Review / Slenderman ★☆☆☆☆

Joey King

Seeing as it’s Halloween, it’s only appropriate to look back upon one of the slew of horror movies that have come out this year, but one in particular stood out, and it was so shambolic, it’s pretty much nailed on for one of the worst films of 2018!

Slenderman was all over the internet 4-5 years ago, the myth, the memes, the buzz, about our suited up stalker in the wood was at its peak, and of course there would be a movie cash in for it.  It’s now 2018, and the chance to capitalize on this trend has long gone, and unfortunately, it’s a horrendous effort that really should have been buried away in the archive room.

A group of teenage girls decide to summon our friend from the occult after hearing the rumors going around school. After one of the group suddenly goes missing, the friends realize maybe it wasn’t a prank after all.

The main issue with Slenderman was that it was coming off the Slenderman murder case which took place in the States back in 2014. With the film being released as that case was coming to a close, meant the studio was in an awkward situation.  What ended up happening is that vast chucks of the movie were removed. The trailers for this film are far more sinister and dark, compared to the toned down mess they ended up releasing, with key scenes missing, the film simply jumps all over the place, and they don’t even bother filming even the smallest of scenes to explain the jumps. You can see in the video below just how much of the film is removed.

Our main protagonist, Hallie, is totally unlikable, even while her friends start to go missing, she is far more interested in hooking up with her crush and making sure she looks cool.  Wren, her best mate, who ends up being driven mad, does her best to at least solve things at least, but Hallie, just yells at her to move on, ignorant to the ominous threat that her close friends are suddenly dying. While another character shows signs of being stalked/possessed, and everything builds up to a particular scene at school, but nope, nothing happens, and you never see her again. From the trailers you can see there was supposed to be a moment of dread here, but its cut, and the character is never addressed again! The scares are awfully weak too, if your neighbor was checking to see if you are safe, why would they be moving around the house in a creepy murderer like fashion? For drama?

It seems like the studio only had permission to film in the woods nearby, so the film spends a large chuck in the forest. School, forest, home, forest, school, forest. It’s almost comical how often they always end up back in the woods for some other reason. Slenderman himself is ok, but once he reveals himself totally, he loses all sense of dread, and is a CGI mess by the end.. He is far more sinister as a character when he is hovering in the background, looming. The movie also thinks showing clips of the clouds in the woods is scary, and constantly uses it as a transition between scenes!

All in all, there really isn’t anything good to say about this movie, but it’s worth a watch if you really want a scare on Halloween!!

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Review / Halloween ★★★☆☆

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It’s not been the smoothest of rides for the Halloween franchise, the 1978 classic is still one of the greatest slasher films, and was the foundation of several other movie universes such as Friday the 13th. Since then, the film has spawned over 10 different sequels, the majority of which have been critically panned.  Halloween (2018) attempts to retcon all the complications from prior films, and plans to deliver a far cleaner, direct sequel to the original. Can it be 11th time lucky?

The story picks up 40 years on from the horrific murders committed by the psychotic Michael Meyers (Nick Castle) , Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), a survivor from his original massacre, still awaits the day she can take her revenge on the monster. It seems she may get her chance sooner rather than later.

This time around, it’s not just herself who is dragged into another night of terror, as her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), along with her family, also end up with targets on their backs. After 4 decades of fear, anger and mourning, can Laurie finally put her tribulations to rest?

Compared to the various underwhelming films that were pretty much a cheap cash grab, Halloween, is very much a return to form. Bringing back a much needed freshness to a series that had long become stale. The ongoing duel between our two leads is what really makes the film tick. The dynamic between out two characters is clear to see, and the fact both roles are taken up by the original cast members from 40 years ago helps a lot.  Laurie is seen as the only one who understands and can confront Meyers, and though her behavior may have created a distance between herself and her family,  she is absolutely assured she is doing the right thing. Without Laurie, the film would have definitely struggled to be anything noteworthy with the new cast.

The iconic Haloween theme is back, and brings back the chilling undertones which a threat like Meyers brings. Obviously the main reason people will flock to this film is for the slasher violence, and Halloween delivers in that regard. Some of the deaths are rather shocking. While others are pretty graphic, as you would expect when the weapon of choice is primarily a kitchen knife! But the kills are also rather inconsistent, moments  such as the scene in a local fuel station toilet is very intense, bloody, and wonderfully shot. While other scenes mostly take place off screen/implied. A strange decision considering it’s an 18 rated movie, and the fluctuating violence does not give the film a consistent feel. Some scenes are very well executed, Meyers silent, casually butchering, while people innocently go out for Halloween on the streets is excellent, and his stalking scenes come off great, especially when motion detection lights are involved (as illogical as that scene)!

While the violence and horror is what keeps this movie above water, the characters and plot do manage to drag it back under. The core characters, Laurie, Meyers, Allyson work fine. While others are simply there to be killed off. But then there are characters that really get screen time for no reason.  Allyson’s boyfriend gets a lot of attention at the start, and is built up pretty well as someone you would enjoy seeing meeting his demise, but he randomly disappears and is never seen again! The whole Doctor sub-plot in the movie felt very unnecessary, and could have been removed entirely. There is also a random sassy kid, who delivers, what are wonderfully delivered one liners, felt utterly out of place. So what is supposed to be a horrific moment, becomes a joke, as the audience are laughing. Would a young kid who is literally facing death banter with people? It was a problem The Nun also had, forcing humour for no real reason.

The plot, which is rather simple, still has various flaws that will bug most, resorting to generic cliches. People slipping when they running then can’t get up. Leaving a serial killer who is being transferred, totally unprotected with no police escort whatsoever. The reason why Allyson ends up losing her phone during the film is so ludicrous and lazily written.  The ‘‘What can we do, cancel Halloween?’’ line is total cheese. Yes, cancel it, you’re the police chief, people will die! It simply sounded like a sound bite they wanted to use for promo material, and not something a law enforcement would do! After 40 years of prepping, Laurie’s plan is rather, archaic, with so much modern tech around, her plan could have been far more sophisticated, and simpler to execute.

That said, Halloween is still a great reboot to a stagnant franchise, but the film brings nothing new to the table. The plot and characters aren’t the best, but let’s be honest, you’ll be watching for the scares and kills, and on that side, it delivers a home run.  Halloween has its flaws, but Meyers does enough to make this film worthwhile, a perfectly decent night out!

Happy Death Day, It’s A Treat!

Combining the concept of reliving your own death from Edge of Tomorrow, with the 90s Slasher vibe from movies such as Scream, Happy Death Day is one of the most interesting concepts to be put to film this year, and a perfect treat for Halloween!

Jessica Rothe plays Tree Gelbman, your typical run of the mill college student, who after a rough night out, wakes up in a dorm room, unaware of the events of the night before. As we are shown, Tree isn’t exactly the nicest of people,  with her arrogant and dismissive seniority sister demeanor, she builds up a firm following of enemies on campus. This proves to be fatal, as that night, Tree runs into a masked stalker,  who takes her life with the assistance of a very big blade. But all is not as it seems! Following her death, she wakes up back in the dorm room from earlier that morning. She soon realizes she is trapped sort of time loop, in which her death is inevitable every night. Accepting her looming fate, Tree uses the time she has, to narrow down the culprit from her list of suspects!

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Though Happy Death Day has been built up as the return of the Slasher movie, it’s still no where near the sheer intensity of Scream. Yes, there’s a masked stalker, who happens to get very trigger happy with a knife in their hand. But here, our murders are a lot less graphic as films in this genre were , especially back in the 90s! Although it has a horror element to it, it is far more of a mystery movie, rather than a full on scare, so just a few tips to consider before walking into the cinema!

That said, HDD is a thoroughly enjoyable movie,  yes you have all the usual american college stereotypes here, the bitchy mean girls, the stalker, the geek etc., but it never hurts the film. Tree is by far the standout character in the movie,  her comedic chops are on show here, bringing several moments of laughter to the show. Her character also has an engaging arch, from her ignorant past self, to a more modest and understanding person she eventually becomes.

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As mentioned, we have a list of suspects, who each may have a reason to don the eerie mask and go after our protagonist.  Could it be Carter (Israel Broussard), the timid student’s dorm in which Tree wakes up in? Or maybe it’s Danielle (Rachel Matthews), the sorority leader, who is somewhat envious of Tree? Then again, it has to be the teacher she is having an affair with right? There are plenty suspects thrown in the mix to keep you doubts swinging between all our various potential killers!

Though the biggest flaw in the film has to be the very lazy explanation regarding the real killer, their motivation and how they did some of the murders. It’s a long stretch to believe someone would go straight to a blood thirsty killer on campus! Would they really leave a random toy playing a melody in a tunnel? It would make more sense for them to just get straight to the act, without all these curious actions. The plot seems to try to make itself look a lot more smarter than it really had to be, with the lat addition of a suspect which shows up from no where.  There are also several plot points left unsolved, it it just being careless, or resolutions being saved for a potential sequel?

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With far more humour than you would think, HDD is a great concept, that utilizes its college setting very well,  it may not be the perfect Halloween movie, but it has it’s moments of suspense, a vibrant  cast, and dead cert to leave you satisfied once the credits roll.

 

 

 

 

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