The Golden Arm, McMillion$, and More!

Heather (Rachel Brosnaham) looks at her golden arm in 50 States of Fright's "The Golden Arm" on Quibi

Welcome to What’s the Buzz, where members of our staff provide you with recommendations on a weekly basis. This week, Hawk Ripjaw is enthralled by “The Golden Arm,” Amber Welsh is watching McMillion$, and Vincent Greene recommends Underwater.

“The Golden Arm”

Hawk: Quibi is a new streaming service that deals in mostly exclusive, short-form shows exclusively for your phone. That’s already kind of a gonzo idea, but it’s nothing compared to one of its flagship shows, 50 States of Fright. The anthology series takes a folk tale from each of the 50 United States and turns it into a horror short film. The first, “The Golden Arm,” is split into three parts of less than ten minutes each, and hoo boy, is it something.

Co-written and directed by Sam Raimi and based on the folk tale, “The Golden Arm” focuses on married couple Dave (Travis Fimmel) and Heather (Rachel Brosnaham) living on a farm. Heather has an insatiable appetite for expensive gifts, which Dave provides despite the financial strain. One day, a logging accident causes a tree to fall on Heather’s arm and Dave chops it off. She begs him to forge her a golden prosthetic, which he does. Unfortunately, the gold absorbs into her bloodstream, causing a deadly disease called “pulmonary gold disease.” She makes Dave promise to bury her with her arm. After she’s died, Dave, in financial ruin, digs up the body to retrieve the arm, which awakens her vengeful spirit.

Though the presence of Raimi suggests a certain semblance of camp, “The Golden Arm” definitely seems to be taking itself very seriously. It plays like a combination of a Lifetime movie and standard supernatural horror, with performances so invested it almost feels like parody. Yet, Raimi has said nothing to suggest that his intent was anything beyond a straight scary story. It’s strange, because “The Golden Arm” is a riot.

When first trying to free his wife’s flesh and blood arm from beneath the tree pinning it, Dave begins yanking on it as if he were pulling bed sheets from his mattress. The line delivery of “golden arm” gets progressively funnier each time it’s uttered. There’s one scare in Part 3 that you can see coming a mile away if you’ve seen the Sacha Baron Cohen film The Brothers Grimsby, in which a comedic version of the situation is used. The centerpiece is a hospital conversation with a level of absurdly dramatic blowout that you’d be forgiven for thinking Justin Roiland wrote the bit. Yet, it appears to be playing itself completely straight.

Sam Raimi is indisputably a director with an extremely strong visual eye, and “The Golden Arm” has an excellent visual aesthetic including a very creative shot involving a photograph on a mantle. That’s one of a couple of decent scares in the climax, which comes and goes quickly and makes “The Golden Arm” an insignificant time investment. Like many others, I was drawn to the free trial of Quibi by Zach Raffio’s Twitter post sharing a clip from the show. It just gets better from there if you’re a fan of this sort of unintentional comedy. It’s well-made on a technical level; it’s just that the premise and the script for it are so goofy, but that’s what makes it fun. Right now you can sign up for a free 90 day trial of Quibi and see for yourself.


Amber: HBO has recently released a fair amount of content for free through April, and my favorite so far is McMillion$. I am a sucker for a good docu-series, and I think McMillion$ may have gotten overlooked in the wake of Tiger King. It has a little bit of everything; mystery, scandal, McDonald’s, crime, and my second favorite FBI agent to ever grace the screen, Special Agent Doug Mathews.
The show starts off modest enough, with rookie Agent Mathews looking for something more interesting to do than chase down healthcare fraud. A post-it note and a few phone calls later, and we are looking at a wild conspiracy that I still haven’t completely wrapped my head around. The number of people involved, from the FBI to McDonald’s to a printing company, is insane.

For those of you that are not familiar, McDonald’s started a little game of Monopoly in 1989. The most coveted pieces, of course, being Boardwalk and Park Place, the biggest winning combo. There were also instant win pieces that ran as high as a million dollars. The game was a success, increasing revenue every time McDonald’s ran the game.

Somewhere in the middle of this otherwise wholesome fast-food game of chance, someone decided to come up with the most elaborate and convoluted plan you could imagine. I don’t want to give too much away, but if it were not for Agent Mathews self-proclaimed ADD, it’s likely the world would never have known about this. The entire scheme spanned from 1989 to 2001 completely undetected.

If you enjoy wiretaps, undercover rookie agents, undercover McDonald’s employees, and a bunch of dumb luck, I cannot recommend McMillon$ enough. If that’s doesn’t convince you, give Agent Mathews a few minutes on screen, he is loud, he curses, he is arrogant, he laughs at his own stories, but for some reason, he still comes out as likable. I have no idea how or why any of this works, but it does. From start to finish, it’s a truly unique and exciting story. Did I mention the Mob?

Anyway, McMillion$ is streaming now on Hulu, HBO GO, and HBO NOW.

Underwater: Danger from the Deepest, Darkest Realms

Vincent: Underwater is an American science fiction/horror movie that was released earlier this year. It was written and directed by William Eubank and stars Kristen Stewart in the lead. The story centers around a group of scientists who find themselves in a battle for survival after their laboratory Kepler 822 is destroyed by an earthquake. It is only when the story unfolds that we see that the destruction from the earthquake is the least of the team’s worries. When they venture out into the dark void of the depths of the Mariana Trench, the real threat becomes known to the team of scientists.

After they leave the crumbling remnants of the laboratory, the team becomes aware of the presence of mysterious creatures that have invaded the area around the facility. Now they have to make a treacherous journey to home base if they have any chance of making it back to the surface. The way Eubank deploys the jump scares on the danger-filled journey is excellently done. The order and way the crew members meet their demise are unexpected and original.

Eubank is very good at making you look one direction and scare you from the other. His use of tactics like misdirection helps elevate the otherwise hollow story of Underwater. It keeps you interested because it never becomes predictable. From the off, it is a fast-paced movie with incredibly high stakes. The tempo of the movie is one of its greatest strengths, it is an A to B kind of story and it gets you there as quickly as possible. The only time it slows down is to remind you that there is no escape for the team of scientists—the claustrophobic suits are the only thing that stands between them and a watery grave.

Underwater is so incredibly tense and fraught with danger, the monster is at their door and there is nowhere for them to go. Every step they take is just edging them closer to the unseen terror that lays in wait for them. The reveal of the kaiju style monster is incredible—you are just like the remaining survivors, lost for words at witnessing things that you didn’t know were even possible. It is in these moments that Underwater shows us that is not just a survival horror but a movie with epic intentions.

The cinematography and special effects are very well done. They create a world that is very reminiscent of something from the Bio-Shock computer game franchise. It is a nuts and bolts world with a hint of modernity to it. Eubank manages to make a real world with relatable characters while not holding back on the grandiose. Underwater is a movie that squeezes you into tight spaces but never lets you forget the scale of the threat. Our heroes are quite literally swimming in an ocean brimming with all manners of horror.

Even though the story for Underwater is lacking a little it makes up for it by knowing where its strengths lay. It is a movie that accentuates its positives while doing a good job of distracting you from its negatives. It is chock-full with danger, rife with terror and is just waiting for you to take the plunge to see if you can face your fears and make it back to the surface in one piece.

Those are our recommendations this week! What are yours? Let us know in the comments!

Written by TV Obsessive

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