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!

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Review : The Nun ★★

THE NUN

Directed by: Corin Hardy
Starring : Taissa Farmiga, Demian Bichir, Bonnie Aarons

The Conjuring franchise has become one of the most revered horror franchise of recent times (well apart from the disappointing Annabelle). One of the biggest highlights from the last mainstream entry, The Conjuring 2, was the demonic presence of Valek, a nun, but not so holy. So it was inevitable there would be an origin story, but would it deliver, or be awfully underwhelming like the previous origin attempt with Annabelle?

Set in post WW2 Europe, Romania to be exact. An isolated monastery out in the forest, is being terrorized by an unknown satanic force. As a local discovers the corpse of one of the Nuns, news filters back to Rome, who dispatch one of their own to further investigate matters, Father Burke (Bichir). Together with Nun-to be, Sister Irene (Farmiga) set off east, to confront the demon (Aarons).

One of the biggest difference with this film, compared to the main series, is the director. James Wan who has created some fantastic horror, is not at the helm here, but rather Corin Hardy. What makes the Conjuring movies so chilling, is rather what you don’t see, than what you do. Building up the suspense is ways other than simply using jump scares for cheap thrills. Such as the use of a simple eerie painting in Conjuring 2. The Nun actually starts of rather well, the locations are perfect for a good scare, forests, check, graveyards, check, a church, check! It all builds up fairly well, one scene featuring the corpse of the nun from the start of the film is done very strongly. But as soon as the demon Valek is revealed (which is far too early in the film) it unfortunately falls back to the traps that catch out many horror flicks, jump scares.  Once the veil of mystery is lifted, it almost becomes laughably comedic at times.

Speaking of comedy, we are introduced to ‘Frenchie’, the local guide who originally stumbled across the body. He is in essence the best part of the film, but also the worst! His sassy humour is indeed quite funny, but it feels awfully out of place. Sure a laugh is useful to break the tension at certain moments, but having it go on through the film felt a rather odd choice. As great as his lines may be, it really does take away a lot of the sinister aura from scenes.

The plot is also very lazy, with one scene in particular summarizing the entire background to the events in a few minute or so. Thanks random side character! Sister Irene is the person we follow, as she attempts to dig deeper into the mystery. The reason she is on this journey is her prior knowledge of the area, even though she admits to never being in Romania. This is never addressed again! Nor are her demonic nightmares she constantly has, as she hasn’t been exposed to out demon previously, nor is she ‘cursed’ as someone of special interest. Valek’s plan also never really makes sense, if the demon is already free, why is it still here? The film doesn’t really make it clear what its agenda is. The film sets up an intriguing ending, to how it may link to the ‘current’ events in the Conjuring universe, but the film stumbles, and goes another way, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but its far less dramatic than what they could have gone with.

Overall, The Nun isn’t a total dud, there are scenes which are genuinely scary,  and Valek is as ghastly as it was in the prior movie (before is goes full cheese by the finale), there have been far worse horror films out this year, but considering the other films in this franchise, The Nun really fails to deliver, and is no where near as unnerving as the film it follows, Annabelle Creation.

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