Halloween (2018) Movie Review

4.5/10

Entertaining one minute, then mediocre for the next fifteen. Halloween succeeds in making its villain feel menacing and even throws in clever callbacks for fans of the original. It’s everything between the moments of good that bring it down.

Set 40 years after the events of the first film, Halloween once again reunites Jamie Lee Curtis with her favourite babysitter Michael Myers. During that time Myers has been in prison, with Curtis praying every night that he will escape so she can kill him once and for all. Looks like she’s been reading the book “The Secret”.

Let’s start with the positives.

Halloween (for the most part) does a good job of making Michael Myers a menacing villain. The film sets him up a villain that just kills and moves on to the next victim. There’s no emotion or motive and that matches what the film wants him to be: the epitome of evil.

There are also clever callbacks for fans of the original to enjoy. It was fun to watch the theatre notice the lines of dialogue and role reversals that referred to the first film. They were subtle and still effective for those who haven’t seen the original.

And finally, there’s one African-American child actor that in my eyes stole the show. Most of his scenes were improvised and were genuinely hilarious. I don’t want to spoil his lines of dialogue or the circumstances of those scenes. Suffice to say these were the most entertaining out of the whole movie for me.

Everything else is a inconsistent and confusing shit show.

Halloween sets the tone with Michael Myers’ first kill but then later contradicts itself by not following through with a certain encounter (you’ll know what I mean if you see the movie). There was a chance to truly live up to this epitome of evil image, but Halloween chooses to back down because its afraid to take the risk. In my opinion the producers should either remove that scene or make good on their promise.

The film also has a lot of awkward and unfunny character interactions. The film tries to give quirky comedic moments between minor characters but fails more often than it succeeds. A scene with two cops talking about what they packed for dinner is the pinnacle of this. Throughout their entire conversation I was thinking “why the hell is this in the movie? It’s not funny”.

Even more confusing is how Myers’s age in the film fits with his killing spree. I don’t know how a 70-year man can get shot, hit by a car, beaten by a crowbar, punched, survive a bus crash, and still manage to kill ten plus people during that time. It was hilarious.

Maybe Halloween would be more entertaining if only I threw out any logic and didn’t take it so seriously. But that’s the problem; I don’t know what it wants to be.

On one hand it tries to feel serious by making Michael Myers a menacing and ruthless killing machine. On the other hand, it throws in awkward moments of comedy and confusing plot ideas. The result of which makes me feel less impressed and wanting.

But hey, what else was I expecting from a movie that’s the eleventh instalment and second reboot sequel to a cash cow series that’s all over the place with sequels and reboots.

Halloween Movie Recommendations: Part 1 (2018 Edition)

Here’s a quick overview of horror films we recommend for this Halloween (more films in upcoming parts).

Martyrs (2008)

7.5/10

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Gruesome and truly horrifying.

Martyrs is a French psychological horror film that tells the revenge story of Lucie and Anna, two victims of brutal child abuse. Fifteen years after Lucie escaped from an icy torture chamber, she and Anna track down their former captors to exact their revenge. Their search uncovers a secret organization but Lucie and Anna quickly realise that they’re yet to experience the true face of evil.

This is the most brutal horror film I’ve seen and that’s also the main aspect that makes it so engrossing. It’s meant to be dark, bleak and horrifying, and that’s why I love it. For fans looking to expand their horror film library and for those seeking out sheer dread and scare, then this is the film for you.

Audition (1999)

8/10

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A slow burn horror with one of the best payoffs.

Audition is a disturbing Japanese thriller that follows Aoyama, a recent widower who decides to pickup dating again. With the help of his film producer, Aoyama holds auditions for a fake dating production that secretly introduces him to attractive and single women. From these mock castings Aoyama meets the gorgeous but reserved Asami and their relationship begins to develop. However, Asami isn’t what she appears to be, and Aoyama eventually finds himself faced with a horror that he’s never known before.

While Audition is a film that gradually increases the tension ever so slowly, ultimately it leads to a harrowing climax that makes the whole wait worth it. This is a film that purposefully takes it’s time because it knows how great the payoff at the end will be. If you’re after something with more pace than Audition won’t be the film for you. But if you’re looking for a masterpiece in horror suspense, you’ve come to the right place.

Pandorum (2009)

6.5/10

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Dead Space meets Resident Evil meets The Descent.

Pandorum is a sci-fi horror that plays out like a lucid dream reminiscent of films like Memento and The Matrix. Astronauts Payton and Bower awake from hypersleep with no memory of who they are or what their mission was. Payton stays behind to monitor the radio while Bower explores the seemingly abandoned spaceship. The astronauts quickly realise that they are not alone, and the fate of mankind will hinge on what they do next.

While it’s nowhere near being a horror classic, Pandorum is very much so underrated and often overlooked. The story is fast-paced with several action scenes that make it an exciting to watch. The film does borrow elements from other films, but I feel like it combines the best from those classics into something that still makes Pandorum feel original. If you loved any of those previously mentioned film influences and are into sci-fi gore horror, then give this one a watch.

Hereditary Movie Review

hereditarySee it. 6/10.

Hereditary is the first feature film from director Ari Aster and follows a grieving family after their grandmother passes away. Strange events begin to occur shortly after, bringing more grief and paranoia to the family, and leading the mother, Annie, to believe that the grandmother may have been dabbling in devil worship prior to her death.

The film has been touted as the scariest film of the year so far, and while there were some shocking twists (admittedly there was a huge twist that took me completely by surprise), overall it didn’t have a lasting effect on me. This isn’t to say there weren’t some uncomfortable moments. Annie’s career as a miniaturist sculpture definitely brought some creepiness as she recounted some of the more disturbing moments of her life, capturing them like a photograph in her sculpture creations. Plus there are some great moments played out without the reliance of the cheap jump scares but still took me by surprise.

What was interesting, however, was that as the story slowly revealed itself, different foreshadowing elements were presented in a seemingly scattered pattern but worked well to set up scenes later on. By the end, I found myself thinking “oh yeah, remember that person and what she said before?” and “now that makes sense”, which was an aspect I definitely enjoyed realizing on my way out of the cinemas. It was a sign that although the film was predominantly a slow burn type and took its time, at least it did so with some purpose and intelligent thought behind what was being shown so that it wasn’t just frivolously all put together.

And whilst this film is classified as a horror, it feels more like a character drama and a breakdown of the family. As Annie starts to lose her grip on reality, the hallucinations she projects onto her son also grow more and more disturbing. By doing so it takes the focus away from the horror elements and places it in more of a dramatic position that you soon find yourself sympathizing with his growing paranoia that she’s trying to kill him. Depending on what you’re expecting this might not be what you want but for me, I didn’t mind this change because at least the film tried to put a lot more character into a horror film. Which is usually neglected in such a genre, as the focus often turns to the horrific spectacle of events and characters become expandable figures on the chopping line.

There are also moments of technical brilliance, especially through audio, where the noise of a particular action is heightened to such an extent, often as foreshadowing, that you hold your breath waiting for the action to take a grisly turn. The use of tilts and pans to move to the different scenes was also a unique technique, especially compared to the use of fade to blacks that are often utilized. And there are also some very nice scene transitions that showed a lot of effort was put into making them seamlessly progress through. Clearly, those behind the camera worked hard to help achieve Ari Aster’s vision and it’s great to see horror filmmaking like this being technically and smartly well-made.

Toni Collette plays the role of Annie to perfection, capturing the desperation of a woman who hasn’t had an easy life, and is very aware of her mounting insanity but also convinced that there is something more going on. Toni Collette’s ability to portray wide-eyed fear and then in a heartbeat become angry and hate-filled makes her the standout of the film. Comparably Alex Wolff, who plays her cowardly son Peter, is slightly over the top in some scenes, especially when he’s crying. In saying that, his portrayal of a person in shock in the big twist scene was very well done, capturing not only the terror of the moment but the confusion that takes place following the event.

The downfall of the film, for me, lies in the source of the horror. Admittedly, horror films tend to be divisive as it very much depends on the individual and what gets under their skin. For me, demon worship and occult just doesn’t do it for me and felt a bit of a cheap and lazy way to bring this film together. A lot of the horror moments throughout the film mostly occurred in Annie and her son, Peter’s, mind. To then put this all down to demon worship didn’t seem true to the story being told and was kind of a letdown. The last 15 minutes of the film also completely killed it for me, as it took a turn from being on the edge of insanity straight into being utterly ridiculous and laughable.

I’m recommending that you see it, but hesitantly. There are some uniquely interesting technical aspects as mentioned above that are worth watching it for but overall, the story still feels weak and the ending destroyed any good components that came before it. Hereditary had the opportunity to make an intelligent horror film that had a lasting effect, but instead was let down by the narrative in the last act.

The Final Girls Movie Review

the final girls

See it. 6/10

“They were never alive! They weren’t real. Neither are you because this is just a movie!”

It seems that the only way to make a decent horror film these days is to have the story lampoon the common tropes of others like it. The Final Girls unashamedly parodies classic slasher film clichés and uses them for comedic effect, which thankfully does enough to make this worth the watch. This self-aware nature is not as intelligent as another similar film, The Cabin In The Woods (which is also a film that I love) so don’t walk into this with high expectations, but there is enough ridiculousness and meta-humor that still warrants seeing The Final Girls. Especially if you’re a fan of horror in general and love when it can be fused with the likes of comedy akin to the film Tucker and Dale vs Evil.

What works for The Final Girls is the story and its outlandish portrayal of horror stereotypes seen in each of the characters. Every figure is written as a caricature of the typical individuals that you’d come across in any basic slasher horror film, whether it be the dumb jock or the virgin or those that are sexually proactive; The Final Girls represents all commonly used facets of horror filmmaking but does so to lampoon their stereotypes. There are often moments of humor based on the expense of character motivations that worked well to make me smile and overall, I enjoyed the meta-like nature of the script.

The only semi-original aspect that makes it refreshing enough is the idea of having characters being sucked up into a B-grade horror film and interacting with the characters from that said film. The story then takes on the life of the B-grade horror film and utilizes all the common tropes attaches to it. I didn’t mind that it becomes unoriginal because The Final Girls is all about subverting the unoriginal clichés of horror films for comedic effect. The film might encompass super cheesy moments or poorly written plot holes but those aren’t flaws I can criticize negatively because it’s intentionally being parodied. The only unoriginal trait about The Final Girls is that it chooses to lampoon those clichés when films like The Cabin In The Woods or Tucker and Dale vs Evil have done it in the past already.

I also have some issues with the film technically. There were times when the story wasn’t necessarily trying to lampoon those clichés just yet and that I thought these scenes could have been done in a way that didn’t really need to rely on B-grade jump scares. It seems like a wasted opportunity to employ some innovative horror filmmaking techniques like the use of sound or a slow pan to reveal something sinister and it could make me feel scared.

Altogether I can’t fault the films unoriginal story even though there are a lot of cheesy cliches thrown in. This film is attempting to parody slasher films and for the most part, I say it does so well enough. I wasn’t laughing hysterically and it’s nowhere near the genius of a parody film like Black Dynamite but it’s nevertheless passable. There’s enough to warrant seeing this film, especially if you’re at all interested in seeing horror but don’t go into it with exceedingly high hopes. The Final Girls isn’t a modern horror masterpiece but it’s still worth a recommendation. See it.

A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010) Movie Review

a nightmare on elm street 2010

Skip it. 3.5/10

The end has come. Thank God.

Arriving at the final chapter of the A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise, I can’t help but reflect on the bumper journey that it has taken me on. And with the last film in the series, a reboot of the original, I can safely say that this rollercoaster has finally come to a very slow halt. It’s been fun Freddy, but your send-off doesn’t produce any new impressions on a mind that’s seen about everything that there is to you.

Just like any film reboot, I was quite wary going into this 2010 “reimagining” of the classic that started it all. Reboots are essentially made, not to stir up any new notions in the mythology of a successful franchise nor to create a wonderful continuation of the series, but to make as much money as possible. With this reboot, in particular, I am quite sure they intended to do just that. In fact, a quick Wikipedia search shows $115 million was made at the Box Office against a $35 million dollar budget, which confirms my suspicions that they’ve done so stupendously. Oh, how things never change.

A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010) is less of a film as it is more of an updated re-hash of the original. For new audiences who have never been exposed to the series, this no doubt would have been a far better experience. But for fans who have seen the rest of the films like I have, it was far from great. The story is the same. The characters are virtually identical. The only difference here is that everything just looks nicer.

Which is an aspect that I’ll give this film credit for because it’s definitely one of the strongest features it has going for it. The same goes for the change to the character design for Freddy Krueger. I appreciated the adjustment made to make it reflect more what a real-life burns victim would look like. I didn’t really think it was as scary as the original, plus I thought it looked more like a ghoul at times rather than an actual person but hey, the effort was still there and I don’t mind it. Other than that, everything else they did wasn’t really that new. Especially the scares.

I enjoyed some of the more gorier updates but for the most part, everything was just so terribly unimaginative. None of the dream scenarios showed any creativity whatsoever, which is surprising given they had more than enough of a budget to do so. It seems like they stopped short of funding interesting nightmarish aspects and instead stuck to putting out simple alternative versions of what could be seen in reality. What the fuck New Line Cinema? Who the hell dropped the ball on this?

Do the nightmares really have to take place in the same setting that the person dreaming it up fell asleep in? And when we do see something different, can’t we go somewhere else more original instead of the same old fucking boiler room? Even every other sequel managed to do at least that and they weren’t that great either.

The only other positive I want to bring up is the casting choice of Rooney Mara as the lead Nancy. I love her as an actress and I’m glad they found her to play that role, even if most of her dialogue was still horrendous and just plain old garbage. She managed to add another element to Nancy as the “loneliest girl in the world” persona and at least it was actually something different to see, which I wasn’t sure this film could even do on a character level.

This film pretty much fits the role of being a shitty reboot created to generate cash, and which it did. It was a let down to how the journey concluded for me but from the last few films, I felt like I knew what was coming so I don’t feel too underwhelmed or disappointed. I’ve already forgotten most of this film, so it’s safe to say that I’ll never be watching this one again. Which means I’m going to be recommending you give this film the flick unless you really feel compelled to complete the series just like I’ve been doing. But other than that, skip it.