Halloween (2018)

October 31, 2018 by  
Filed under Movies

“Halloween” is now 40 years old, and every generation we’ve had since has had a sequel and remake or reboot of the series. Following “Halloween II” in 1981, there was another sequel that acted more like spin-off, “Halloween III: Season of the Witch” which wanted to re-start the series as an anthology. But it was essentially “re-booted” in 1988 with “Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers”. In the 1990’s, we got another “re-boot”/sequel with “Halloween: H20”. Then, there was a sequel to that, “Resurrection”…which…doesn’t need to exist at all.

The series was re-booted entirely and re-made with Rob Zombie’s “Halloween”, that re-imagined (RE: RE: RE:) the whole story, giving Michael Myers a backstory and made it a bit more sympathetic than many people wanted. Then THAT movie got a sequel, so we got another “Halloween 2”, which also…doesn’t need to exist at all (Zombie didn’t even want to do a sequel in the first place, much like his predecessor following “Halloween” in 1978).

Now, we have a bit of a mish-mash with “Halloween (2018)”. First, it’s the THIRD movie called “Halloween”, and it follows nearly exactly the same plot as the original and its reboot. And for this generation…I mean, how can we confuse them anymore than we have? You just have to call this “Halloween ’18” for the sake of sanity.

Speaking of sanity, we are introduced to Michael Myers in the present day, 40 years after “Halloween”. That’s right–none of the sequels/re-boots/spin-offs/re-makes exist at all in THIS “Halloween” Cineverse. Myers is being held at a hospital, where Doctor Sartain (Haluk Bilginer) has been observing and caring for Michael since Loomis’s death years ago. So in this world, Myers committed the “babysitter murders” (the original title of “Halloween”), and was committed to the institution. Now, however, he is being transferred to an actual prison to serve out the rest of his however many life terms. Two “podcast” journalists, Aaron (Jefferson Hall) and Dana (Rhian Rees), have been seeking him out for years, trying to get him to speak. They bring him his mask, and Aaron beckons passionately to say something until we are bolted into the opening credits.

There’s an interesting effect with the pumpkin in the credit sequence. We have a smashed or deflated pumpkin that gradually becomes full again, and the sequence ends with us peering into one of its lighted eyes. As if to say we are…resurrecting…the “Halloween” franchise all over again. So strap in!

The film mainly centers around Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) who has become a recluse even while raising a daughter, Karen (Judy Greer), who is now grown and has her own daughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak). The three of them are the nucleus of the narrative: but we are somewhat led to believe that the podcasters in the beginning and Dr. Sartain, are also going to play big parts. But more about that in a minute.

When Michael escapes (again…or…for the first time…again), Laurie becomes obsessed with killing him. In fact, that’s all she’s done since he’s been locked away. She’s been waiting for the moment he “comes back” so she can finish the job. She has been practicing firing guns, self-defense, everything that can make you ready to…kill someone. It’s also at this point that this “Halloween” starts looking a lot like all the other “Halloweens”.

And most of it looks like it’s on purpose. We are given many shots of recalls to not only other “Halloween” sequels, but the original “Halloween” as well. Most of it is visual, and many are allusions. But it begins to feel like this could literally be called “Halloween: Tribute”. Director David Gordon Green certainly wanted this to be a love letter to the series, while making his own movie–but in terms of “fan fiction”, sometimes this goes a little overboard.

There are sub-plots that go nowhere. There are scenes with unnecessary amounts of gore that even undermine what the original’s spirit was: killing scenes more implied than graphic. This has bludgeoning murder sequences that even Rob Zombie might flinch at. And I didn’t see the point. There are scenes merely set up to add to the body count, and they’re not all that interesting otherwise.

The film’s strength comes from its trio of heroines, and each one has their moment to shine. Allyson is caught in the teenage web of bad boyfriends and bad parties, but she still has time to help save the day in the end. Karen is trying to shake off bad memories of a childhood lost because her mom taught her to be afraid of basements and closets, awaiting the return of Michael.

But as the movie plays out like many of its sequels and re-boots, I just couldn’t help but think that this could have been done completely differently. Maybe Laurie becomes the villain in some way. After all, taking away her daughter’s childhood is pretty drastic. Maybe Karen grows up to be something dangerous.

Instead, we are given another version of “Halloween” and…yeah, it’s nice to see the music back in full form. It’s nice to see a GOOD Michael Myers-driven sequel. But other than that, it’s a pretty empty shell of its former self, and once again, out of the three movies called “Halloween”…the 1978 version is still the best. And maybe, the only one you ever really need to see in your life.

My rating: :?

Carrie (2013)

October 22, 2013 by  
Filed under Movies

“Carrie” is an iconic horror film from the 1970’s that probably never needed to be dug up and remade again (isn’t she supposed to be burning in hell anyway?). But, there was another iconic horror film from the 1970’s that was remade, and remade pretty well, and that was Rob Zombie’s “Halloween”. So why not?

Then again, “Carrie” was already remade. But do TV remakes count? This one shouldn’t have. And let’s not mention “The Rage: Carrie 2”. OK, I just did. But let’s just move on now.

This remake is directed by Kimberly Pierce (“Boys Don’t Cry”), and has a strong cast including Julianne Moore as the psychotic fundamentalist Christian mother, Margaret; and, Chloe Grace Moretz as the titular character, Carrie White. Sprinkled in the supporting cast is Judy Greer as the gym teacher Miss Desjardin, Portia Doubleday as Chris Hargensen, and Gabriella Wilde as Sue Snell. This is a contemporary remake, so all of the events in the film take place now, not back in the 70’s. This sets the stage for a film that could really make a statement or at least have an opinion on the 21st century problems of “cyber bullying” and “mean girl syndrome” that seems to be infecting more and more schools around the world. In the hands of such a good director as Pierce, I had high hopes.

However, this film just pricks and prods at the problems of abuse and bullying rather than really taking these issues to task. Carrie (finely played by Moretz) is a 17 year old virgin who experiences her first period (a bit late) in the gym showers after a water volleyball scrimmage. The mean girls laugh at her and take photos; Chris (nicely played by Doubleday) uses video from her iPhone and puts it up on Youtube (doesn’t everybody use Instagram for short videos now?). At first, Sue (Wilde) is part of the action, but she starts to feel guilty. The gym teacher puts a stop to the whole ordeal and tries to comfort Carrie while also punishing the mean girls.

Meanwhile, during Carrie’s meltdown, she finds out she has telekinetic powers. This leads her overbearing Evangelical mother (Moore) into believing she’s a witch and forces her into a small closet to pray about it. Something tells me that’s not going to exorcise the demons though.

The movie’s plot pretty much plays out the same way the original did, which is a bit disappointing since they could’ve gone for a different approach. The original novel is written in an epistolary style, telling the story from media viewpoints after the fact. In this day and age of 24 hour, ubiquitous media outlets exploiting every single story out there, I think it would’ve been a nice idea to try and use that as a device to make a commentary on today’s society. Think of interviews with survivors with Bill O’Reilly; or, people blaming liberals and conservatives for Carrie and school bullying? Social satire would’ve been a fresh idea here. The acting is good, and Julianne Moore does a worthy job of filling in Piper Laurie’s shoes as Margaret. But her character isn’t nearly as menacing and scary as in the original film. As good a job as Moretz does as Carrie, she just doesn’t have that same innocent and yet “could snap at any moment” quality that Sissy Spacek naturally had.

As familiar and predictable as the remake is, being so close to the original, it starts to break down toward the end with the prom sequence. First, we come to realization that we hardly know any of these characters and so the prom just doesn’t feel that big of a deal. It feels like it’s just there to serve as the climax. And because we haven’t had the chance to really get to know any characters, some of the mocking at Carrie during her “pig’s blood” scene doesn’t really add up. Especially when her period video is being shown on a loop on a big screen during it. The natural reaction to something like that, I would think, would be more horror than laughter. Even with how mean kids can be, there’s not a whole lot of setup that the whole school is full of disaffected desensitized youth–only the mean girls share that quality.

So when Carrie finally comes undone, she comes off more as a Hogwarts reject showing off her magical powers (and in some facial expressions, looks like she is enjoying it for the sake of it), rather than a traumatized victim who’s finally acting out her aggression on those who have tormented her throughout the whole film. And that’s where the film just falls completely flat. Before the prom scene, I could forgive it as a nice and faithful remake. But then when you start to think about all of the possibilities this film had to be so much more, I just felt that it was overall a †missed opportunity.

My rating:†:?