Netflix Review: You (Season 2) – The Creepiest Show on Television Continues (Spoiler-Free)

The show focused on a crazed stalker of women shifts to the other side of the US and to a new target.

SUMMARY (Spoilers for Season 1)

Having killed the object of his obsession in season 1, Beck (Elizabeth Lail), Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) moves to Los Angeles to flee another of his exes, Candace (Ambyr Childers) and resolves to quit his stalker lifestyle. He gets a new identity from Will Bettelheim (Robin Lord Taylor) and gets hired at a bookstore owned by Forty Quinn (James Scully). He moves in next to reporter Delilah (Carmelo Zumbado) and her sister Ellie (Jenna Ortega), but quickly falls for another woman named Love (Victoria Pedretti). Joe attempts to change his ways for her, but his inner crazy stalker starts to come out.

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Penn Badgley does a great job, just like before. It scares me.

END SUMMARY

This show has an interesting way of simultaneously being so disturbing that I don’t want to watch it but so unpredictable and creatively told that I can’t stop. It’s the only binge show where I have to take breaks for my sanity but know that I have to go back to binging it or it will eat at me to not know where the story goes. It’s even more annoying because so much of the story structure is recycled from Season 1, but it still feels surprising. I will say that, much like last season, several times it felt like the entire show changed in an episode, and it never got old. 

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We also have some interesting side-elements that just pop-up and they work well.

Part of what allows the show to change so frequently is that we always have a focal point in our unreliable narrator, which is usually Joe/Will narrating a story towards the object of his obsession. Since he lies to that person, and vicariously himself, frequently, he’s also deceiving the audience. The conflict between what we see objectively and what is narrated to us is one of the most compelling aspects of the show, frequently making us realize that we’re being sympathetic TO A MURDEROUS STALKER. Whereas in Season 1 we might have had hope that he really would realize the nature of his actions in time to keep himself from going over the last line he had, by this point we know that he was willing to rationalize his own actions no matter how extreme. He claims that he wants to reform, but the nature of television tells us any reformation will be replaced by another obsession. Still, that means that the viewers will always be on our toes.

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He. Kills. People. And yet he has a ton of defenders on-line and I get it.

One change to the season is the presence of Candace, who was presumed to be Joe’s first victim before Beck in Season 1. It turns out that she’s not dead, but she is determined to destroy Joe’s life for what he did to her. While she is technically the antagonist, she’s clearly the anti-villain to Joe’s anti-hero. We have no sympathy for her actions from his perspective, with Joe denying any ill-intent towards her, but ultimately she is in the “right.” Joe stalks and kills women. She’s a woman. It’s amazing how much the narrative can make her seem like the crazy one, just by playing things from Joe’s point of view. 

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The other supporting characters in this season are a step-up from the first. They’re much more complex and contain their own hidden dark sides. Forty, who seems like a complete spoiled rich-kid with delusions of artistic grandeur, turns out to be much more relatable. Love’s friends are given more depth than Beck’s companions. Heck, we even get some flashes into Joe’s past which tell us a bit about how he got to be who he is. Just a solid improvement in this category.

Overall, this show is still disturbing, but it also has the ability to constantly surprise the viewer with all of the twists and close-calls. If you liked the first season, you’ll like this one.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Netflix Review – The Haunting of Hill House (Spoiler-free)

I wrote this two weeks ago, when it would have been timely, then kept bumping it. So… hopefully this still works for some of you.

SpoilerFree

In 1959, Shirley Jackson wrote what is still considered to be one of the best horror stories of all time, famous for the relatively little amount of actual horror in it. “Horror” is usually defined as involving an actual scare or the feeling of revulsion and fear that comes after experiencing it, like what happens after you see Cthulhu or a Naked Steve Bannon. Instead, most of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House was heavily reliant on feelings of dread and the emotional instability of the characters.

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Has Netflix adapted “The Lottery” yet? That might be interesting.

In 1963, this film was adapted into The Haunting by famed director Robert Wise (West Side Story, The Sound of Music, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Editor of Citizen Kane, etc.). The title changed to differentiate it from House on Haunted Hill. It was a solid terror film which managed to spend most of the movie making the characters, and the audience, uncertain if anything happening was supernatural or if it was all in the mind of the main character. It’s still regarded as a high point of cinema and is great upon rewatching. It’s not everyone’s favorite, mostly because it DOES rely heavily on dread rather than actual scares, but I personally love it.

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Did I mention the director was amazing at dramatic shots?

In 1999, Jan de Bont, fresh off of Speed 2, remade the movie and it was so bad that Catherine Zeta-Jones wearing nearly nothing couldn’t help it. Granted, I was 12 when it came out, so I didn’t have that opinion at the time, but I have seen it since and, wow, it really was not well thought-out. Roger Ebert thought the production design was good, which… okay, I guess is true, but that’s not what I look for in a movie. However, it did work as a great basis for parody in Scary Movie 2.

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Not even those… I mean She… could save this movie.

Well, this year Netflix decided to adapt it into a 10 episode TV series, the first one to be titled The Haunting of Hill House. While it had to change almost everything from all of the previous incarnations in order to fill the time, it captures the spirit of the book very well, despite being its own animal.

SUMMARY (Spoiler free)

Twenty-six years ago, the Crain family moved into Hill House. During their relatively short stay there, a large number of incidents involving the supernatural occurred, scaring and scarring every member of the family, before they were forced to flee after a particularly horrible event. Now, all of the family members are massively dysfunctional from the event and rarely communicate. However, after another family tragedy, they are all forced to confront the fact that none of them have ever fully left the house, resulting in them returning to resolve things.

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Also, this house is haunted, if it’s real. If not, the computer that generated it is haunted.

END SUMMARY

If you’re a fan of horror, you need to watch this show. It’s one of the best collections of horror images you can get in 10 episodes. The designs of the ghosts are fantastic, but one of the best parts is that they’re so well hidden that you can miss them throughout entire scenes until the end, but they’ve been there the entire time.

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There’s a hidden ghost in this image. Try to find it.

The show is structured non-chronologically with many episodes containing events from both the past and present timelines running together, but this later becomes important to the story because some of the events don’t happen exactly chronologically either in the traditional sense. It ties the traumas of the past more directly with the issues that the Crains have in the present.

What’s really impressive about this show is that it doesn’t have any resemblance to the book whatsoever. The book and the original movie both contain a lot of hints that much of what’s going on is just in the head of the characters and that they’re letting their fears get the better of them. This show demonstrates ghosts about 10 minutes in and shows over a dozen of them. In that sense, it’s almost closer to *shudder* the 1999 reboot, but fortunately, it does everything right which that movie did wrong, while also doing more than the original film.

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The TV series, for example, doesn’t have a terrible, giant CGI ghost.

Earlier I brought up how the book mostly focused on terror and dread over horror and revulsion. This show actually manages to do both at the same time, because we’re following two different timelines. We see the horror of the characters reacting to the past events and in flashbacks we see the terror building up to these events, but we also get the horror coming from present events that scare the characters, while also building up the terror of the inevitable return to the house that both the audience and the characters know is coming.

The family dynamics also really sell the show. All of the characters are dysfunctional and resentful towards each other, but each one also has some other defining element, whether it be a connection to ghosts, psychic abilities, or just being high as hell all the time. Each of these distinctions adds to the level of resentment and conflict between the characters, because they literally have something that the other parties can’t understand.

Overall, I can’t talk too much about the show without spoiling it, which has made this difficult, but it’s really a solid show. If you like horror, you’ll like this. If you don’t… you’ll probably hate it for making you spill your lukewarm broth that you have for every meal.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.