Triple Scoop Review: Seo Bok, Scream, and Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds

So, I’ve basically been ignoring movies in favor of marathoning television for the past three months, but hey! Here are a few films I’ve watched recently!

Seo Bok

Year: 2021
Director: Lee Yong Joo
First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Other – Viki
Spoilers: Not directly, I don’t think, but inferences can probably be made
Grade: Rocky Road

Whew. That was . . . yeah, a bit darker than I was expecting from a “jaded ex-agent has to protect the first human clone” movie. Although sometimes, that can be kind of a fun thing about watching foreign films: genre expectations are not necessarily universal, so sometimes, damn, you get a surprise.

Truthfully, I haven’t quite made up my mind about Seo Bok just yet. There are parts that I genuinely like. The acting, in particular: Gong Yoo and Park Bo Gum are  strong leads—I mean, obviously, they’re like 95% of the reason I watched this movie in the first place. I especially enjoyed Park Bo Gum, who was giving me some serious Hello, Monster nostalgia, but I was also happy to also see Jo Woo Jin (who I really enjoyed in Happiness) and Jang Young Nam (who I quite liked in It’s Okay to Not Be Okay). The action is fun. Some of the shots were rather lovely. Some of the thematic material works well for me.

However, not all of it does, and I’m still trying to pinpoint why that is, exactly. Admittedly, the basic thesis of this movie—we’re not meant to be immortal—has never been one of my favorite morals in the world. Still, I think my bigger problem isn’t so much the message but its execution. Seo Bok feels murky, convoluted. Too much going on and not nearly enough time to explore it. I often felt that characters—particularly the antagonists—were making decisions that felt nonsensical and inauthentic. Our heroes are essentially caught between dueling villains here, and I quite like the idea of that; however, that structure can go somewhat awry when you have villains with nebulous motivations making pretty dubious choices.

 Seo Bok is certainly not meant to be an upper; in fact, to me, it sorta feels like the nihilist answer to Space Sweepers. Still by the end, I feel like I was perhaps left with an even stronger sense of futility than the film actually intended. I don’t regret watching it at all, but I also feel like there’s a stronger story here, waiting to be whittled free.


Film Horror GIF by ScreamMovies - Find & Share on GIPHY

Year: 2022
Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett
First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Other – Paramount Plus
Grade: Chocolate

I admit, I was pretty excited when news of the latest Scream movie was announced, considering it’s probably my favorite horror franchise of all time, and I figured the guys who did Ready or Not might be a good fit for it. But I was also a bit nervous because, you know. It’s probably my favorite horror franchise of all time, and there comes a point when you just really don’t want to see certain characters die. For me, that specifically meant Sidney. I am emotionally invested in Sidney Prescott’s survival. Fortunately, I have good news: she makes it!

Overall, I enjoyed Scream. TBH, I enjoy all the movies in this franchise. Even Scream 3, which is probably the worst of the bunch, surprisingly has more to recommend than I’d initially remembered. Which isn’t to say I don’t have criticisms because, well. Me. My biggest problem here is that Melissa Barrera does very little for me as Sam. I wish I liked her more, I really do. I adored Jenna Ortega as Tara and spent the majority of the film wishing she was the primary Final Girl. Actually, I really like most of the cast. Jack Quaid being a villain isn’t exactly, er. Surprising? But I don’t even care because he’s hilarious, and I’ve really liked this actor in everything I’ve seen him in thus far. Also shoutouts to David Arquette, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, Dylan Minnette, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, and Skeet Ulrich—but NOT to Skeet Ulrich’s CGI because good Christ, stop. Just stop.

And I really do love the idea of our Final Girl being cheered on by hallucinations of Evil Daddy Billy Loomis. The scene where Sam stabs the shit out of Richie is easily her best in the whole film. Still, I would’ve loved it so much more if I ever bought Sam or had any investment in her character. I also think Scream might have some second act problems, but I’m not quite sure yet where I think it missteps. I do feel like Tara’s friends get dropped too long, which makes the Amber reveal a little underwhelming. Wes and Judy’s death scenes are good, but feel a bit disconnected from the rest of the film. (I still can’t bring myself to give a shit about Judy, but I do feel sorry for Wes.)  And I’m still trying to decide how I feel about Dewey’s death. I don’t mind that it happened, exactly, just . . . it’s so obvious that he’s gonna die when he goes back that it ends up feeling like a stupid move to me. IDK. I’m still thinking on it.

(Also, FFS. Is the hospital a 9-5 gig? Where are ANY of the employees here? Or for that matter, other patients? Hollywood continues to drive me crazy with this nonsense.)

Overall, though, I was pretty entertained. I had fun guessing suspects and motives and how many killers there would be this time around. Toxic Fandom is the Real Killer here feels pretty apropos for this franchise, and almost all of the dialogue and in-jokes worked well for me. (Poor Courtney Cox is never gonna live those terrible bangs down.) I also enjoyed the step up in gore, and while I may find Sam very dull, I’m always happy to see sisters survive. (See also, Sidney and Gale—I know, not actually sisters—who I really liked in this movie.) I do wish Kirby had come back, but it’s nice that we got confirmation she’s alive! (Though I admit, I absolutely missed said confirmation when it happened.) This movie isn’t perfect, no, but compared to some other horror franchises and their dismal ass sequels? Yeah. The Scream movies still got it.

Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds

Year: 2017
Director: Kim Yong Hwa
First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Other – Viki
Spoilers: Nah
Grade: Vanilla

So, this is a Korean fantasy-action film about a firefighter who dies and is escorted through the afterlife, facing seven trials in seven hells to see if he can be reborn. It’s a fun premise and an overall great cast with several actors I’ve enjoyed in other shows. Joo Ji Hoon from Kingdom. Kim Hyang Gi, who was (briefly) in Space Sweepers. I’m currently watching Kim Dong Wook in The Guest, and—like presumably many Americans—first saw Lee Jung Jae in Squid Game. Also D.O. (Hello Monster—yes, I know he’s also in EXO, but I know him from Hello Monster), Kim Soo An (Train to Busan), Ye Soo Jung (also Train to Busan), and a half a dozen other people I’ve seen pop up here and there. This is actually the first thing I’ve seen Ha Jung Woo in, but I enjoy him here, too.

My main problem with this film is easily Kim Ja Hong (Cha Tae Hyun), our firefighter, who is just . . . boring. He’s so boring, just zero personality whatsoever, and it feels like half his dialogue is incessantly calling after his mom. Literally everyone around him is much more interesting. My personal favorites are Joo Ji Hoon, who gives a very funny performance that’s wildly different from his work in Kingdom, Kim Soo Ann, because the God of Deceit is just the Best, and Kim Dong Wook, whose performance here alongside Ye Soo Jung provides the movie its heart. I’m probably supposed to feel moved by Ja Hong, too, but unfortunately . . . yeah, no. That’s partially because the character is so boring, but also because we learn some things about this guy that, well. I don’t want to get too deeply into spoilers, but let’s just say that the movie really wants me get into this heartwarming redemption, and I just couldn’t quite get there.

I do think the script could be tighter, and I wish the visual effects did justice to the premise (cause the CGI here is, uh, hilarious), but I also probably enjoyed the film enough to check out the sequel, especially since my least favorite character isn’t in it. Man. I wish that happened in more films. Like, give me Scream 6 without Sam. Or Guardians of the Galaxy 3 without Peter Quill, or Jurassic Whatever without Owen Grady, or . . . yeah, feel free to just pass up Chris Pratt at any opportunity in favor of Chris Pine, Chris Evans, or Chris Hemsworth, please and thank you.

Clarion West Write-A-Thon: Week 5 Update

Top Secret Code Name of Current Project: An Army of Janes
Current Pitch: The opening act of Resident Evil: Afterlife . . . but with less zombies.

Number of Darlings Killed: 2
Number of Thematically Relevant Conversations in the Dark: 2
Author’s Relief to Finally Be Finished With the Second Draft: Extreme

Song From Current Project Playlist: “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums” – A Perfect Circle

Goal Met: Yes

Apologies for my general absence from the blog of late. My RL dance card has been a bit full, so to speak, and that may be the case for a little while. On the upside, I successfully finished a draft of my clone story!

Is the draft any good? Not sure yet. I’m happy with some of it, although I think I might still have a little work to do with exposition, specifically which pieces I need to add and which I can just chuck. I’ve actually chucked quite a bit, although there’s definitely some parts that are heavy with the info dump . . . but in a way that I think feels natural with the story. It’s interesting. The more I work on Army of Janes, the more it feels like a small personal story in a much larger world. (Which is kind of funny, because you don’t really think about small personal stories including a lot of covert attacks on government facilities.) I don’t have any immediate plans to revisit that world, but I like to keep my options open. At any rate, I suspect I’m quickly approaching the point where I just can’t look at it anymore and have to send it to my crit buddies before I can do much else.

The thing about this story: I wrote the first draft of it years ago after watching Resident Evil: Afterlife because I was so disappointed by all that movie’s wasted potential, and I wanted to write my own clone story, something that really spent a lot of time talking about identity–because if a clone story is inherently about anything, it’s definitely about identity. There are some explosions and some face-melting and hopefully that’s as fun for (potential) readers as it is for me, but this is mostly a story, I think, about trying to figure out who the hell you are, and whether you have a moral obligation to stay true to yourself at all costs, or if you should try to be the kind of person others need you to be. I feel like these are some decently solid YA themes in that, despite it not actually being a YA story.

In conclusion, your random line of the week:

She’s disconnected again and in no particular hurry to reconnect, sitting in the sub-level with a dead parallel reality at her side and smoke drifting far above her.

Clarion West Write-A-Thon: Week 3 Update

Top Secret Code Name of Current Project: An Army of Janes
Current Pitch: The opening act of Resident Evil: Afterlife . . . but with less zombies.

Number of Clones: 6
Number of Existential Crises: 3
Use of Profanity: Liberal

Song From Current Project Playlist: “Bodies” – Drowning Pool

Goal Met: Yes.

I’m about 1/3 of the way through re-writing an incredibly soft military SF story, which I’m pretty happy with so far. If I can keep up this pace–which, admittedly, is never a certainty with me–I should be able to finish a workable draft by the end of the Write-a-Thon. But I’ve jinxed myself before, so. We’ll see.

I wrote the first draft of this story back in 2012 while I was at a Clarion West, and it seemed to be the favorite of  the greater majority of my classmates, which was nice because I was deeply anxious about it at the time. It took me forever to write (I had to skip Connie Willis’s reading just to finish it, although at least I’d seen her a few weeks earlier at the Locus Awards) and had an awful tendency to just break down into whole solid pages of exposition. Not to mention that, depending on your point of view, the story is either a charming throwback to retro SF or a worthless sham of science fiction with a complete and utter disregard for how cloning technologies actually work. I figure it’s maybe a little bit of both?

I’ve always had a fondness for this story, but I’ve avoided going back to it for years, probably because I didn’t want to deal with all those mountains of exposition. But lately I’ve felt good about returning to it. I’ve been working on a lot of stories with multiple narrators lately, and while–thank Christ–this story only has one, I feel weirdly like I’m more prepared now to deal with it and its half dozen characters who all have enormously complicated relationships with one another. Maybe I’ve just grown as a writer, or something. One can hope, anyway.

In conclusion, your Random Line Of The Week:

Every Jane would become a dead Jane, in the end.

Five Utterly Ridiculous TV Crossovers (That Would STILL Make More Sense Than Bones/Sleepy Hollow)

Last week, the world learned that there would be a Bones/Sleepy Hollow crossover, which seemed . . . strange, considering that Bones is a criminal procedural with absolutely zero supernatural elements (brain tumor-induced hallucinations of dead people and cartoon characters aside), and Sleepy Hollow is a show about an 18th century soldier who gets resurrected into the modern era by his imprisoned witch wife so that he might become one-half of a supernatural crime-fighting duo destined to try and stop the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from destroying the world. They’re not exactly peanut butter and jelly, is what I’m saying.

Of course, then I immediately had to come up with my own ridiculous crossovers. (Potential SPOILERS for all shows mentioned.)

1. Scott McCall’s Pack of Miscellaneous-Creatures-That-Are-Mostly-Not-Werewolves Scouts Colleges in Central City


Teen Wolf meets The Flash

Stiles may have a vision that involves the pack moving to the Bay Area, but everyone decides to check out some (heretofore unmentioned) college in Central City anyway, over his animated and vehement protests. Of course, there’s a grisly werewolf murder as soon as they get there.

Flash and the gang investigate, naturally assuming the culprit is a metahuman, but are abruptly introduced to the supernatural once they meet Scott’s pack. Scott and Barry have some hero bonding time, while Sheriff Stilinski (acting as chaperone) commiserates with Joe on being the parent/law enforcement in-on-the-know. Lydia will help Caitlin with science things (and possibly fashion tips), while Cisco and Stiles will obviously geek out together — or, alternatively, hate each other because they’re both The Funny One. (I’m so torn on this.) Meanwhile, Kira will probably kick some werewolf ass (and bond with Iris, I guess?) while Malia will mostly be around to point out all the mistakes the Flash gang regularly makes. (For some reason, Malia point blankly informing Barry that his ideas are stupid fills me with such joy.)

Things will end happily, keeping to The Flash’s generally lighter tone, but if we need a Big Emotional Moment at some point, that will obviously go to Cisco and/or Stiles. Malia should (a) mistake Barry, Cisco, Iris, and Caitlin for high schoolers, and (b) be surprised at how many people actually wear shirts in Central City, as opposed to Beacon Hills. Oh, and Scott and Barry should probably duke it out at least once. You know, for science.

2. The Best Superhero Road Trips End in Clones


Arrow meets Orphan Black

Oliver and Felicity have fucked off to the open road, leaving their vigilantism and unnecessary angst behind in Starling City. Unfortunately, they get a panicked SOS from Roy, who has somehow found himself in Toronto, ass deep in Clone Club problems.

I’ll admit, I don’t have any idea how Roy became involved in Clone Club problems, and I don’t care. What I do care about is a scene where Helena strokes Roy’s exquisitely beautiful cheek and says something like, “I have boyfriend, but you are very cute. You will protect babies with me, yes?” and Roy is utterly terrified.

Felicity and Felix will get along, obviously, and will both get immense satisfaction from watching Felicity’s cell phone video of Oliver doing the salmon ladder. Felicity will have to nerd out with Cosima, too, possibly playing extra geeky board games. Meanwhile, Allison will host some kind of wholesome cutesy dinner for her new guests, and Oliver will sit through it with his usual tight smile and otherwise vaguely-pained expression.

Diggle won’t come up to visit, but he will video chat with Felicity so he can get a good look at all the clones and, hopefully, have a reaction like this.

3. The Machine Has a New Number, and It’s a Heavily Sedated Sensate


Person of Interest meets Sense8

Finch and Root have brought The Machine back to life, somewhat, but it’s definitely weakened. It does, however, give them a new number: Will Gorski, a policeman from Chicago who has recently gone missing. They manage to track him down in a New York safe house, where Riley, Nomi, and Amanita are continuously drugging him. Reese and Root understandably misread the situation at first and fight Nomi/Sun and Riley/Wolfgang in an epic battle sequence before they all realize they’re trying to do the same thing: save Will.

After everyone’s caught up on the various conspiracies that make up the plots of these shows, Team PoI has to help the Sensates get out of New York (and probably the country) because Samaritan is now on Whispers’ side and is helping to track them down. Nomi, Finch, and Root all have to do some Super Hacking together at some point and, hopefully, Amanita gets the opportunity to both help and annoy the dour Mr. Reese. Cause, c’mon. You know they would be the most delightful pairing.

Everyone makes it out alive at the end, although some of the good guys definitely get shot. Especially Reese, who I think has been shot at least three times in four seasons, and we wouldn’t want things to get too easy for that guy.

4. Goofy Adventure Fantasy Accidentally Stumbles Into Grimdark


The Librarians meets Game of Thrones

So, our Librarians (all of them, including Jenkins) are affected by some kind of magical artifact thingy and get sucked into the world of Game of Thrones. Worse, they get separated and have to figure out how to get back into their own silly-happy world before they’re all brutally and awfully murdered.

Flynn and Baird end up with Brienne and Podrick. Brienne and Baird get along well enough, though Brienne obviously has no use for Flynn and his manic, flailing antics. He’ll probably amuse Pod, though, who I imagine is just happy that Brienne is yelling at someone else, for once. Brienne and Baird will obviously have to do hand-to-hand at some point.

Ezekiel and Stone, meanwhile, will end up at the Wall, arriving just in time to see Jon Snow resurrected by flame. Stone is disgusted with the men of the Watch for betraying their commander (and, also, by the tacky, grotesque artwork that is surely hung improperly on the walls inside), while Ezekiel is mostly freaked out by Melisandre because that woman be scary. Ezekiel will also take the time to mock Jon Snow and all his brooding because that obviously needs to happen whenever possible.

Finally, Cassandra and Jenkins will end up in Mereen with Tyrion and Varys, mostly so Jenkins can be offended that absolutely nobody here is behaving in any kind of noble, Arthurian way and grump a lot about it. Tyrion will snark back, and Varys will be idly fascinated by one of Cassandra’s math visualization things (technical term) while simultaneously wondering how these people have survived this long.

There will be much discussion of power and morality in this crossover. There will also be many instances where each character from one ‘verse asks each character from the other ‘verse, “What is WRONG with you people?”

5. Zombies Arrive at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital


iZombie meets Grey’s Anatomy

Okay, I haven’t watched Grey’s Anatomy in a few years now, but hey, they both take place in Seattle, so why the hell not, right? Do you know how much more awesome Meredith’s VO narrations would be if they were about zombies? Yeah. SO MUCH more awesome.

There are actually a few ways this can go. iZombie ends its first season at a hospital, and there’s really no reason it couldn’t be Grey Sloan Memorial. (For that matter, I don’t think the show ever named the hospital that Liv used to work at, so Liv could totally have worked or gone to school with one of the interns there. Stephanie, maybe.)

But I kind of don’t want this to be subtle, like, I want a full-on zombie outbreak where various doctors die because, let’s face it, that’s just what doctors do on that show. (Don’t believe me? Here’s a list: George, Sloan, Lexie, Reed, Percy, Heather, and fucking McDreamy. Seriously, they killed both McSteamy AND McDreamy. How does that even happen on a network television show? And that’s not even bringing in all the tragic love interests and dead parents. Grey’s Anatomy is a Show of Death, you mark my words)

So, maybe this could happen: Liz goes with Clive and Ravi on their usual case of the week, but whatever suspect she sees in her vision turns zombie and starts eating other patients and staff. Liz has to stop the zombie outbreak from spreading while somehow keeping Clive (and most everyone else) from figuring out what’s actually going on. (I suspect Ravi will be doing some very fast-talking here.) Bailey, Meredith, and Alex will all find out about zombies and survive as a reward for still being alive from the first season. Cristina will also make a guest appearance because Cristina Yang vs Zombies is a thing that totally needs to happen.

Jo will definitely die, though. Jo will get eaten, like, a LOT. And at least one or two other main cast members will have to bite it. Maybe April? Or Amelia Shepherd? I hear she’s annoying. Or possibly Richard, if you want to tug at the heart strings. How Richard (a mentor) outlasted McDreamy (the One) continues to boggle my fucking mind. But I kind of like him all the more for it.

All right, those are my ridiculous crossover ideas for now. Ideas for your own? Leave them in the comments.