Film review: Halloween 2018

p13864607_p_v8_aa

Horror films are still a major part of film releases and we’ve come a long way in the different types.  Early horror films were iconic characters like Dracula, Frankenstein, and Bea Arthur.  Then we had zombies, exorcists, and then back to iconic characters (Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers and to lesser degrees, Chucky and Pinhead).  Then after Hollywood made those franchises silly beyond recognition, (Jason goes to space?  Michael Myers was part of a druid cult?  Hillary Clinton pulled hot sauce out of her bag to relate to black people?)  we then hit the “found footage” horror types.  The Blair Witch Project started it all and then Paranormal Activities came which then gave birth to the Exorcisms of Haywood Jablowme.  For a hot second, we had the Saw franchise sneak a couple of ok sequels in there after a fantastic opening to the series.  But mostly, we’ve seen reboots fall flat: the aforementioned Jason and Freddy rebirths were lackluster and toothless.  

So when I read they’re doing a sequel to Halloween, I could’ve given 5 cat shits.  But then, the reviews came in from the Toronto film festival that this wasn’t a reboot or sequel in its typical sense.  David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, and Jeff Fradley decided to wisely ignore ALL of the Halloween sequels and pick up 40 years after Michael was captured after being shot by Dr. Loomis.  Jamie Lee Curtis reprises Laurie Strode, who is now a recluse that has a gun arsenal that would’ve made Charlton Heston harder than a shark tooth.  She regularly engages in target practice, has a hidden entrance to her basement, and has an insane home security system.  I’m sure Alex Jones would give this house a 5 star review on Zillow.  Laurie has a daughter whom avoids her like people from Pittsburgh avoid diction lessons.  She also has a granddaughter, Allyson, who keeps in touch with her, unbeknownst to her mom and goofball dad.  Laurie keeps reminding her family that Michael is due to be transferred to a new prison and oh yeah, it’s almost Halloween and the 40 year old anniversary of when Laurie’s friends were killed for fucking or just being clumsy.  

Spoiler alert: Michael escapes during the transfer and starts killing more people in 10  minutes than he did in Halloween 1, 2, and 4.  If this is a spoiler, than you need to go to night school.  Double M racks up kills like he’s trying to break the time record of getting 5 stars in Grand Theft Auto.  This film is insanely different versus others where you think some characters have a chance to live.  Nope.  He leaves corpses everywhere like the first 10 minutes of Saving Private Ryan on the D Day Beach scene.

Let’s take a brief timeout to discuss a few gems: John Carpenter never signed off on any of the sequels.  He saw this script and IMMEDIATELY wanted to be attached.  He also signed on to do the music again and the music is as masterfully scored as the first one.  Obviously, you hear a lot of the same arrangements but with cool twists.  And like the master scorers do: Williams, Zimmer, Elfman, etc, the music intensifies the mood and puckers up all the buttholes in the audience.  Back to the story. 

So of course, MM comes back to Haddonfield and lays waste to those good town folk, in search of Laurie Strode and her offspring.  I mean, wouldn’t you move FAR away from a town your mom get sliced up in?  It’s not like they live somewhere cool like Manhattan where you weight the pros and cons of a stalker possibly returning.  You live in a suburban town, ANY of them around the country can suit you just fine.  Why stick it out in Nowheresville where there’s the chance that lunatic could escape and easily track you down because of your laziness?  

Here’s why this film works and other serious reboots like the Batman trilogy, Star Trek reboots, or Dredd worked: Because they took it seriously and made it DARK.  No campy horseshit, no cheap gimmicks like the lack of cell phone reception.  There are a few laughs, some land and some don’t.  But man, these film knows how to build tension and hold it.  There are plenty of visual and musical nods to the original film.  And what really works is you really believe Michael is truly an evil spirit with ZERO human emotion.  Throughout the film, the characters BEG him to say “something.”  The reactions are priceless.  And you truly buy into Michael being a badass by just murdering ANYONE in the way but not for the sake of gore but for the sake of letting nothing stop him in killing Laurie Strode.  

This is EASILY one of the best horror film sequels ever made.  But honestly, besides the original Halloween 2 (It’s fine), Nightmare on Elm Street 3 (love it), or Friday the 13th 2 or 3 (Meh) Dawn of the Dead (maybe), this isn’t stiff competition.  Some will say that Silence of the Lambs (yes, that’s a sequel) or Aliens fall under horror.  I would call them thrillers, not horror.  This film is AWESOME, I dare you not to love it.  You’ll get sucked right in for the 105 minutes and already make plans to see it again.  But in the daytime when not many people will be in the theater.  Because most people chew loudly and make unwarranted, dumb remarks to their friend instead of shutting up for 2 hours.

I give it an 8/10

Advertisements

Film Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

images

There are some franchises that motor on because of the success and quality of those films.  See: 90% of Star Wars films, Rocky 1-4 as well as Balboa and Creed, Indiana Jones Trilogy,  (I don’t acknowledge the 4th like no one recognizes the third Godfather), 75% of the James Bond films, and most of the Star Trek films/reboots.  And there are some franchises that people feel obligated to stay with no matter how mediocre or films have become and they still make boku bucks, hence another sequel every 3 years.  See: Fast and the Furious, Saw, Transformers, and Pirates of the Caribbean.   What do some of these franchises have in common?  The first one is fantastic.  The second and third ones, meh.  By 4, you barely keep up with them and skip over them when they pop up on cable (I know, I just made myself look old by still having cable).  Sometimes, they manage to surprise the hell out of you by hiring new writers/director for the 4th or 5th and reinvigorate the franchise.  Fast and the Furious 5 is a perfect example, it brought me back in because it was excellent.  And then I sat through the next 2 oversized turds.  Guess what?  Now you’re hooked for at least 2 or 3 more films. And bang, you’re just like a vegan who came to their senses and started eating meat again.  

Let’s review Jurassic Park.  The first one, very solid but the book ending was MUCH better than the film ending but 8-9 times out of 10, that’s the case.  JP2, not great except the scene where the dino hunters ran through the field of velociraptors and most of them ended up looking like Jenna Jamison’s b-hole when she retired from porn.  JP3 was even worse, not even the pterodactyl scene saved this monstrosity.  And next thing you know, the franchise was shelved.  

But as Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum’s character in 2 and 1/10 films) says, “Life, ahhh finds a way.”  As does Steven Spielberg to jump start a dead franchise.  3 years ago, Jurassic World came out and ran roughshod through the box office like a T-Rex that just ate a Mexican village and is now looking for a bathroom.  What does that mean?  Fire up the sequel machine!!  JW recaptured the elements from JP and did it well with a bunch of cool nods to the first one.  It worked, even though it was just a blatant reboot of the first one.  But I dug it.  

Of all the previews I saw of FK, not one of them made me go, “Hmm, I’m looking forward to playing hooky from work to see this.”  But since I’m an (unpaid) film reviewer, I felt it was my civic responsibility to see this and comment.  FK starts off with the dino island in deep stegosaurus poop; a volcano is exploding and the dinos face extinction, sigh, again.  And of course, screenwriters Colin Trevorow and Derek Conolly, decide to make this one of the few social issues of the film.  Do dino lives matter?  According to Claire (one of the few attractive gingers, Bryce Dallas Howard), they certainly do.  She gets little resistance from persuading Owen (newly single Chris Pratt and who will be bedding GOTG nerds and film extras galore) to come with her to help save the dinos.  Financing the journey is Benjamin Lockwood (Jamie Cromwell) who apparently used to be partners with JP creator, John Hammond, until Hammond had the idea to make an amusement park with dinosaurs.  Standing in the way is Lockwood’s assistant, Mills, who has plans of his own for the Cretaceous creatures.

Here are several problems with this film:  

  1. What do people want to see?  Dinosaurs killing humans in cool ways with a little bit of gore. Yes, I know that a ton of little kids go see this but it’s rated PG-13 which allows them to get away with more.  When people get killed, it’s almost sanitary and really doesn’t scare you nor feel “real.”  
  2. This film DRAAAAGS.  The last 20-30 minutes should’ve been trimmed down, especially the scene you see in commercials where the dinosaur gets into the little girl’s bedroom.  The running time is just over 2 hours but it felt as long as the math section did of the SATs.  
  3. The plot fell into the same formulaic trap as some of the sequels did.  You know who’s dying within 10 seconds of the introduction of characters.  Asshole money- hungry assistant?  Surprise, he dies.  Overly aggressive and mean head of security?  Auf Weiderzehen.  Soldier who hits a woman?  Appetizer for T-Rex.  Just once, let’s see one or 2 of the good guys get picked off and not everyone making it home in time for dinner.  Let’s have the computer nerd get picked off.  Or the cute little girl.  
  4. Do we need a bunch of social issues in a popcorn blockbuster film?  I don’t think so. Do dino lives matter?  Should we let them acclimate into our world?  Is cloning humans acceptable?  And the last reveal was just plain lazy which ties into the ending.  
  5. You see 75% of Jeff Goldblum in the previews which obviously means he’s critically underutilized.  That character was great in the first and second films.  Maybe he didn’t want to do a full role but man, spread his scenes throughout the film.  
  6. JW hatched (I’m a cutup, I know) a hybrid dinosaur to mix things up.  So if it ain’t broke, Universal ain’t fixing it.  Yes, there’s another hybrid dinosaur and I immediately thought, “Ok, back to the well with this idea.”  20 bucks said the next sequel has TWO hybrids and one of them will involve a pterodactyl that looks like Kathy Griffin.  

I found myself over halfway through the film not really caring what happens next.  I honestly got bored through the final encounter.  I’m surprised I’m seeing more positive reviews than negative reviews for this one.  The poster should’ve had Spielberg, BDH, and Pratt holding bags with the $ sign while riding on the back of a Brontosaurus.  Because that’s exactly what this was, a vicious cash grab.  This film opened 60 million less than JW did.  But of course, it will be profitable and they’ll make another one.  Good luck getting me to invest me any more time in this franchise, I’m out.

I give it a 4/10.