Spooky Shot: Unnaturally Natural

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This is one of my favorite spots in town, but usually I’m here in the summer, chilling on a pontoon boat with my friends. When I took a drive up there in March, this is what I found. I understand that water has the same chemical composition as ice, but still! To see the lake not flowing (and someone’s stupid yogurt cup top), felt unnatural.

Check out your favorite seasonal spots in the off-season. Do they lose their magic? Submit your own spooky shots here!

#BatesMotel: Norma Louise

Norman is back

The Details

  • One of Bob’s men shoots Sheriff Romero.
  • Norman goes into a trance, imagining all sorts of horrible things.
  • Dylan asks Caleb to leave town. Caleb agrees to work for their crazy neighbor.
  • Sparks fly between Dylan and Emma.
  • Norma flees to Portland, flirts with a guy, then visits Professor Finnegan, all the while being trailed by one of Bob’s men. She tells Finnegan about Norman’s blackouts and murdering his father. Then sleeps with him.
  • Marcus Young threatens Romero, saying that he can either work for him or die. Romero busts out of the hospital and kills him.
  • Norman becomes Norma.
  • Norma returns home, gets the boys, and goes to speak with Caleb. They hug it out, but Norman doesn’t seem thrilled about it.

The Big Q

Whose reality is real?

The Impact

This episode explored conflicting narratives. In the Norma-Caleb history, we see both parties mourning, one at the loss of innocence and the other at the lost possibility of reconciliation. Then we see Norman, who looks livid, likely because he’s taken on the angriest parts of Norma. In the Norma-Finnegan interpretation of her life, Norma believes there’s no hope, but Finnegan believes that therapy can help her make progress. Norman develops his own Norma persona in her absence, but Dylan knows it’s not Norma. Marcus tells Romero the only way for Romero to survive is if he works for Marcus, a reality that Romero wholeheartedly rejects.

Since each character has their own narrative that feels real to them, does that mean that there’s ultimately a multitude of realities? Can we accept Norman’s narrative to be as legitimate as our own?

#BatesMotel: The Deal

Dylan wakes up in a bar parking lot

The Details

  • Norma makes a deal: she’ll keep the flash drive safe in exchange for access to her motel from the bypass. It actually seems to work out.
  • Norman tells his hallucination of Norma about Dylan, which helps him accept that his blackouts are worsening.
  • Dylan decides to tell her about Caleb. Norman supports Dylan’s confession. Norma packs a bag and flees.

The Big Q

What makes trauma control someone’s life?

The Impact

Norman is living with the fact that he’s murdered two people. Dylan lives knowing that he has murdered and lives with memories of negligent parenting. Norma lives with her own family trauma, and she seems to be the least functional of the three of them, struggling to talk about her feelings. While trauma can never be minimized, is there a way Norma can be freed from its control?

What do you think?

Watch or Don’t: It Follows

It Follows is about Jay (Maika Monroe), a young woman who is followed by a vengeful spirit after a sexual encounter. If the spirit gets to you, you die, and it reverts to the person who gave it to you.

Entertainment Value

  • It honors the genre: a teaser death in the beginning, fantastic synthesizer score a la 80s horror, a grindhouse style of filming, and slow, imminent “monsters.” The film proved that these historical aspects can still work today.
  • Great literature. The movie uses quotes from The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot to develop its meditations on death.
  • Anachronistic setting. Basically the whole movie looks like it’s set in the late 80’s or early 90’s, but the opening scene involves a modern cell phone and one character carries makeup compact that is actually an e-reader. It was mildly annoying to be thinking, “When are we? Is everyone just a hipster? Is this just some small town that’s way behind? Is everyone just too poor to buy flat-screen TVs?” Toward the end of the film, it’s revealed that the location is Detroit and its suburbs. In reflection, the anachronism worked (more on this in the next section).
  • Authentic dialogue and acting. The people reacted believably for the situation, and the dialogue rang true. There were moments of humor, grief, panic, conflict, and desperation.

Dark Muse Value

This movie gave me enough to sink my teeth into, meditating on some important themes.

  • Coming-of-age. Some critics are saying the film is about STD transmission, but that’s too simplistic and superficial. Early sexual encounters are just the beginning. The film is full of adult acts and transitions: the loss of a father, early smoking and drinking, and finding a pornography stash. Water motifs throughout the movie represent birth and innocence. The characters in It Follows are on the verge of dry ground.
  • Death. The literary quotes make it clear that the film is meditating on the imminence and inevitability of death, something you notice more the older you get. This was why the original Night of the Living Dead was so scary. Death was coming for you, and it would catch up with you eventually. In It Follows, the kids try all sorts of things to delay death. At the end, when the setting is revealed to be Detroit, a city synonymous with trying to escape death and failing, this is even clearer. As for the anachronism, the significance there is that death is timeless. It doesn’t matter when you are; it still follows.

Verdict: WATCH

What did you think?


Norman is roused from sleepThe Details

  • Norman is afraid that he killed Annika, even though he didn’t.
  • Norma and Dylan try unsuccessfully to unlock the data on the flash drive Annika gave Norma. Several parties are looking for it.
  • Dylan enjoys getting to know both of his parents. For once, he feels loved.
  • Norman grows jealous of Dylan’s relationship with Norma and discovers that Dylan is harboring Caleb. Dylan begs Norman not to ruin things for him with Norma, but Norman refuses.

The Big Q

Is belonging more important than complete honesty?

The Impact

Norma and Dylan are not honest with Norman about his condition, but the knowledge may not be particularly helpful. Dylan is not honest with Norma about Caleb (who still hasn’t done anything wrong on the show), and the knowledge would only hurt her. In both of these cases, I am sympathetic (with a murderer and a rapist–eek!–but that’s the brilliance of the show). The problem is that so often the knowledge withheld impedes our ability to belong. If Norman didn’t feel like Norma and Dylan treated him like an outsider, he never would have gone in pursuit of knowledge to make Dylan take his place on the outside. What’s interesting is that the person who withholds the most knowledge, Norma, is never on the outside. As their mother, she holds the power. She will never not belong.

Will it ever be possible for these sons to successfully oust their mother’s control over them?