Paul Mescal’s Hot Streak Is Broken by the Dull, Drab ‘Foe’

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty/Amazon
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty/Amazon

Not sure what to watch next? Subscribe to The Daily Beast’s Obsessed See Skip newsletter here and get the latest show and movie recommendations every Tuesday.

There are roughly 47,000—oh, wait, a new Netflix Original just dropped; make that 47,001—TV shows and movies coming out each week. At Obsessed, we consider it our social duty to help you see the best and skip the rest.

We’ve already got a variety of in-depth, exclusive coverage on all of your streaming favorites and new releases, but sometimes what you’re looking for is a simple Do or Don’t. That’s why we created See/Skip, to tell you exactly what our writers think you should See and what you can Skip from the past week’s crowded entertainment landscape.

See: Saw X

Saw X is the gruesome horror franchise’s best entry since its first installment, finding unique (and increasingly bloody) ways to dive deep into the series’ lore, while bringing back beloved characters, intricate traps, and a surprisingly effective allegory—really!

Jigsaw in Saw X.

Jigsaw in Saw X.

Alexandro Bolaños Escamilla/Lionsgate

Here’s Coleman Spilde’s take:

“But though the franchise shares some qualities with other gruesome gorefests, it never quite deserved to be denigrated in that company. Saw always paired its gratuitous gore with legitimate questions about humanity, teeing up moral quandaries that made the films something more than just blood and guts. (Whether the franchise was always successful in executing that is another story entirely.) That virtuous undertone, combined with traps of increasingly delightful absurdity, earned the Saw films a massive cult following across its first nine installments.

After several false endings and a franchise “reboot” of sorts, the tenth film in the series, Saw X, arrives in theaters Sept. 29, bringing with it a whole new host of traps, victims, and ethical queries. With a noticeably increased production value, plus the exhilarating return of the fan-favorite characters, Saw X was already destined to please Saw’s most devoted supporters (Saw-pporters, if you will). But by cleverly setting its timeline between the series’ first two installments, Saw X is both an invigorating thrill ride on par with the franchise’s best entries and a trenchant, timely charge against industrial systems set in place to keep humans sick.”

Read more.

Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal star in Foe.

Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal.

Amazon Studios

Skip: Foe

Foe caps Paul Mescal’s fantastic last 12 months on a sour note, delivering an intriguing but predictable sci-fi melodrama. There is, however, something to be said for his chemistry with co-lead Saoirse Ronan, which feels akin to old Hollywood alchemy.

Here’s Nick Schager’s take:

Paul Mescal’s past 12 months have been scorching thanks to Aftersun and Carmen, but Foe—his second feature at this year’s New York Film Festival, alongside All of Us Strangers—puts an end to that hot streak. That’s no fault of the actor, who delivers a romantically tormented performance that recalls Cat on a Hot Tin Roof-era Paul Newman, and who shares a sweltering chemistry with his co-star Saoirse Ronan. Rather, the culprit is a sci-fi story that spirals about in circles on its way to a predictable and underwhelming twist and an even less satisfying conclusion.

Written by director Garth Davis and Iain Reid, based on the latter’s 2018 novel of the same name, Foe (in theaters Oct. 6) is set on a 2065 Earth that’s been ravaged by droughts, famines, and weather-related calamities. Radio broadcasts provide the apocalyptic details in short, expository bursts, suggesting that Henrietta (Ronan) and Junior (Mescal) are living through the End Times. Residing on a Midwest farm that’s been in Junior’s family for generations, they’re a married couple at the edge of the world, as well as one whose rapport is as prickly as the dry, barren trees that dot the landscape. Theirs is a love among—and of—the ruins, and Henrietta’s despair is the first note struck by Davis’ film, as she showers and stares at herself in a three-paneled mirror while, in narration, she muses that she’s lost a part of herself and fears never being able to reclaim it.”

Read more.

Recruits march in Special Forces: World's Toughest Test.

Recruits in Special Forces: World's Toughest Test.

Pete Dadds/FOX

See: Special Forces Season 2

Special Forces Season 2 sees more celebrities putting their dignity on the line in strenuous military exercises for our entertainment, and it is oh-so-much fun—especially when disgraced Tom Sandoval and the plucky Jojo Siwa show up.

Here’s Kyndall Cunningham’s take:

“To loosely borrow a phrase from Nicole Kidman, we come to reality TV to watch human beings suffer. Yes, it’s nice to see your favorite Real Housewife or Love Is Blind contestant enjoy some wins from time to time. But we mostly watch these shows to see amusing people deal with tough situations in the funniest and often worst ways possible, usually as a way to reflect on and metabolize our own struggles.

That seems to explain the success of Fox’s latest competition hit Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test, where reality stars, actors, athletes and people like Blac Chyna train under a group of intimidating (but unintentionally comical) former operatives and grueling weather conditions, while learning some valuable life lessons along the way. If you’re someone like Tom Sandoval, you’re seemingly on the show to rehabilitate your image—and maybe spite your ex who’s earned a more coveted, less stressful slot on Dancing With The Stars at the same time.”

Read more.

Vampire and Mizrak in Castlevania: Nocturne.

Vampire and Mizrak in Castlevania: Nocturne.


See: Castlevania: Nocturne

Castlevania: Nocturne is the ideal choice for anyone who has ever felt frustrated by the vampiric nature of the upper class. Netflix’s second adaptation of the classic video games provides flashy thrills and enough emotional nuance for some real bite.

Here’s Kambole Campbell’s take:

“In Castlevania: Nocturne, Netflix’s latest animated adaptation of the Konami video games, imperialism is the biggest vampire of all: predatory, parasitic, violent, and frustratingly long-lived. An obvious metaphor, perhaps, but to its credit, it’s never said aloud— and it makes for an enthralling change from the previous series, with some added real-world bite. It’s an ambitious, if sometimes unwieldy new start.

With the story set amidst various revolutions—American, French, Haitian—Castlevania: Nocturne’s international cast of characters each experiences oppression under imperialist rule, with showrunners Clive Bradley and Kevin Kolde, directors Samuel and Adam Deats, and their writing team using (most of) their vampires as symbolic of the nature of colonizers and aristocrats. (Netflix’s first Castlevania series creator, Warren Ellis, is out, following a series of allegations of sexual coercion.) But it’s not as ponderous as that might sound; Nocturne still carries the base appeal of vampire fiction, its fanged villains as seductive as they are monstrous.”

Read more.

Sign up for our See Skip newsletter here to find out which new shows and movies are worth watching, and which aren’t.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.