Behind Again

I’m still reviewing Halloween movies here firmly in December and that’s because I’ve been busy and lazy, a wonderful combination. So I’m going to have to squish some of my To Do list into one post, which I kind of hate but what can you do?

Here’s what I’ve been watching since the end of October:

Halloween

I waited for what feels like forever for this 40th anniversary sequel and… I can’t say I was disappointed. A lot of it doesn’t work, some of it spectacularly (looking at you fake Doctor Loomis/terrible podcasters) but all in all David Gordon Green‘s offering is a lot of fun and that’s what I wanted.

Jamie Lee is dope as the deeply affected, original Final Girl™ Laurie Strode. A lifetime of paranoia has made her into a reclusive survivalist and she is barely holding onto her family as a result. But what happens when all that preparation finally comes to fruition? Well, you’ll find out when Michael Myers busts out of the institution that has held him for the last four decades – and the whole thing is as gory and tense as you’d imagine. Plus, there’s something truly disconcerting about the humanisation of The Shape just before shit kicks off.

My Rating

4.5/5. Probably for nostalgia more than anything. 

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

In my opinion this movie suffers for not featuring enough Jack Black but IT’s Jeremy Ray Taylor does a fine job as a mini version of the man himself. If I’m honest, I don’t remember too much about the plot (I think because I saw The House with a Clock in its Walls right before it and they’ve sort of blended into one) but I did enjoy its childlike Halloween wonder.

The effects are very good – plenty of inventive monsters and sadistic gummy bears – the kids are fantastic and Slappy is a dollop of mischievous fun. I think I’ll always be here for the Goosebumps movies honestly, they’re charming. I’ll definitely be hitting this up with a re-watch as soon as possible.

My Rating

3.5/5. Witches be crazy. 

The Hate U Give

Based on the YA novel by Angie Thomas which I have half read, THUG is a pretty solid adaptation, if a little heavy-handed in its delivery. Starring the ridiculously talented Amandla Stenberg as our main protagonist Starr and the ridiculously cool Regina Hall as Starr’s ferocious mother Lisa, this movie examines subject matter that is all too relevant. I enjoyed the ride and also cried like a baby throughout.

While I could never understand what Starr and her family and community have to deal with, I was pumping the air with triumph as Starr stood up for herself and her lost friends in the most dramatic, tense scenes imaginable. Not only does this movie look at the horror of racism and police brutality, it also hones in on the insidiousness of subconscious prejudice, particularly within Starr’s own friendship group. Russell Hornsby is fantastic too as Starr’s wise old ex-gang member father.

My Rating

4/5. Powerful stuff. 

Slaughterhouse Rulez

Meh. This, sadly, was a steaming pile of nothingness and given the cast, I’m surprised. It’s just not that memorable, funny or endearing – and takes an age to get going. When it does there are a couple of okay moments but there’s not enough to make it worth the effort. Sorry, Nick Frost, I still love you.

My Rating

2.5/5. A real stinker.

Widows

My takeaway from this is that Viola Davis should be cast in every film from now on. Literally every single one. As freshly widowed Veronica, she is mesmerising – the perfect blend of vulnerability and strength – I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. She is matched perfectly though by Elizabeth Debicki as Alice, who steal scenes left and right, even from the Queen herself.

I enjoyed this film very much, it follows the lives of a handful of women left devastated by the death of their husbands, a band of bank robbers. But as with most crime capers, there are twists at every turn and danger lurking in every shadow, not least the terrifying Manning Brothers, Jatemme and Jamal (played, respectively, by two of my favourite actors, Daniel Kaluuya and Brian Tyree Henry).

My Rating

4/5. Girl power at its finest.

Bohemian Rhapsody

I avoided this for a few weeks before finally relenting and I enjoyed myself. Rami Malek nails Freddie so convincingly that it is ridiculous. Honestly, I knew he was good but this guy needs to take home Oscar in the Spring or there is no justice in the world.

There are a few things wrong with this biopic and it’s exaggerated in places I’m sure but it’s also moving, triumphant and seriously satisfying. The music is ace (as you’d expect) and did I mention the central performance is pretty decent?

My Rating

4/5. Don’t think I didn’t go home and listen to the entire Queen back catalog. 

~

What have you been watching?

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The House with a Clock in Its Walls

The Movie

The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018)

The Director

Eli Roth

The Cast

Jack BlackCate BlanchettOwen Vaccaro, Kyle MacLachlan

IMDB Synopsis

A young orphan named Lewis Barnavelt aids his magical uncle in locating a clock with the power to bring about the end of the world.

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My Thoughts

I’ve a little bit of weakness for YA horror/fantasy, I can’t help myself. I think it might be because these are the kind of films that made me fall in long-term love with horror. I also have a little thing for JB and therefore this was a no-brainer. I enjoyed this ride, despite being the oldest member of the audience not accompanied by a child.

As Lewis gets to grips with his new life, living with his eccentric uncle Jonathan Barnavelt (Black) and occasionally, just as kooky next-door neighbour Florence Zimmerman (Blanchett), he learns that there is more to life than meets the eye – magic things – and there’s nothing more magical (and also sinister) as a house with a hidden clock buried in its walls.

While the family search for this torturous contraption, concealed somewhere deep in the core of the building, Jonathan’s arch nemesis Isaac Izard (Maclachlan) plans his comeback, with a little help from his beloved wife, Selena (Renée Elise Goldsberry). And Lewis must also navigate possibly the hardest landscape of all – middle school.

Honestly, this is a beautiful looking film with wholehearted performances from everyone. Cate is utterly breath-taking as the damaged (but determined) Florence. I feel like she should never veer from her purple colour palette ever again, it’s such a good look for her.

The effects are good and it’s above all fun to experience. There’s a really wonderful scene set in the ornate back garden that is stunning – and a head to head between our heroic trio and a bunch of haunted pumpkins. What’s not to love?

My Rating

3.5/5.

The Darkest Minds

The Darkest Minds (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Imprisoned by an adult world that now fears everyone under 18, a group of teens form a resistance group to fight back and reclaim control of their future.

*Minor spoilers*

In the not too distant future, things are looking bad for the kids. The ones that aren’t dying mysteriously have powers that fall into a series of categories, ranging from manageable to highly dangerous. These powers – including telekinesis, hyper intelligence and the ability to channel and control electricity – render the government terrified.

In response, all kids under 18 are torn from the bosoms of their families and shepherded off to internment camps where they’re filed according to colour (and therefore risk to society). They’re also given menial tasks to keep them useful and presumably out of trouble.

Our heroine, Ruby is one of the rarest of children. An Orange to be specific and considered the most dangerous. Among her skills is the ability to manipulate people into doing her will (think Jedi Mind Trick). It’s the Rolls Royce of the superpower if we’re honest and the one I would choose for myself.

During routine registration, Ruby is able to convince her doctor that she is not a threat and she is miscategorised as a Green. Nobody but her knows the level of her power and honestly, she still doesn’t really have a clue what she’s capable of.

Years later, grown up Ruby’s (Amandla Stenberg) secret is uncovered (duh). But when she meets Cate (Mandy Moore), part of an organisation called The Children’s League, she is able to escape the camp. Confused and not sure who to trust, Ruby separates herself from Cate and her husband – and finds herself on the run with Zu, Charles and Liam.

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“Wakey Wakey Eggs and Bac’y”

All Ruby wants is to go home to her parents but there’s an issue there which will soon become clear. Can she ever go back? And when the gang eventually find “Slip Kid”, a fellow Orange who runs a safe and secret utopia of his own, will they finally be safe?

The Darkest Minds is very much the first in a series of films and feels like it. While Ruby is very likable, thanks to Stenberg – it’s quite fast-moving with a lot crammed in. In addition to the rebellion and The Children’s League (and their own motives, which aren’t that clear yet), there are also freelance bounty hunters hot on the heels of our group (and all children kicking against the system).

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The Scary Spicy biopic revealed a very fantastic back story for Mel B

My girl Gwendoline Christie plays a bounty hunter called Lady Jane – and is just not very good. The role is not very meaty admittedly but it is very hammy (lol) and I don’t like seeing her like this. The romantic element, while sweet, also grows a little tiresome – maybe, just maybe I’m too old for this shit. I think anyone with a penchant for YA adaptations, such as The Hunger Games, Divergent and Twilight, will be in their element but I can take or leave most of them and this is why it didn’t work for me.

All in all the concept is good, the performances are mostly good (including Beach Rats pretty boy Harris Dickinson) and it looks nice. I like the idea of these very different children finding acceptance among their peers and the friendship element is strong here.

Some of the lighting and the cinematography is really heavenly to look at and the whole idea of being forgotten by the ones you love is heart-wrenching but it’s just not really my jam. I allowed myself to be seduced by the “From the producers of Stranger Things” tagline and, while I don’t regret going out of my way to see this, I’m not sure I’ll be in line for part 2.

Who am I kidding though, of course I will.

My Rating

3/5.