Halloween Kills

Much like this year’s Candyman I went into Halloween Kills very excited and poised to enjoy myself.

Sadly, much like Candyman, I didn’t enjoy this film. Gone is the interesting plot brought on in the 2018 sequel to the original Halloween with Jamie Lee Curtis’ character of Laurie Strode now a doomsday prepper suffering PTSD, and instead we get a typical horror sequel: up the body count, have the characters make infuriatingly stupid decisions, and gloss over any explanations that might prove detrimental to the already limited scope of the plot.

As shown in the previews for the film, Michael Myers survives the house fire where he was left in the previous installment by attacking the fire fighters who show up. While many of the fire fighters try to fight back and are armed with axes and power saws and other such paraphernalia, apparently their will to survive is overridden by their inability to attack the serial killer in any way other than one-on-one. After dispatching the fire crew Michael makes his way once more across the town of Haddonfield killing everyone in his path in gruesome ways. The locals — including a handful of actors from the original 1978 film reprising their characters — decide their mantra for the evening is “Evil dies tonight,” a phrase that gets repeated frequently, as mob mentality takes over and the residents try to hunt the hunter. Do they succeed? Well, there is another sequel already in the works…

With the 2018 flick and this continuation taking place over the same October night (mostly), I don’t think the Haddonfield morgue can handle this many bodies. Likewise, the police in town seem to be oblivious when someone is being murdered just a short distance away, and can’t be bothered to secure a crime scene. Get introduced to a character we haven’t seen before? Forget it, you can bet death is certain for them. Returning characters who showed some intelligence in the previous film are now reduced to horror movie cliches. Previous heroine Laurie Strode spends the bulk of the movie spouting monologues in a hospital room (she is recovering from surgery to repair the damage Michael did to her). In her place we get her daughter and granddaughter being ludicrously inept members of the aforementioned mob, despite their previous actions.

Overall, this movie was just a disappointment, particularly after the promising 2018 film.

The next installment is reportedly titled Halloween Ends, but I suspect if it and Halloween Kills make their own killings at the box office, Michael Myers will keep on being greenlit to do his.

Dead Dicks & Candyman

Candyman (2021)

A new take on the classic Clive Barker tale, our new entry in the series takes the titular character’s origin story and changes it up a little. We get told a tale of an artist, Anthony, now living in the gentrified Cabrini Green neighborhood of Chicago, who finds out about the legend of the Candyman. In life, a kindly Black man who would hand out candy to children. When a child dies due to a razor blade found in some candy, authorities wrongly point the finger and ultimately kill the poor man in a shocking case of police brutality. Now anyone who says “Candyman” five times in a mirror will come face-to-face with him and suffer his wrath. Anthony decides to use this legend in his latest artistic endeavor. As he delves deeper into the story he realizes it didn’t actually start with the more recent tale, but goes back well over a century (thus tying this into the original story of how Candyman came to be). As our story progresses, violence surges around Anthony, and he becomes the primary suspect for the grisly murders the Candyman commits.

I wanted to like this movie. Ultimately I found it a little boring. It was co-written by Jordan Peele (along with Win Rosenfeld and director Nia DaCosta), but doesn’t seem to carry the same quality as his two previous horror hits, “Get Out” and “Us.” It is an often slow slog through too many different characters and their takes on the various social issues the movie is trying to be sympathetic to, but often just comes off as a bit too heavy handed. While the film has some intriguing ideas in its story, good performances from its cast, and interesting visuals, I feel in this case they didn’t add up to a good movie.

Dead Dicks

Despite what the title might lead you to believe, this 2019 film concerns Richie and his sister Becca. While both are adults and living on their own, Becca often has to intervene in Richie’s life as he suffers from various bouts with mental illness. Preparing to go off to graduate school, and having yet told her brother she is leaving town, Becca receives a series of concerning text messages from him. She rushes to his apartment in the middle of the night to find his body hanging in a closet. Distraught and shocked, she turns around to find Richie standing before her, alive and well. Richie explains that he has, in fact, killed himself, but he came back through this bizarre, fleshy, vaginal growth that has appeared on his bedroom wall; effectively being born again.

What follows is at times touching and funny, at times shocking and disturbing. The performances are great by Heston Horwin and Jillian Harris, Richie and Becca respectively, as they try to figure out what is going on and over the course of the night resurface old family drama. Richie unsure of his place in the world while sister Becca wonders what more she could have if she didn’t tend to Richie. It isn’t often you get such an amalgamation of family drama and horror in the same story, but the movie pulls it off fairly deftly. While not streaming for free, it is available through most streaming services for rental or purchase, and is on Blu-Ray in the USA and Canada. Definitely worth watching.

Movie Reviews, June 5, 2021

So hey, fully vaccinated I actually felt comfortable going to a movie theatre again.

Cruella

Disney’s latest cartoon to live action feature takes on villain Cruella DeVil from ‘101 Dalmatians.’ You know the one: loves fur, wants to make a spotted coat out of puppies. The film begins with the childhood years of Estella and her two-tone hair that leads to bullying in her English boarding school. Estella wants nothing more than to challenge the status quo and become a fashion designer. Much like their previous effort in ‘Maleficent,’ Disney presents a lot of back story on just why Estella takes on the moniker Cruella and becomes such a villain — only, in this version, she doesn’t. Yes, she pulls some illegal and immoral stunts over the course of the film, but at the end of the day she is not the character from ‘101 Dalmatians.’ This incarnation of Cruella is out to right past wrongs against her family, and become a smash hit in the London fashion scene at the same time. Regardless, it was an enjoyable romp filled with action, adventure…and some occasional, terrible CGI work. Worth watching to see the two Emmas in the cast (Emma Stone and Emma Thompson) chew up the scenery in the best ways possible.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

Let me get this out of the way right off the bat: the movies in the ‘Conjuring’ universe have strayed so far from the original stories they are claiming to be based upon, that it is downright ridiculous. Purporting to chronicle the ‘true stories’ of self-proclaimed paranormal experts Ed and Lorraine Warren, none of these films has ever been able to resist the urge to amp up the horror elements and introduce characters and scenes that even the Warrens never claimed to have happened. And this far into the series (counting the Annabelle and Nun spin off movies), boy did this one go over the top. This time around the Warrens are assisting in the exorcism of a young boy. During said exorcism, one of the people present, Arne Johnson, belittles the demon for picking on a child and invites it to take him instead. The demon obliges. Mr. Johnson, over the next several days, has horrifying visions, doesn’t feel like himself, and ultimately murders his landlord. His lawyer then, with the assistance of the Warrens, makes the claim in court of not guilty due to demonic possession. And that’s where the similarities to the ‘true story’ end. From here on out we have a story about demons, devil worshippers, priests having secret children, weird ritualistic totems, curses being placed on people…I’m so over it. Whether or not you believe the Warrens’ stories about their cases, whether or not you believe the real Mr. Johnson was possessed by demons when he committed his crime, it doesn’t matter. This movie just wasn’t very good and was all over the place. If this trend of escalating the situations continues in this series of films, the next installment will have the Warrens travelling to Mars to assist space marines in battling demons that came through a portal experiment.