October Faction

OctoberFaction

Starring: Tamara Taylor, J.C. MacKenzie, Aurora Burghart, Gabriel Darku, Maxim Roy, Stephen McHattie, Megan Follows, Praneet Akilla et.al.
Rating: TV-MA
Network: Netflix
Grade: B

Upon learning of his father’s death, semi-retired monster hunter Fred Allen brings his family home for the funeral and to sort out the estate. While there, his teenage twins inadvertently awaken their own magical powers, as well as unleashing an angry witch hellbent on revenge. As the witch hunting them down nears and their children’s powers grow, Fred and his wife, Deloris, find they are unable to maintain their facade of normalcy, and reveal to the kids that they are part of a secret group charged with hunting down werewolves, vampires, witches, and other creatures called “Octobers.”

Another TV show/movie based on a comic book I haven’t read (which, technically, is all of them). This is a fairly entertaining show, though the early episodes are stronger than the later ones. The plot is on the line between original and overused, though there are a couple of semi-decent reveals over the course of the show. The actors seem to do well with their roles, and they seem to have decent chemistry and work well together. As of this review, the show has been canceled, and will not air a second season, so any lingering plot threads are not likely to be resolved.

What few special effects are used are done well, and any background filler isn’t noticeable.

As I’ve never read the comics, I can’t say whether or not fans of them will enjoy this series, though those who enjoy gothic/supernatural stories likely will. It’s a fairly easy watch, though some attention should be paid so certain plot points aren’t lost. There is some language, gore, and intensity, so parents may want to check it out before letting younger children watch.

October Faction is currently available to stream on Netflix, with no word as to whether or not it will be made available for purchase/rental.
I’m always looking for new things to watch/read, so if you have a suggestion for me, just let me know!

Unicorn Store

UnicornStore

Directed By: Brie Larson
Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Joan Cusack, Bradley Whitford, Mamoudou Athie, Hamish Linklater, Martha McIsaac, Karan Soni, et.al.
Rating: TV-PG
Network: Netflix
Grade: B-

After failing out of art school and moving back in with her parents, 20-something dreamer Kit decides it’s time to grow up. After getting an office job through a temp agency, she receives an invitation to a place known only as The Store. There, she meets the Salesman, who tells her that she has an opportunity to buy the one thing she’s always wanted to have: a real, live unicorn. As Kit makes preparations to house and care for her unicorn, she meets Virgil, a hardware store employee who’s intrigued by her quest, as well as her unwavering belief that she will actually be acquiring the mythical creature. When she’s also presented with an opportunity to advance at her job, Kit is torn between abandoning her childhood dreams and finally becoming a responsible adult.

This movie is very much What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get. Aside from an almost painfully obvious lesson that growing up doesn’t necessarily mean letting go of your dreams or losing your sense of whimsy, there isn’t a whole lot of depth and hidden meaning. That said, the acting is fairly decent. Samuel L. Jackson seems to be having a ball playing the Salesman, and Brie Larson, who pulls double duty as both the star and the director, seems incredibly comfortable with Kit’s unendingly idealistic nature. Cusack and Whitford, who play Kit’s parents, do a great job of hovering between wanting their child to be happy and just wanting them to finally grow up.

What little special effects are used are pretty good, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Anyone looking to relax their mind with harmless fluff for 90 minutes or so will probably like this. The ending is relatively happy, and, as stated above, you won’t be taxed with hidden meanings. While the movie’s humor and somewhat nonsensical storyline may not appeal to everyone, anyone still in touch with their inner child should like it.

Unicorn Store is currently only available free to stream through Netflix, with no word as to whether they plan to make it available commercially.

Russian Doll Season 1

RussianDollS1

Starring: Natasha Lyonne, Charlie Barnett, Greta Lee, Elizabeth Ashley, Rebecca Henderson, Jeremy Bobb, Ritesh Rajan
Rating: TV-MA
Network: Netflix
Grade: A

On the night of her 36th birthday, Nadia Vulvokov is hit by a car and dies, however she soon finds herself still alive and back at the party her friends have thrown in her honor. Disturbed by the memory of her death, Nadia again leaves the party, only to die again then find herself back in her friend’s bathroom. As she investigates the phenomenon, she meets Alan Zavari, who also claims that he is repeatedly dying and resetting to earlier in the evening when his girlfriend breaks up with him. Curious as to why they’re the only two people who seem to be reliving the same night, they try to retrace the steps they took before dying to try and figure out what caused the loop, and what is causing people they know to begin to vanish as the loops continue.

While I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with this show when I started watching, it quickly pulled me in. The strange, dark humor is well-paced and never feels forced. Natasha Lyonne and Charlie Barnett have decent chemistry, and as it starts to become clear why they’re the only ones affected by the loop, and while the basic plot is something of a cosmic Missed Connections, it’s still compellingly done. Nadia and Alan are well-rounded characters, and you come to genuinely care about them.

What few special effects there are were all well done, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Despite the science fiction-like aspect of a time loop, this show should appeal to just about anyone, and it almost comes off like a dark-humor version of Groundhog Day. Like with most streaming-service exclusives, there aren’t a lot of episodes, though they are planning a second season. You don’t need to pay strict attention to the plot in the first few episodes, however, by the end of the season, you may want to.

Russian Doll is currently only available to stream on Netflix, with no word as to whether or not they plan to make it available on video.