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Review: October Faction – The Horror Out of Time S1E3

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In the first 15 minutes of The Horror Out of Time, we get transported back to 1990 and see Deloris and Fred get married in a super-secret, cult-like ceremony a scene that is undercut with scenes of them killing monsters in a simulation/ Presidio graduation.

This flashback would have been touching and romantic except we flash forward to a hotel room in the present where Fred is alone with another Presidio agent and it’s clear that there was a whole different type of debriefing going on but, the real heartbreak comes when the next cut shows us Deloris reminiscing over an album of their life together. Viv talks to her mom about the new friend she made and school and Geoff and his boyfriend break up over video chat because Asia is a bit too far for a long-distance teenage love affair.

A biker vampire gang catches up with Deloris outside of the local bar and she ends up hiding out in the house tending to her wounds while newly returned hubby gets the kids ready for school where Geoff plots to overthrow the reigning king of the school, Phillip and Viv reveals to Geoff (and eventually Cathy) that she drew the bus crash before it happened. If that has your interest piqued, you’d be happy to know that the next 28 minutes were just as interesting and entertaining.

WHAT WORKED: I’m really feeling the flashback cuts scenes and the way they introduce you to the story and characters allowing you a way to get into the story, whether or not you’ve seen any of the previous episodes. I still think the writing is solid, the acting is on point and the cinematography is beautiful to look at. I also like the flow and contradictions in the parent’s timeline and story, it really adds a nice layer to the story. There are so many moving parts and side stories going on and the writing, for the most part, makes it easy to get immersed in the October Faction universe.

WHAT DIDN’T: I wasn’t a fan of the way that Cathy cracked, it didn’t seem to be in character, she didn’t seem the type to let peer pressure get to her and letting Viv’s secret slip out to Madison just because she asked a couple of times. I get that the writers need to propel the story forward but, having a character act this far out of characters is a push and unnecessary when every other aspect of the story is compelling or believable. While Geoff being “tricked” by Ghost Steve was a believable way to push him further to the outside of the school hierarchy,  there were other options to push Viv further outside the circle so, having her only friend act out of her established character and betray her seems a bit unnecessary and a reach.

BEST LINE(s): 

“There are a lot of narrow-minded people who will use what makes you different to bash you into submission”

– Cathy (to Viv) about keeping her dark precognitive art journal entries to herself.

Cathy said that and I felt it.

BEST MOMENT:  When Deloris is rebuffed by Baz after saving him in the bar and goes to sit in the car to sort things out emotionally ends up getting attacked by the gang of Vamps. Here’s the thing, we all know that she can take care of herself and we know that she’s had to for years and physically she’s a badass but, in this vulnerable moment right before the Vamp gang smashes her window and yank her out of the car she’s feeling the hopelessness and sadness that comes from losing a true friend. At that moment the writing and the directing and camera work all work together seamlessly, she is settling in a moment of realization that sometime you can’t fix things and it is so well-acted that it’s like a gut punch, it is tender and it is real.

EPISODE’S MVP: Steve the Ghost Jock! When “the quiet one” that Geoff tries to recruit to rise up in the ranks and depose reigning school king Phillip gives Geoff a message to give Phillip, he is more than happy to oblige. Unfortunately, Steve is dead and he died in a car accident so, delivering that message nearly gets him beaten to death by the team. Here’s the thing, Geoff’s plan was kind of stupid and it needed to be wrecked so, Steve turned out to be a ghost was not only a nice way to introduce Geoff’s special ability but, Steve ending up being dead and setting him up like that was kind of next-level good for the storyline, making him this episodes MVP.

Overall: 8.1 

Review: October Faction – No Country for Old Vamps S1E2

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No Country for Old Vamps” takes us back to October 1987 when Fred and Deloris are high school students, Deloris dealing with the death of her dad at the hands of a monster and Fred dealing with the death of his brother, at his hands. We see what will become the loving couple as youngsters out on their first kill, they started out hunting solo but, when Fred finds himself in a bit of a jam and face to face with a monster and Deloris killing the beast with her to save him. Then, in a twisted act of romance Fred reaches into the monster’s stomach and pulls out Deloris’s father’s badge and hands it to her, which in my opinion was way better than flowers for such an unconventional first date.

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We then get transported back to the future as the Allen family works out the details of staying in Barrington for the twins senor year and Fred’s mother moving in with them and get to meet this seasons big bad who is the newly released from the water female monster we met at the end of the first episode who seems to be just fine and hunting down Presidio agents and headed straight for the Harlow House where they’re staying. The kids are working at fitting in at their new high school and adjusting to spending their senior year in a Tim Burton town.

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WHAT WORKED: The family and high school dynamics are realistic and rung true, everything about the family was authentic and well thought out, including the callbacks to Deloris and Fred’s past and the way that they each chose to deal with it. The kids come off as bratty but, also respectful and loved and they’re acting age-appropriate without resorting to the one-dimensional teen archetype formula that most shows use as a statement of fact.

I also really liked the humanization of the “monsters” that was a continuation from the pilot episode where the Ad Vamp tried to appeal to Fred’s humanity. In a world where Presidio kills all monsters, you have to believe that just like when it comes to humans, not all of them are evil and some of them might just be trying to survive. This humanization continued in this episode as we are introduced to Alice Harlow, the lady from the lake, and while we don’t have the full story we can see the pain on her face which makes me wonder if Presidio created the monsters that they hunt by treating them all the same.

WHAT DIDN’T: The “outing” in the lunchroom. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure that small towns are notorious for this type of thing, calling someone a “homo” and having it be a sting but, in this instance, it was a weird jump to go from him knowing personal stuff about a teacher having an affair to calling him gay in the cafeteria. Those two don’t mesh and there is no line straight, jagged, curved or circular that would lead to that happening in that way. I kind of felt like the writers wanted to drive home Geoff’s gay reveal that they slid in the pilot and chose the sloppiest and laziest way to do it and if that wasn’t their intention the alternative logic is worse because that would mean they used his sexuality to add tension to the story which is lazy and offensive. While I acknowledge small-town prejudices, I can’t accept that that was what made Geoff an outcast like his social awkward sister when there was no lead up to anyone appearing to care about his sexuality. I also didn’t get why a video of Geoff being called a skin peeling monster would end up on the internet and why it would upset him.

BEST MOMENT: (There’s a spoiler in between the two pictures so if you haven’t seen the episode yet, you might want to scroll down)

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The big reveal that dear old dad/grandpa Sam is ALIVE and being held at a Presidio Guantanamo until they can find out more details of what he was hiding in Seth’s room and what is coming to kill them all!

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EPISODE’S MVP: This episode introduced a new character named Cathy (“Cat”) and she is EVERYTHING. She’s an awkward nerd girl who alternates between spouting super nerdy references and philosophical observations and I am all the way here for it. She acts as a high school sensei for Viv and helps her find a “fortress of solitude” in an abandoned room where they can hang out and start, for lack of a better word, coven on students who are done with the high school hierarchy. She is headstrong, smart, quirky and her true self at all times and she’s written in a way that makes her seem real and authentic. They didn’t make her the cliched nerdy best friend or comic relief, she’s a well fleshed out character who holds her own and is something for all the “weird” girls to believe in so, while she wasn’t a monster slayer or a badass in the traditional sense of the world in this kind of show, she was a treat and a welcome addition to the cast.

Overall: 8.7

Review/Recap: October Faction – Presidio S1E1

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This post contains Spoilers.

Presidio,” the premiere episode of Netflix‘s latest foray into graphic novel and comic book property supremacy, October Faction, begins with a family trip to the town of Barrington to pay their respects to their dead grandpa. During the car ride we learn that the son, Geoff, has taught himself Mandarin using old 80’s TV shows, the daughter, Viv, is a superior student and the parents, Fred and Deloris,  are definitely not in the risk management business like their cover suggests. At a gas station, they find a creepy Zoltaresque machine and the daughter gets a fortune and what looks like visions of a gruesome future. After a racist run-in with the station’s owner, the family hops back in the car and gets back on the road to the dad’s family home.

Sandra St. Clare, an old high school acquaintance, is the executor of Fred’s family estate and while she tries to sort out the details of what happens next, Fred is in a rush to sell the house ASAP so the family can move on.  While exploring the house the twins find themselves feeling hella uneasy, we discover that Fred had a falling out with his family over joining Presidio and bringing his now wife with him after the death of his brother Seth. Mourning isn’t the only purpose of the trip, the parents use biometrics to log into the house, upload data to the main office in NY and stockpile the weapons in the house to clean it and prep it before a Presidio cleaning team comes to clear it out officially.

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Unable to sleep the dad decides to use the key that Sandra gave him for the locked room, belonging to his dead brother  Seth, we learn that he is the one who killed his brother and going into his old room gave him a chance to cry and grieve the loss that mattered to him. After a quick funeral montage, we meet Margaret, Fred’s mom who shows up, not to grieve her estranged husband but, to claim the house.  At the wake, Deloris catches up with an old friend, Gina who is now the town sheriff,  Fred makes awkward small talk with people from his past who only want to kiss his ass because of his family’s money and, the twins engage in avoiding awkward interactions with the local teens whose parents have dragged them to the morbid soiree.

During a drunken drive into town in Fred’s old muscle car to get supplies for the wake, the parents engage in a little puff, puff, pass action and wax nostalgic about their monster-killing jobs and concern about the kids not knowing who they really are and what they really do for a living with conflicting opinions about how to handle it.  Their inebriated condition, and lack of weapons,  makes it a bit hard to be prepared when they run into a couple of monsters in human suits at the local supermarket and need to end them. Back at the mansion, Geoff finds the will and laments that they weren’t on the will and they decide to gather the local teens to perform a seance.

Meanwhile, the parents are back at the supermarket in fresh clothes after hacking up the monsters and stuffing them in the trunk and making the butchers death look like a satanic serial killer and, now that he’s sober Fred he lets Deloris know that Edith, the head of Presidio, is transferring the family to Oslo after the family finally got settled. The seance for Grandpa Samuel is in full effect back at the house and Geoff begins to see some a ghost while he engages in sexy time with one of the other funeral goers.  While Viv is under, she sees a chained and drowning women breaking free from her underwater prison and surfacing to roam free.

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This was one of the most carefully crafted and beautifully executed pilots that I have ever seen. The characters were introduced flawlessly, the plot was laid out in a way that would intrigue people new to the October Faction and would make fans, casual or devout, of the comic fall right into a familiar place. The visuals are high quality, dark when they need to be and bright when they need to give you a feeling of hope, the dialogue isn’t clunky or cliched and it gives you a feeling that these are real people, making it easy to connect and giving you a reason to keep watching. The acting is on point, there isn’t a hammy or phoned in performance in the bunch and the cast seems to work really well together feeding off of each other’s instincts and talent.  I found this to be stellar, not just as a pilot but as an episode and I can’t wait to see what else this newly found Netflix gem has in store.

Overall: 9.1

IDW and Steve Niles’ October Faction Gets a Trailer

Locke & Key is getting the news but another IDW Publishing published comic also saw a trailer drop. October Faction is based on the comic series written by Steve Niles that featured art by Damien Worm.

October Faction follows Fred (J.C. MacKenzie) and Deloris Allen (Tamara Taylor) who, after the death of Fred’s father, return to their hometown in New York with their 17-year-old twins Geoff (Gabriel Darku) and Viv (Aurora Burghart). Subsequently, Geoff and Viv’s lives are turned upside down when they discover their seemingly unremarkable insurance sales rep parents are, in fact, (spoiler alert!) trained assassins who hunt monsters.

October Faction debuts on Netflix on January 23.