Tag Archives: police

Things Heard & Seen: Netflix’s Twisty New Thriller Is Based on a Book - Read the Spoilers

By | April 16, 2021

As a bookworm, I take pride in the fact that I can usually say “Eh, the book was better.” However, after viewing the trailer for Netflix’s upcoming thriller, I’m not so sure that will be the case with Things Heard & Seen. The movie already looks like it’ll be more fast-paced than the book it’s inspired by, All Things Cease To Appear by Elizabeth Brundage. While the trailer amps up the suspense and mystery right away, the book takes a more lackadaisical approach in weaving the eerie tale. If you’re curious about Things Heard & Seen, coming to Netflix on April 29, here’s what to know about the book version.

The Clare Family

All Things Cease to Appear centers around an old farmhouse in Upstate New York with a gruesome past. George Clare claims his wife has been murdered and that he needs someone to call for help. Catherine Clare is discovered with an axe in her head in her bedroom; she had been home alone with her 3-year-old daughter, Franny, all day. Who murdered Catherine? Well, the book won’t tell you because it frustratingly bounces between several timelines. George is questioned by the police, before skipping town with Franny the next morning.

The Hale Family

The book jumps to when Cal and Ella Hale are living on their old family dairy farm. They have three sons: Eddy, Wade, and Cole. Life isn’t great, but they’re making the best of it. Like other farms in the area, they’ve fallen upon hard times. Cal takes out his frustrations on his family and turns to drinking and abusive behavior to cope. Ella knows her husband isn’t faithful, and frankly, she doesn’t seem to care much. She knows she is a good mom, and that her sons will grow up to be good men.

When life becomes too much, Cal dies by suicide and kills his wife by leaking gas into their bedroom. When the bodies are discovered, the brothers are swept away to live with their uncle in the nearby town. The boys can’t seem to give up on the house they love. They come by the house and offer to do chores around the farm. Catherine (yes, the one who is later murdered) finds it incredibly helpful, and the boys find comfort being back on the family farm. Cole becomes their babysitter, entertaining Franny while the older two boys do the harder physical labor. They spend a lot of time with Catherine and they make her feel useful and wanted.

Getting to Know Catherine

The story jumps once again to Catherine’s perspective. As a city girl, she finds it incredibly hard to settle on the 200 acres of farmland they purchased. She feels uneasy in the house but can’t figure out why. Eerie instances abound; chills go down her spine when she walks through certain areas, she finds someone else’s (Ella Hale’s) rings near the sink while doing dishes, and she sees another woman’s reflection in the window. The reader learns that George knows of the house’s tragic past, but Catherine does not.

Getting to Know George

George appears to be a pitiful, helpless widow, but through a series of flashbacks, you discover that isn’t quite the case. He gaslights Catherine at every turn. In fact, George and Catherine had actually broken up when she found out she was pregnant but they get married to “do the right thing.” He forges a letter and his qualifications in order to get his job at the college. He becomes involved with Willis, a 19-year-old from California. He sexually and verbally abuses Willis, at one point cutting all of her hair off, just to establish control over her. He is and unfaithful, manipulative sociopath.

The Chilling Conclusion

It’s a snowy day when Catherine works up the courage to leave George. She packs some suitcases and Franny in the car, then is unable to pull out of the driveway. Catherine goes back inside dejected and quickly loses steam with her entire plan. She admits to George that she was planning on leaving when he questions her about the suitcases. From there, we’re led to assume that George murders Catherine, drugs Franny with sleeping medicine, and goes to work the next day.

The story concludes with an epilogue years in the future. Franny is in med school as a surgical apprentice, hating life. She is sleeping with a married man, renting a small, sterile apartment, and doesn’t have much zest for life. She receives a call that her father’s real estate agent has sold the old farmhouse and needs Franny to come clear out their personal belongings. George is an old man at this point, going blind from diabetes and unable to help at all. When Franny steps back in the house she feels a chill and a sense of calm all at once; she feels like she’s home. She makes her rounds around the town and the book awkwardly ends with Cole and Franny making out.

Overall All Things Cease to Appear is slow burn. It’s got some great bones, just as George says in the trailer for Things Heard & Seen, but the story might actually make for a better film.

The Serpent: Why Charles Sobhraj Was Known as the Bikini Killer

By | April 15, 2021

Image Source: Getty / Prakash Mathema

Netflix’s The Serpent takes a chilling look at some of French serial killer Charles Sobhraj’s most infamous crimes. Cunning and manipulative, Sobhraj was an expert at deceiving strangers and evading the police across Europe and Asia, which earned him the nickname The Serpent. Sobhraj was also known as the Bikini Killer among media and police due to the clothes his victims – usually tourists on vacation – were often found wearing.

Sobhraj’s first known victim, Teresa Knowlton from Seattle, was found drowned in the Gulf of Thailand wearing a floral bikini in 1975. While Knowlton’s outfit during the time of her death was altered in the Netflix mini series, she would be the first of Sobhraj’s victims to be found dead in a bikini. Following the deaths of Turkish traveler Vitali Hakim and Dutch students Henk Bintanja and Cornelia Hemker, Sobhraj’s fifth known victim Charmayne Carrou was found having drowned under similar circumstances as Knowlton while wearing a floral bikini. At the time, investigators did not connect the two murders, but Sobhraj was referred to as the Bikini Killer from then on.

The serial killer continued his crime spree for several years following Knowlton’s death and eventually retired to France to live life as a free man after serving 20 years in prison. In September 2003, Sobhraj returned to Nepal, where the warrant for his arrest was still withstanding, and he was arrested. On Aug. 20, 2004, he was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Kathmandu District Court for the murder of Connie Jo Bronzich, and an additional 20 years were added to his sentence in 2014 after Sobhraj was found guilty for the murder of Laurent Carrière. As of December 2020, the Bikini Killer continues to serve his sentence in Kathmandu.

This Is a Robbery: The 4 Main Theories About Who Stole the Paintings at the Gardner Museum

By | April 8, 2021

Netflix’s This Is a Robbery gives us a thrilling and thorough breakdown of the infamous 1990 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art heist in Boston. The weekend of St. Patrick’s Day, two men disguised as police officers broke into the Gardner Museum and stole $500 million worth of artwork, including rare pieces by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Manet, and other legendary artists. 30 years later, the case remains unsolved, and the artwork is still missing. We don’t know about the pieces’ whereabouts, but there have been plausible theories about who stole the art at the Gardner Museum. Read ahead for the leading theories that the true-crime docuseries explores!

Lady Gaga’s Dogs Were Returned Unharmed 2 Days After Dog Walker Shooting and Theft

By | February 27, 2021

Image Source: Getty / Neilson Barnard

On Friday night, Lady Gaga’s dogs were found safe after a pair of thieves stole two of her French bulldogs and shot her dog walker, Ryan Fischer, on Feb. 24. The dogs were recovered unharmed on Feb. 26, Los Angeles police said, according to the Associated Press. Two days after the attack, a woman who appeared to be “uninvolved and unassociated” with the incident brought the dogs to the LAPD’s Olympic Community Police Station.

Earlier today, the singer – who is currently in Italy filming the upcoming Gucci movie – released a statement on social media asking for the safe return of her “beloved dogs Koji and Gustav,” and praising Ryan for his heroic efforts.

“My heart is sick and I am praying my family will be whole again with an act of kindness.”

“My heart is sick and I am praying my family will be whole again with an act of kindness,” Gaga wrote on Instagram. “I will pay $500,000 for their safe return. Email KojiandGustav@gmail.com to contact us. Or, if you bought or found them unknowingly, the reward is the same. I continue to love you Ryan Fischer, you risked your life to fight for our family. You’re forever a hero.”

Gaga’s dad, Joe Germanotta, spoke with the New York Post on Thursday and released a statement of his own, saying, “We’re just sick over it, it’s really horrible. It’s like someone took one of your kids.”

Ryan was walking the singer’s dogs in LA on Wednesday night when he was shot in the chest during the robbery. According to People, he is now in stable condition and is breathing on his own. Ryan is expected to make a full recovery.

Judas and the Black Messiah: Why Fred Hampton’s Fiancée Deborah Changed Her Name

By | February 13, 2021

If you just finished up watching Judas and the Black Messiah, Shaka King’s film about Black Panther chairman Fred Hampton’s assassination by the FBI and the betrayal at the hands of infiltrator William O’Neal, you might be wondering about Hampton’s fiancée Akua Njeri, formerly known as Deborah Johnson. A crucial part of Hampton’s story, Njeri was a mere 19 years old and eight-and-a-half months pregnant with their son when the FBI raided their apartment, tragically shooting and killing Hampton.

She has described her treatment at the hands of police during the traumatizing event, telling the Chicago Reader that “they grabbed [her] by the hair and slung [her] into the kitchen area” as Fred died from the gunshots. Though she was born Deborah Johnson, the activist soon changed her name to Akua Njeri, and continued her legacy as a political activist and writer.

Why did Deborah Johnson change her name to Akua Njeri?

Johnson changed her given name to Akua Njeri, joining several Black Power activists in shedding their “slave names” to overcome racial oppression in the ’60s and ’70s. Legendary boxer Cassius Marcellus Clay famously changed his name to Muhammad Ali in 1964, claiming that the name change was important to free him of psychological bondage related to oppression, and that “Cassius Clay was the name of the white slave master.” Although there are no specific accounts as to why Johnson changed her name to Akua Njeri, it is clear that the shift followed a similar line of thinking. According to the African American Intellectual History Society, shedding the given name of family slave masters could be seen as “a step toward freedom,” and many Black Power activists saw the name change as a liberation in being able to define their own identity.

Njeri could also have been inspired by pre-Black Panther movement icon Malcolm X, a Black nationalist leader, who acknowledged the “anti-Black violence” in his last name. He changed it to simply “X,” representing his rejection of his “slave name” and another step towards power and full self-determination. Many other activists decided to shed their surnames for African, African-inspired, or Arabic ones that they chose themselves in order to get closer to self-definition and break away from past trauma. Redefining themselves through a “New Afrikan” identity was empowering for many, paving the way for people like Johnson to take a name that was fully their choice, and unchain themselves from suppression.