Trivial Pursuit For Horror Fans is Here!

Trivial Pursuit

Along with the Cabbage Patch Kids craze in the 80’s, Trivial Pursuit was also something toy stores couldn’t keep stocked on their shelves. And now horror fans are getting a piece of the pie with their very own version called Trivial Pursuit: Horror Movie Edition Trivia Game which covers an entire century of film. What initially began […]

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[Review] ‘The Nun’ is a Calmly, Consistently Creepy Slice of Gothic Horror

It’s safe to say that the producers of 2013’s The Conjuring have continued to find new and interesting ways to expand upon their franchise. From the first (pretty excellent) chapter to the rock-solid traditional sequel to spin-offs (Annabelle) and prequels to said spin-offs (Annabelle: Creation) — and more on the way — it looks like James Wan and company have quietly built their own little “shared universe” of horror, and have been doing some really solid business with this game plan. It’s pleasantly ironic (at least to me, because I am old) that each of these films have found lots of younger fans despite being fairly low-key, old-fashioned, slow-burn style horror movies. Say what you will about this series, but it’s a hell of a lot more interesting than basic slasher stuff or yet another predictable zombie attack — and it’s Wan’s obvious affection for old-school classic horror cinema that helps keep things interesting. (Go check out his second feature again! Dead Silence is due for reappraisal!)

The latest chapter in this supernatural saga is called The Nun. It’s a grim, gloomy, understated horror tale that. truth be told, probably would have bored me back when I was a wee little 15-year-old horror geek. But as a grown-up who has grown to appreciate things like mood, atmosphere, and good acting I don’t mind saying that The Nun simply hit me in the right spot this morning. Sure, it’s a very basic (even familiar) story about two representatives of the church who travel to a distant location — in the case a Romanian convent — to check up on a reported suicide, only to be set upon by something very evil — but it’s also just calmly, consistently creepy. And let’s just be honest here; it’s nice to see a horror movie populated solely by adults once in a while. Nothing against teens and kids within the horror realm, obviously, but a flick about three grown-ups and some haunted nuns also struck me as a nice change of pace. At least as far as multiplexes are concerned.

Director Corin Hardy (The Hallow, and I don’t mean The Gallows) and cinematographer Maxime Alexandre are clearly intent on evoking the doom, gloom, and eerie atmosphere of a lovely old Hammer Horror production, and screenwriter Gary Dauberman seems to be actively challenging modern horror fans to settle down and enjoy a slightly more sedate piece of Gothic horror. From the early 1950s production design and costumes to the ominous locations tucked deep inside the haunted convent there’s an obvious attempt at delivering something slightly more mature than what we normally see in studio-released horror films. It certainly doesn’t hurt that both leads are pretty great. Taissa Farmiga, as Sister Irene, the newbie nun who suspects foul play, and Demian Bichir, as the weary but noble Father Burke, strike an unlikely chemistry as they dig into the mysteries of the convent’s history. And Jonas Bloquet provides some essential charm and comic relief as a French-Canadian ally who proves to be quite helpful indeed when it comes to curses and possessions and such.

Though it’s most assuredly a horror film, The Nun is perhaps better approached as a period piece mystery with some decidedly occult leanings. Hardy may lean a bit too heavily on simple jump scares and dream sequences for my liking (and I might have thrown a few extra characters into the mix, if only to bolster the mystery angle and provide for a few more murders!) but there’s still quite a bit to appreciate here. It’s hard to say if this particular chapter in the Conjure-verse will scare up huge crowds at the box office but it’s one that should prove to be a pleasant surprise to intrepid horror fans who eventually discover it on their own TVs.

Review – Blood Fest (2018)

blood-fest-banner

For many horror movies, the fabled brass ring is to scare your audience. So each year, tons of entries strain in their seats, hands extended, trying to do just that. Some of them manage to expand on proven concepts, while others try to push the genre to new directions. Ultimately, many of them fail. In fact, so few come close to the prize that the industry is over-saturated with jump scares and psychological thrillers that forget to target the very core of what could cement their longevity: make the experience entertaining. As fans, there is a lot to wade through to simply be entertained. So much in fact that even those most die-hard among us often come away jaded and disappointed.

Blood Fest, the 2018 horror-comedy send-up from director Owen Egerton isn’t about to try and reinvent the wheel, but it also isn’t in the business of spraying a fart in your face at the fragrance counter. Quite simply, it sets out to entertain.

Blood-Fest-pig-chainsawsYears after the murder of his mother, Dax (Robbie Kay), celebrates their once mutual love of horror films in everything that he does. From his bedroom-shrine to the horrific, to his job at the local video store. Dax’s father (Tate Donovan), a psychiatrist, bitter over the contribution that he feels those same movies played in the death of his wife denies his son entrance to the horror con to beat all conventions, Blood Fest. Taking a page from his best friend and secret love interest Sam (Seychelle Gabriel), Dax raises the proverbial finger to “the man”, ignoring his father’s rules and pleading with friend Ashley (Barbara Dunkelman) to get him into the convention. It’s not long after entering through the gates that Dax learns the con is nothing more than a ruse to lure fans into their own gory bloodbath as celebrated director and promoter Anthony Walsh (played by Egerton himself) is hell-bent on shooting the horror film to end all horror films with the convention goers becoming the movie’s very real victims. Only the truly devoted fans have a chance of escaping by adhering to the tropes, stereotypes and rules associated with horror films.

From the setup to the first few kills and beyond, Egerton is playing this one for all the fun that he can and it shows. Equal parts Cabin in the Woods and Waxwork, Blood Fest doesn’t have any intentions of straight-facing this one, getting goofy silly, and even overly sentimental in all the right places. We have some strong comedic performances from our leads as many will recognize Dax’s best friend Krill (Jacob Batalon) from the most recent Spiderman franchise and even Zachary Levi drops in for some memorable moments half way in (yes, he’s top-billed, but be assured this is nothing more than a cameo in all actuality).

The ending, albeit a little groan-worthy in its big reveal doesn’t taint the big fun and laughs here…not to mention some nice practical f/x and just enough meta to leave fans grinning. RECOMMENDED.

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[Butcher Block] ‘Hobo with a Shotgun,’ a Glorious Grindhouse-Style Gorefest

Butcher Block is a weekly series celebrating horror’s most extreme films and the minds behind them. Dedicated to graphic gore and splatter, each week will explore the dark, the disturbed, and the depraved in horror, and the blood and guts involved. For the films that use special effects of gore as an art form, and the fans that revel in the carnage, this series is for you.

In 2007, an international trailer contest was run in promotion of the Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez double feature Grindhouse. Director Jason Eisener got together with collaborators Rob Cotterill and John Davies, wrote a script, and shot a trailer titled “Hobo with a Shotgun” for a mere $150 in a few days. It went viral on YouTube shortly after and won the contest. The exposure led to a feature film version getting fast-tracked, the second fake trailer from Grindhouse to earn one (after Machete).

The feature length film takes the highlight reel of the faux trailer and expands it to a brisk hour and a half story that replaces original Hobo David Brunt for a more recognizable genre mainstay; Rutger Hauer. Also gone is the scratchy, dusty vintage film quality and replaced instead with the vivid technicolor world that feels more akin to Suspiria. Though the visual style might have been updated, the film still retains that grindhouse DNA, dialogue and all.

The plot is a simple tale of an antihero taking matters into his own bloodied hands. When Hauer’s Hobo arrives in Hope Town by way of train boxcar, he soon finds the town is under the oppressive rule of The Drake and his sadistic sons. A public decapitation is Hobo’s introduction to the town’s deep-seated corruption, and eventually, Hobo snaps. If you surmised that the film’s title should be taken literally, then you win a prize; Hobo does indeed pick up a shotgun and begins a murder spree to remove the town’s pimps, drug dealers, pedophiles, and corrupt.

Eisener’s feature take on this character feels like a vivid colored Troma meets grindhouse film, so enjoyment mileage will vary depending on tastes for crude humor and gore, both of which there is plenty. Thanks to key special makeup effects artist Zane Knisely (Hannibal, The Void, The Monster) and team, the practical effects-driven gore is a huge highlight. Heads pop off and shower surrounding characters in blood. A character takes a hacksaw to the neck of a victim, slowly driving the serrated blade back and forth into their flesh. A doctor is impaled with a sword. An ice skate is used as a knife to someone’s chest. All were handled practically, and all reveled in excess violence and blood, which wouldn’t have been easy to contend with during production.

With both Hobo and his adversaries slaughtering their way through Hope Town, forcing the citizens to pick a side, a late game summoning of two armor-clad demons, dubbed “The Plague,” adds a new level of light-hearted weirdness to balance to grit. The gore, tone, and look of Hobo with a Shotgun makes for a perfect pairing to Turbo Kid, all the more fitting considering Eisener served as executive producer for the cult hit.

With dialogue like, “I’m gonna wash this blood off… with your blood,” and, “It’s a beautiful day for a skate-rape” and a ton of dismemberment (including genitalia mutilation), Hobo with a Shotgun is example of extreme splatter cinema with heart, humor, and Troma-like sensibilities that’s sure to offend the delicate.

[Review] Shane Black’s ‘The Predator’ Leans Hard into Its “R” Rating for a Fun But Clunky Time

On the whole, the Predator franchise has an up and down history. The original is beloved (and famous now for featuring two US governors among the cast) while the sequel has interesting ideas but problematic racial elements. Depending on your canonical preferences the AvP films are either silly fun or offensive cash grabs. Finally, 2010’s Predators attempts to reboot the whole affair, but didn’t quite work.

Which brings us to Shane Black’s attempt to give the galaxy’s most dangerous hunter a new lease on life with The Predator. The new film disavows all but the original two films to tell the story of a team of misfits who band together to tackle not just one Predator, but a new suped-up hybrid (and his Predator dogs). Oh – and there’s a Mary Sue child who is on the spectrum and Olivia Munn thrown in for good measure.

If you follow the trades, the news of reshoots, botched marketing campaigns and a recent edit to remove a convicted sexual offender friend of Black’s might sound the alarm of a troubled production. Hopeful fans need not worry too much: the final cut of the film doesn’t reflect a project in peril so much as a very traditional “by the books” Hollywood blockbuster, which in 2018 may be its own cause for alarm.

Ardent Black fans will undoubtedly find plenty to like about the new film. The Predator opens in Mexico with a botched mission that leaves skilled military sniper McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) the sole survivor and in possession of the Predator helmet and glove. The crash site is quickly swept under the rug by government scientist Traeger (Sterling K. Brown) and McKenna is set up to take the fall to ensure he remains quiet about what he saw. When his son Rory (Jacob Tremblay) activates the helmet McKenna covertly mailed home, however, it initiates a chain of events that brings Traeger, the Predator and a newly introduced bounty hunter Predator down on McKenna’s sleepy town.

Shane and co-writer Fred Dekker keep things moving along at a speedy clip, offsetting the deluge of expository dialogue with regular action sequences. Their other contribution is a boatload of supporting comedy characters in the form of McKenna’s makeshift team, which includes crass comedian Coyle (Keegan Michael-Key), Tourette’s afflicted Baxley (Thomas Jane), pilot Lynch (Alfie Allen), creepy/cute Nettles (Augusta Aguilera) and suicidal leader Nebraska (Trevante Rhodes).

These men become the mouthpiece for Black’s trademark crude and witty dialogue, which vacillates somewhere between “your mother” jokes and using the R-word to describe McKenna’s son. It’s unclear if Black and Dekker (heh heh) were aiming for 80s action movie nostalgia with their underwhelming dialogue and rah-rah machismo, but the vast majority of The Predator, unfortunately, lands uncomfortably close to dude-bro territory.

Thankfully the action makes up a lot of the shortcomings. The opening sequence is adequate, but things really get cooking when the Predator unexpectedly awakens at Traeger’s top secret Project Stargazer base. The ensuing death and destruction is glorious to behold as Black leans hardcore into his R rating and paints the white facility walls red. Later in the film, a battle at the local schoolyard finds creative ways to continually raise the stakes. By the time the action moves to a rock quarry and into the woods for the extended final battle, however, exhaustion and ennui have begun to set in. Even the wanton destruction of an entire army of red shirts can’t help to keep the film’s energy from flagging as action sequence begets action sequence endlessly.

Sadly the action alone can’t save the film. Black and Dekker pack the 2hr+ film with far too many conflicts. When the film unites the humans against the new super Predator, it works. When the focus shifts to the petty in-fighting between McKenna and Traeger or the narrative cuts back to Yvonne Strahovski’s Emily (playing McKenna’s estranged wife in a thankless role), The Predator feels clunky and ill-paced. Throw in Black’s near misogynistic use of female characters, including a completely unnecessary scene involving a naked Munn, and there’s a lot to criticize.

The Predator will undoubtedly appeal to fans of the original films, as well as purveyors of Shane Black’s oeuvre. As for whether this new film has the capacity to re-launch the franchise (which the tacked on coda clearly aims to do)? Unclear. The troubled reports from set and inevitable “bad to meh” reviews certainly won’t help recruit new audiences. But hey: at least we got Predator dogs!

Bloody Disgusting’s Vanessa Decker Takes Us to ‘The Nun’ Red Carpet Premiere in Hollywood! [Video]

New Line Cinema’s The Nun haunts audiences everywhere tonight, and Bloody Disgusting’s Vanessa Decker and Ryan Valdez hit the spooky red carpet premiere to speak to the stars and filmmakers behind the next film in the Conjuring universe.

Watch as Vanessa speaks with Bonnie Aarons, who reprises her Conjuring 2 role as the title character, Corin Hardy, who brings the film to life, the great Taissa Farmiga, who appears in this new film as Sister Irene, among others!

Hosted by Vanessa Decker
https://www.instagram.com/horror.vixen/

Filmed and edited by Ryan Valdez
https://www.instagram.com/raldez/

[It Came From the ‘80s] Vampires, Werewolves, and Flaming Death in ‘Fright Night Part 2’

With horror industry heavy hitters already in place from the 1970s, the 1980s built upon that with the rise of brilliant minds in makeup and effects artists, as well as advances in technology. Artists like Rick Baker, Rob Bottin, Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff Jr., Tom Savini, Stan Winston, and countless other artists that delivered groundbreaking, mind-blowing practical effects that ushered in the pre-CGI Golden Age of Cinema. Which meant a glorious glut of creatures in horror. More than just a technical marvel, the creatures on display in ‘80s horror meant tangible texture that still holds up decades laterGrotesque slimy skin to brutal transformation sequences, there wasn’t anything the artists couldn’t create. It Came From the ‘80s is a series that will pay homage to the monstrous, deadly, and often slimy creatures that made the ‘80s such a fantastic decade in horror.

One of the ‘80s most beloved vampire films is the Tom Holland’s directorial debut Fright Night. The horror comedy followed teen horror fan Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale), who discovers his new neighbor Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) is a vampire responsible for the disappearances of multiple people. When no one believes him, he turns to local horror host Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) for help. Throw in werewolves, monstrous bats, and melting, oozing deaths in the midge of the golden era of practical effects, and Fright Night became a hit. The inevitable sequel that followed four years later saw Jerry’s vampiric sister out for revenge against Charley and Peter, except Charley has since stopped believing in vampires. Though the plot structure is closely aligned with its predecessor, the special makeup and creature effects has a much bigger role to play.

The biggest change for this sequel is the gender swapping. With Charley now the skeptic, it’s his girlfriend Alex (Traci Lind) that teams up with Peter Vincent to save him from the big bad vampire’s clutches. That vampire is Regine (In the Mouth of MadnessJulie Carmen), an eccentric performance artist turned new horror host of Fright Night. Regine is dead set on a slow revenge upon Charley for killing her brother, Jerry, and she comes with a bigger entourage. There’s the roller skating right-hand vampire Belle (Russell Clark), bug-eating enforcer Bozworth (Brian Thompson), and flirtatious werewolf Louie (Jon Gries).

Between the larger cast of monsters and the performance artist aspect of Regine’s character, that meant a lot more room to play for the special makeup effects team. The large scope of work was a big undertaking for special makeup and creature effects artist Bart Mixon (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2), stepping into the supervisor role for a major effects-driven film for the first time. He enlisted a core team of artists made up of key sculptor Brian Wade, key painter Aaron Sims, Norman Cabrera, and moldmaker Jim McLoughlin. He was also able to pull in artists Gabe Bartalos, Barney Burman, Matt Rose, and more for periods of time to work on the film.

The crew had a lot of effects to handle, from the decapitation of the bowling alley owner, Bozworth’s chest getting sliced open, Belle’s melting demise, and even Louie’s transformation sequences. It paled in comparison to the epic final battle between Regine and our plucky heroes. Pissed off, Regine transforms into a monstrous bat creature and attacks. What was originally designed to only feature a stop motion puppet eventually evolved into a full-sized bat crashing through the floor. The epic bat attack became a splicing of both stop-motion animation of the miniature bat and a massive bat puppet secured on a rod and pushed through the elevator floor.

From there, the movie has Regine transforming back to her original form to finish off Charley before suffering a gruesome death by sunlight. Mixon’s original designs for this death proved much too disgusting for director Tommy Lee Wallace (Halloween III: Season of the Witch), so Mixon and team scaled back to a more traditional gelatin burn makeup application. For the spectacular flaming death scene, it was actress Dinah Cancer in makeup and prosthetics, undergoing three hours of makeup application to look somewhere halfway between giant bat and human.

Despite how successful the original film was, the sequel only saw a limited release in the U.S. and didn’t fare as well as a result. From a narrative standpoint, Fright Night Part 2 most sticks to the same story beats of its predecessor. It’s the visual element that makes this underseen sequel shine, though. Mixon and his crew made a fun effects-heavy sequel that’s an improvement over the original, and Carmen is a compelling villain as Regine.

The Nun – USA, 2018: updated with more clips and 13 reviews

‘Witness the darkest chapter in The Conjuring universe’

The Nun is a 2018 American supernatural horror feature film directed by Corin Hardy (The Hallow) from a screenplay by James Wan (The ConjuringSaw) and Gary Dauberman (IT; Wolves at the Door; Swamp Monkey; et al). The movie stars Taissa Farmiga, Demian Bichir, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie Aarons, Charlotte Hope and Ingrid Bisu.

When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together they uncover the order’s unholy secret.

Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of the same demonic nun that first terrorised audiences in The Conjuring 2, as the abbey becomes a horrific battleground between the living and the damned…

As with the Annabelle movies, The Nun is an offshoot from The Conjuring franchise as part of a new universe of supernatural-themed scare movies. It is rated ‘R’ by the MPAA for “terror, violence, and disturbing/bloody images.”

Reviews:

The Nun enjoys a lively sound design, showing more skill with eerie noises than visual aggressiveness, finding crude CGI ruining the potential for gory encounters. The central appeal of Valak and her cold stare remains, but Hardy doesn’t do enough with the monster, while Dauberman’s writing gets bogged down in Christian mythology…” Brain Orndorf, Blu-ray.com

” …while it’s not a particularly scary film, it’s still a tense narrative that further binds James Wan’s cinematic universe together. Even better, Corin Hardy’s direction slickly presents it all with a confident flare of someone who truly loves horror films, and it shows in every frame.” Mike Reyes, CinemaBlend

“Even with a few stumbles and played-out tropes, The Nun provides audiences with another solid entry in a franchise that just will not quit […] Backed by outstanding performances, striking cinematography, and an interesting tie-in to the other films, there is plenty here for horror fans.” Katherine Szabo, Cryptic Rock

” …there’s a great setting and great performances, but there are a handful of scenes that really help this movie stand out for me, including a segment at a local graveyard that is one of the highlights of the film. It shows that the movie has enough tricks up its sleeve and doesn’t need to overuse Valak to make you uneasy, focusing more on character and the creep factor than on gore.” Jonathan James, Daily Dead

“Unlike the other movies in the franchise, it’s not portentous and obsessed with convincing the audience that the events we’re watching actually happened – The Nun is camply funny and it’s clearly meant to be. Fun one-liners and the frequent appearances of Valak at the end of various long corridors (definitely this demon’s MO) feel like cheeky winks and stop The Nun from feeling purely like a crass cash in.” Rose Fletcher, Den of Geek! UK

“It’s certainly not scary, and the family dynamic that made the characters in the earlier films somewhat empathetic is missing here. Burke and Irene are paper thin, Frenchie is on hand for some tonally jarring comic relief, and we see far too much of The Nun — early and often — to allow her to be a truly frightening presence.” Don Kaye, Den of Geek! USA

The Nun is a good-looking film (barring the odd dodgy lighting effects) with some strong design elements including a graveyard full of the least-reassuring crucifixes we’ve ever seen. But you’ll wait in vain for Hardy to take advantage of all he’s got and deliver some genuine scares.” Hugh Armitage, Digital Spy

” …in jettisoning the focus on family of the previous films, it gives us characters whose interactions with each other feel less than detailed, and who are more archetypal than real. But it’s good clean fun nevertheless, and the set pieces expertly supply the tension-and-release satisfactions of the genre.” Harry Windsor, The Hollywood Reporter

” …The Nun stumbles by not delivering any real terror or investment in its characters, instead resting on its strong visuals and atmosphere and, strangely, humor. Fans of The Conjuring franchise itching for more lore to pore over will get what they came for, but if you were hoping that this would be the scariest film in the franchise… keep praying.” Tom Jorgensen, IGN

” …once you strip away the boo moments, once you sort the living from the dead, the only ‘outside reality’ to which The Nunrefers is the (fraudulent) world of the Warrens, and the only place for which Vakal seems destined – perhaps after another sequel outing or several – is the Warrens’ room of curious cabinets where all these stories are ultimately contained. The Nun is effective as visceral, in-the-moment horror, but there is little of substance beneath the wimple.” Anton Bitel, Projected Figures

The Nun works neither as a stand alone horror film, nor as an extension of the Conjuring universe (such a weird thought). It’s a boring, uneventful, downright ludicrous attempt to capitalize on less than four minutes of screen time in an infinitely better film. It isn’t the first time a film attempting to capitalize on success will have failed, I guess I just expected better.” J Hurtado, Screen Anarchy

“In the absence of much plot or character complexity in the script by Gary Dauberman (Itand the Annabelle films), Hardy revels in the opportunity to tell the story as a series of eerie set pieces. Until a computer-enhanced finale somewhat deflates things, he wrings chills from carefully crafted cinematography and production design, imaginative staging and creepy locations (some in Transylvania itself) that add to the authenticity.” Michael Gingold, Time Out New York

“Farmiga and Bichir are as reliable as ever in their whisper-slight roles, yet it’s the charming Paquet who threatens to run away with the film, tackling his character as a sort of hipster Bruce Campbell amidst all the straight-faced gloom-and-doom. Indeed, The Nun’s most interesting touches come when the film’s craftsmen try to bring some anachronistic life to the identikit Gothic environs…” Andrew Barker, Variety

“Scares are often on the generic side (pitch-black doorway, hand reaches out), and while some wild effects work enjoys the zanier side of Hell’s mouth opening up to spit venom across Earth’s surface, it’s missing the masterfully torturous tone that Wan’s universe otherwise aims for. Again, though, that’s not totally a bad thing!” Matt Donato, We Got This Covered

Production companies:

Atomic Monster/New Line Cinema/Safran Company

More nasty nuns on HORRORPEDIA

Image credits: Warner Bros. Pictures

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The Nun – action figure doll

The Bad Nun – UK, 2018

The post The Nun – USA, 2018: updated with more clips and 13 reviews appeared first on HORRORPEDIA.

This Week’s Mind-bending, Totally Bonkers Episode of “Castle Rock” Explained

“When continuity is interrupted, everything starts to slide.”

Well, we were begging for answers. And we got some pretty crazy ones this week.

Way back in the very first episode of Hulu’s “Castle Rock, a mysterious man (played by Pennywise himself, Bill Skarsgård) was found deep in the bowels of Shawshank, where he had been imprisoned by the warden for 27 years. Freed from his makeshift cell, “The Kid” was asked for his name. “Henry Deaver,” he told us. He was telling the truth. We just didn’t listen.

Last week, I had noted that watching “Castle Rock” is like trying to put together a puzzle, only there are so many pieces missing and someone keeps tossing pieces from other puzzles onto the pile. This week’s episode, titled ‘Henry Deaver,’ picked up all those pieces and threw them up in the air for a mind-bending 45 minutes that essentially rewrote everything we thought we knew about the series’ storyline. And by the time they landed back down, they formed an entirely different puzzle than the one we thought we were building these past nine weeks.

A puzzle, in many ways (but surely not all ways just yet), finally complete.

So what’s going on in Castle Rock? Well, ‘Henry Deaver’ managed to answer the two main questions that we’ve been asking ourselves throughout the season thus far:

1) What happened to Henry Deaver as a young boy, back in 1991?

and…

2) Who/what the hell is “The Kid”?

The answers to both questions are highly otherworldly in nature, with ‘Henry Deaver’ informing us that there are multiple timelines/universes that can be accessed through a portal in the woods of Castle Rock (that’s J.J. Abrams for ya). What happened to young Henry? He traveled through the portal and was temporarily trapped in an alternate reality.

Who is “The Kid”? He’s… uh… he’s actually Henry Deaver too. To break it down as neatly as possible, Skarsgård’s Henry exists in one reality. Andre Holland’s in another.

Crazy, but none of this craziness came entirely out of left field, as the character Odin explained to us what’s going on in the woods of Castle Rock back in Episode 6, titled ‘Filter’…

Other heres. Other nows. All possible pasts, all possible presents. Schisma is the sound of the universe… trying to reconcile them.

This piece of dialogue is the key to understanding the events of ‘Henry Deaver,’ which mostly took place in an alternate universe. This week, Bill Skarsgård played the role of Henry Deaver, a doctor who has just made an incredible breakthrough on his quest to correct the disease his mother Ruth suffers from, Alzheimer’s. This version of Henry returns to Castle Rock when he learns his father has killed himself, and it’s there that he finds and rescues a boy in his estranged father’s basement: a young Henry Deaver (Caleel Harris). Yeah, they went there.

After, the alternate version of Adult Henry reunites with childhood friend Molly Strand, and the two of them are led out into the woods by the young boy who we know to be Henry Deaver. It’s in the woods that the big reveal is made, with Adult Henry (Skarsgård) traveling through a portal and arriving in the show’s main version of Castle Rock (where he doesn’t belong) and Young Henry (Holland) returning to the show’s main reality (where he belongs). As for Molly, she’s accidentally shot dead out in the woods by an alternate version of Dennis Zalewski (Noel Fisher) in the alternate universe, the same man who went on a shooting spree in the other universe. But don’t worry, she’s still alive in the main reality we’ve been inhabiting.

Yes, there are *at least* two different realities for everyone in Castle Rock, and the gifted Henry Deaver has traveled between those realities. In Universe A, which the series has primarily been set in, Henry (Andre Holland) is the adopted son of Ruth and Matthew Deaver, who spent many years locked up in the basement of Universe B’s unrelated Matthew Deaver… perceived as mere days in Universe A. He grows up, moves away from Castle Rock and becomes a death row attorney, returning to the town to defend “The Kid” after he’s found in Shawshank.

In Universe B, Henry (Bill Skarsgård) is the biological son of Ruth and Matthew Deaver, who moves away from Castle Rock and becomes a doctor, returning to his hometown after his father kills himself. After discovering and saving Universe A’s Henry, Universe B’s Henry crosses over into Universe A, where he’s captured by Dale Lacy and held captive at Shawshank.

Two ordinary men. Wrongfully imprisoned due to the belief that they were each the Devil.

All along, we’ve been watching Universe A’s Henry interact with Universe B’s Henry, the two realities bleeding together without Universe A’s Henry (or us) ever realizing it. What’s the secret behind all the nightmares that have been consuming Castle Rock? Well, it seems the bleed-over of different realities has been messing with the town big time.

Never the twain shall meet, lest all hell break loose. You know the drill.

Henry Deaver’s entire existence is vastly different depending on which universe’s Henry we’re talking about (he’s a special case, after all, having been biologically created by a couple in one universe and adopted by that same couple in another), but the lives of the town’s other residents are also quite different depending on the universe. In Universe B, for example, Ruth and Alan Pangborn moved away from Castle Rock when they were younger, Ruth escaping her abusive husband in the way Universe A’s Ruth was never able to. The town itself is quite different as well, depending on the universe, with Universe A’s Castle Rock being run down and haunted by its past and Universe B’s Castle Rock presented as a much livelier, happier place.

If Universe B’s Henry was returned to Universe B, would the darkness over Universe A’s Castle Rock lift and become more like that alternate place? It seems Skarsgård’s version of Henry Deaver is indeed a plague on the town, not because he’s evil but simply because he’s been brought into a world that he’s not actually supposed to be part of. In his own world, Skarsgård’s Deaver is by all accounts a good man, leaving behind a (possibly pregnant) wife when he was displaced into Universe A. We wonder, how much time has passed in his world’s timeline?

More importantly, where does “Castle Rock” go from here? With only one episode remaining, we expect the series’ mystery box madness to only get more intriguing in its final hour.

Here’s hoping it all comes together in a satisfying way next week.