with the rose and I assume the mirror since the remake never actually said where the enchanted mirror even came from. Again, they rely on the knowledge of the original.
And ok, Belle’s mother died from the plague. Fair enough. So what does Belle do? She brings back that rose pen thing which is presumably infected with plague bacteria and is now going to spread death and destruction everywhere.

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Congratulations Belle. You’ve doomed the entire village.

And finally, the music. I was sorely disappointed and confused as to why on earth four new songs were written for the film when there were six new songs added to the stage musical.
Though I could stomach the lyric changes well enough, the film’s new songs were generally just not as good. The reason the new songs worked well in the stage show was because they were based in the instrumental score so everything tied together. Home, Maison Des Lunes, No Matter What, A Change in Me, Human Again, If I Can’t Love Her. I was dying to see that last song on the big screen. It’s a beautiful piece of music and a great moment for the Beast. I’ll admit I have a soft spot for Evermore, the Beast’s new number, and the moment in the film was a good spot for a song, but it just didn’t have the power that If I Can’t Love Her had. I sincerely wish that they had simply incorporated the Broadway tracks into the film. That would have been fine. Although I’d be lying if I said I wanted to hear Emma Watson’s attempts to sing Home.

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I know, Alice. I know

I realise this review is sort of all over the place, but so is the movie. It seems like the film is trying to be a carbon copy of the original we love, and also be it’s own thing. This half-half leaves an inferior remake behind, trying to fix what was never broken.

Beauty and the Beast did not have to be remade, but it has been, so hopefully you can draw your own conclusions and decide whether it’s worth the two hours. I’m glad I saw it, but I can’t say I’ll be rushing to see it again and again. If you go in expecting a masterpiece you probably won’t find it. You’re more likely to come out appreciating the original masterpiece a lot more. Or maybe you’ll find it a delightful film. Either way, be my guest.