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‘Ozark’ Ends As an American Horror Story

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وقت القراءة المقدر: 10 دقيقة (دقائق)

For most of Breaking Bad, Walter White insisted that his ascension into a fearsome kingpin was the only way to make sure his family was provided for after a terminal cancer diagnosis. No matter what atrocities he committed—an exhaustive list that includes ordering a child to be poisoned and watching Jesse Pinkman’s girlfriend choke to death on her own vomit without intervening—Walt could always point back to family as a moral justification for his actions. In fact, it wasn’t until the series finale that Walt finally acknowledged the elephant in the room: He became Heisenberg for himself, and he liked it.

On Ozark, the Netflix crime drama that feels like an algorithmic response to the popularity of Breaking Bad, Jason Bateman’s Marty Byrde began laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel to protect his family. (In fairness to Marty, the only reason he was put in this precarious situation is because his business partner was caught skimming money from the cartel, which wanted to tie up loose ends.) But over the course of four seasons, Marty’s desperate bid for survival in the Lake of the Ozarks has evolved into an insatiable lust for power that’s left a string of bodies in its wake. Marty said it himself in the series premiere: “Money is, at its essence, that measure of a man’s choices.” And those choices paint an ugly portrait of not just Marty, but also of his wife, Wendy (an excellent Laura Linney), whose cutthroat ambition for the family business has led the character to emerge as the show’s equivalent to Walter White.

As Ozark headed into its final batch of episodes, the Byrdes were still hoping to walk away from the criminal underworld by brokering a deal with the FBI. The plan was for the head of the Navarro cartel to act as an informant for five years in exchange for freedom from prosecution. (The deal was originally presented to Omar Navarro before he was put behind bars by a rogue FBI agent, but has since been passed on to his power-hungry and trigger-happy nephew, Javi.) But when Marty’s former protégé Ruth Langmore shoots Javi in retaliation for killing her cousin Wyatt, the cartel is left with a power vacuum that puts the Byrdes’ FBI deal in jeopardy. As much as Marty and Wendy want to manage everything around them, there will always be forces outside of their control—a theme further conveyed by the fourth season’s opening with a flash-forward in which the family is involved in a serious car crash.

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The question of whether the Byrdes can get everything they want—and who might get caught in the crossfire—is the driving force of the final season. If the Byrdes are able to wipe the slate clean, they plan on becoming political players in the Rust Belt, having already established a nonprofit foundation with big-name donors including Clare Shaw, the CEO of a prominent pharmaceutical company. (Of course, the Byrdes’ supposedly philanthropic efforts are tainted from the onset, as the arrangement with Clare is contingent on her company buying opium from the Navarro cartel.) That the Byrdes could move so seamlessly from money laundering to influencing national politics is indicative of another philosophical nugget Wendy shares in the series finale: “Money doesn’t know where it came from.” But while money may not be capable of judgment, people certainly are.

If there was any hope that the Byrdes would retain some semblance of humanity during their chaotic ordeal, Ozark’s bleak, brutal ending effectively squashes it. In the series finale, “A Hard Way to Go,” the FBI deal is back on with Camila Elizonndro, Omar’s sister and Javi’s mother, who took over the family business after putting out a hit on her brother. Meanwhile, Wendy’s father, Nathan, leaves town after giving up his pursuit of custody of his grandchildren, Charlotte and Jonah, and locating his missing son, Ben, who was last seen with his sister. (What Nathan doesn’t know about Ben’s disappearance won’t hurt him.) But just as everything seems to be falling in place for the Byrdes as they bask in a successful foundation fundraiser, Camila presses Marty, Wendy, and Clare about Javi’s death. “If you know something about the day my son died that you haven’t told me, I will forgive you this one time,” Camila says to Clare, sensing frailty. “If I found out later that there’s something you aren’t telling me now, well, I’ll have someone slash you from your cunt to your chin.”

With that [clears throat] creative persuasion, Clare cracks and gives up Ruth. In cold, practical terms, Ruth becoming the target for a new cartel boss doesn’t affect the Byrdes’ bottom line. But Marty has formed a close bond with Ruth, who has practically become a second daughter to him. Camila has backed Marty and Wendy into a corner—if they try to warn Ruth, their children’s lives will be in jeopardy. Ultimately, the Byrdes sit back and let Camila enact her revenge, shooting Ruth at her trailer home that’s in the midst of being transformed into a swanky lakeside property. It’s a tragic end for a character who rose through the ranks from a petty criminal with a wounded soul into a shrewd, successful businesswoman. (If it’s any consolation, Julia Garner should have the Emmy nomination in the bag, if not her third win.)

On its own, Ruth’s death fractures whatever core of decency the Byrdes had left, but the finale still had one more trick up its sleeve. When the family heads back home, Marty and Wendy are confronted by Mel Sattem, the ex-detective turned private investigator who looked into Ben’s disappearance until the Byrdes pulled some strings to get him rehired by the Chicago Police Department. Mel puts enough pieces together to realize the couple have been hiding Ben right under everyone’s noses: His ashes have been stored in a goat-shaped cookie jar. (Ben wanted to raise goats on a farm before he disrupted the family business enough that Wendy signed off on having her brother killed.) There’s just enough DNA evidence left in the jar—the local crematorium the Byrdes own is outdated—to implicate them. “Name your price,” Wendy pleads. “You can change your life. You can change anyone’s life you want.”

Indeed, the Byrdes have amassed a ton of wealth at this point in the series, but Mel is no longer swayed by it, believing—not inaccurately—that their money is “toxic.” The fact that you can connect the dots between managing a cartel’s finances to rubbing shoulders with politicians and CEOs is entirely the point: With wealth comes power, and the Byrdes wield plenty of both. But whether it’s an FBI agent going rogue to arrest Omar or Mel trying to establish some form of justice for Ben’s death, there will always be individuals standing against them because it’s the right thing to do. “You don’t get to win,” Mel tells Marty and Wendy. “You don’t get to be the Kochs or the Kennedys or whatever fucking royalty you people think you are. World doesn’t work like that.”

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“Since when?” Wendy coolly responds.

At that point, we hear a shotgun being cocked; Mel turns around and finds Jonah pointing the weapon at him. Seeing the youngest member of the family prepared to shoot Mel after spending the entire season loathing his mother over what happened to Ben underlines the moral rot that has festered within the Byrdes. What’s even more unsettling is how Marty and Wendy respond to their son’s actions—not with disgust or horror, but a glint of pride.

While “A Hard Way to Go” fades to black before the confrontation reaches its conclusion, Mel’s fate is hardly ambiguous—we hear Jonah pull the trigger. Considering the show racked up an impressive body count from its very first episode, it’s only fitting that Ozark would end with one more act of violence. For viewers rooting for the Byrdes to succeed in spite of their many flaws, perhaps they’ll be pleased that the family, for all intents and purposes, get away without any legal repercussions. But while the nuclear family remained intact, virtually everyone surrounding them wasn’t as lucky. And after all the moral compromises Marty made with the justification of keeping his family safe, Ozark wraps up with the rest of the Byrdes stooping down to his level. (In many ways, Wendy had long surpassed him.)

For his part, showrunner Chris Mundy described the show’s ending as “all about the choices of who’s family and who’s not,” and if there’s a larger takeaway from the finale, it’s that these types of decisions are inevitably intertwined with Marty’s philosophy about money as the measure of a person’s choices. Across four seasons, Ozark illuminated the real cost of chasing the American dream, and whether such success matters when so many lives are destroyed in the process. Clearly, in their final moments, the Byrdes were content with the bed they made for themselves, which makes the family’s journey all the more harrowing. Ozark might have started out as a Breaking Bad imitator, but it ended as an American Horror Story.

 222 اجمالى المشاهدات,  3 اليوم

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‘American Horror Stories’: Ryan Murphy Unveils New Chapters Of Fear & Frights In ‘AHS’ Spinoff Teaser

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Ryan Murphy ushers in new chapters of the American Horror Story franchise in a teaser for the upcoming Hulu anthology series, American Horror Stories.

“Every episode brings you a different nightmare,” Murphy tweeted on Wednesday.

Murphy, who has been teasing American Horror Stories with posters on his social media accounts, dropped the teaser on Twitter. The brief snippet follows a rubber woman on a journey that revisits some of the most memorable locations in the AHS franchise.

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American Horror Stories is a weekly hourlong anthology series that will feature a different horror story in each contained episode. The spinoff will premiere exclusively on Hulu July 15. Earlier this month Murphy revealed that Kevin McHale, Dyllón Burnside, Charles Melton and Nico Greetham will star in the series.

During a panel for Ratched in August 2020, AHS and American Crime Story star Sarah Paulson said that she will direct some of the series.

The tenth installment of the flagship series, American Horror Story: Double Feature, will debut on FX Wednesday, August 25.

During the May Upfront presentations, FX Chairman John Landgraf said that American Horror Stories will commence in July and conclude on Halloween. The series is executive produced by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Alexis Martin Woodall, John J. Gray and Manny Coto.

New horrors and fears await viewers in the American Horror Stories teaser – watch it below.

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 1,219 اجمالى المشاهدات,  19 اليوم

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‘Descent Into Darkness: My European Nightmare’ Is the Most Messed Up Found Footage Gem You’ve Never Seen

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وقت القراءة المقدر: 8 دقيقة (دقائق)

I’m always looking to be shocked. I want to be shaken to my core, changed by what I’m seeing, and unable to keep off my brain once the imagery has seeped inside. That’s what I look for in my horror films—and to be honest, it’s been a while since I’ve been surprised or even genuinely scared while immersing myself in the genre. And then along came Rafaël Cherkaski’s Descent Into Darkness: My European Nightmare, a found footage nightmare he wrote, directed, and starred in.
I first saw the movie during the 2020 virtual edition of Unnamed Footage Festival — an incredible festival I encourage you to check out — and was immediately intrigued by its sharp spiral into depraved territory. It’s a great feeling (you know, as a horror die-hard) when a story keeps you anticipating how gruesome and debased it might become. I couldn’t stop watching until I knew. The terrifying French film is, without question, a found footage masterpiece. But the fact remains that it is highly under-watched. Because of its lack of exposure, a lot of genre fans have yet to experience the horror of this film, and what it seeks to teach us. Something tells me it would be on a lot more “best of” lists and the subject of even more essays if they had. It’s the most messed up found footage gem you’ve never seen, so strap the hell in.
Descent Into Darkness: My European Nightmare follows a bright young man named Sorgoi Prakov, a journalist from a fictional Eastern European country who has just arrived in Paris to film a documentary about the “European dream.” You know, like the American dream. Same difference, basically. However, a series of bad decisions and unfortunate incidents set Prakov on a path of self-destruction, mayhem, destitution, and madness as his project is devastatingly thrown off the rails.
The 2013 horror story has a pretty simple premise, yet its specificity is what sets it apart from just being your typical documentary-gone-wrong. The very real spiral its main character is forced down by the also very real circumstances of the film is something a lot of people are a stone’s throw away from. The tendency to imagine yourself in the same position while watching makes things infinitely more terrifying. Add the kind heart and specifically generous spirit Prakov brings to the piece and it’s hard not to sympathize with the disturbing turn of events he deals with.
The film is a cautionary tale that presents us with several lessons we can’t help but learn, mainly because the end is so brutal that no empathetic and sane human could justify the means, nor could they imagine how to make their way out of such a mental and emotional struggle unchanged. Unfiltered panic coupled with alienation can warp your brain and throw you off course, even more so if you have a mental illness you’re keeping at bay.
For an hour and a half, Descent Into Darkness fights to prove that a little kindness can go a long way— especially for those who are struggling in ways we have never and may never fully comprehend. Further, it’s an indictment on normal folks and the way we treat unhoused folks who have come onto hard times usually through no fault of their own. There is a specific and nearly existential horror in the way we alienate houseless and financially insecure people, making them feel less than for their struggles. Prakov’s sanity waxes and wanes on his descent into darkness. Those tides stem from whether or not he has been shown kindness as he struggles to get back onto his feet and make his way home.
Descent Into Darkness shows how the mental toll of those struggles and the alienation manifests inside him, and it really is far from pretty. It’s incredibly dark, but so is how we treat unhomed individuals in developed countries. Their plights are deeper and more insidious than we could imagine. But this film does a great job of helping us see that baseless physical and emotional destruction firsthand.
Aside from its smart yet simple story, Descent Into Darkness also shines through its more technical aspects. The directing—expertly tackled by lead actor Cherkaski—is incredibly smart. The filmmaker focuses on Prakov’s buttoned-up optimism at the beginning of the film and truly takes audiences down a spiral through more than just the script. The beginning of the movie definitely has a professional tinge to it to match Prakov’s initial intentions. But as we travel further down the rabbit hole, Cherkaski’s direction becomes more erratic and unpredictable. He uses quippy camerawork and fiercely smart editing by his editing team — one particularly beautiful cut between daylight and nighttime comes to mind—to support the main character’s degradation into psychosis. It’s done in such a way that the pacing of the film ends up feeling perfect, too.
You know when a film’s story feels like it’s moving unrealistically fast, or even just achingly slow? It takes you out of the story, where you need to be firmly planted throughout the runtime, and tends to ruin the experience. The way Descent Into Darkness is shot and edited, with an almost staccato mindset as the film progresses, aids in supporting the story and evens out its pace. The result is a perfectly timed, eerily orchestrated nosedive into hell.
Aside from the crucial behind-the-camera brilliance that makes this film an underappreciated gem, it’s important to highlight one of the main reasons to watch this movie if you haven’t yet: the acting. Cherkaski is electric as Prakov and perfectly balances the character’s desperate innocence—which quickly bleeds into wild depravity.
In 2010’s Black Swan, Vincent Cassel’s ballet company director character is unsure if he can trust Natalie Portman’s Nina Sayers with the lead role in “Swan Lake,” because she excels at the virtuous white swan, but may not have the bite to also play the black swan. Cherkaski doesn’t have that issue. He is the white swan and the black swan in equal measure, which makes you as sad for him as you are for the victims of his senseless violence. It’s a really natural performance. Cherkaski makes for one of the most convincing, menacing, and downright evil antagonists in found footage—maybe even horror in general.
There’s a lot to love in Descent Into Darkness, which feels like an oxymoron when you type it or say it out loud. But it’s truly a special horror film that both shocked and changed me when I was lucky enough to catch a special cut at a film festival. It’s a movie that proved to me there’s magic in horror, that it can do crazy things and that those crazy things can make you feel renewed. It’s a movie that made me appreciate filmmaking that much more. Descent Into Darkness is underappreciated, underseen, and undervalued in an oversaturated genre. So, it makes sense that it would’ve been overlooked. Do yourself a favor and change that. Pop a little popcorn, dim the lights. Just don’t expect to feel like you haven’t, too, descended into darkness when it’s all over.

 799 اجمالى المشاهدات,  15 اليوم

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‘Captive Audience: An American Horror Story’ Review: More Shocking Than Fiction

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وقت القراءة المقدر: 2 دقيقة (دقائق)

Too smart for “true crime” and far more artfully constructed than standard-issue nonfiction, “Captive Audience” revisits the case of Steven Stayner, who in 1972 disappeared without a trace and then resurfaced seven years later, with a fellow kidnap victim in tow. Those with long memories will know right off where else the Stayner family saga is going, but others will be utterly shocked—which is supportive evidence in the case being made by director Jessica Dimmock. “If you have an experience and it doesn’t become a story,” says Steven’s mother, Kay, “it dies.” Which, coming as it does near the end of episode 3, is a statement as startling as any other in this three-part series.
The word “story” is repeated at least a dozen times in the opening moments of “Captive Audience,” mostly by TV anchors and correspondents, framing the Stayner case as it led the news circa Dec. 4, 1972: a 7-year-old boy, vanishing on his way home from school in humble Merced, Calif., stoking the worst fears of parents, inspiring exhaustive searches and then, as all such stories do when they aren’t solved, going cold. The very sympathetic Kay Stayner, who says she never stopped believing her son would return, concedes that when the police contacted her in March 1980, she immediately expected the worst. “I had all this hope for all these years, and at the end I thought it was going to be bad news.”

 1,104 اجمالى المشاهدات,  15 اليوم

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