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film review

‘Halloween Kills’ is A Bloodthirsty, Gory Spectacle Filled With Campy One-Liners

Michael Myers (aka The Shape) in Halloween Kills, directed by David Gordon Green

When we hear Michael Myers’s name, we immediately think of a white mask, a work coveralls in a dark blue/gray color, or a bloody knife. Everyone knows his name, whether they’ve seen the slasher franchise or not. This Halloween season, Michael Myers is back, wanting to spill more blood. Halloween Kills is a crazy rollercoaster filled to the brim with gore, a high body count, elaborate kills, and a hysterical, entertaining script. The slasher directed by David Gordon Green, a creator of the 2018 chapter, will be a feast for the Michael Myers fans, but it may not be to everybody’s taste.

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has been on the run from the masked killer for quite some time. Forty years, to be exact, as mentioned frequently by the film’s characters. Following the events of the previous part, Laurie, her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) are transported to Haddonfield Hospital. Meanwhile, the infamous Boogeyman flees the burning building (sic!), killing many first responders in the process. Shortly after, the plot of Halloween Kills picks up when Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall), Lonnie (Robert Longstreet), Lindsey (Kyle Richards), and the nurse Marion (Nancy Stephens)—all of whom are survivors of previous encounters with Michael—band together with other residents of Haddonfield to apprehend the killer and ultimately defeat him.

There are horror films that shake the audience to their core and psychological horror films with deeper meanings. There are also slashers, a horror subgenre. Its most significant components are blood, killings, and cheesy dialogues. Halloween Kills has all of the above. The horror is a fun ride for fans of the franchise and horror films in general. This time, Laurie Strode takes a back seat as the younger generation takes the reign. After the turbulent events and the death of her husband, Karen is shaken and more cautious, insisting on keeping watch by her mother’s hospital bed. Allyson, on the other hand, desires the opposite – the young woman is filled with rage and a want for vengeance. Greer and Matichak are a fabulous mother-daughter duo who especially steps into the spotlight. Especially Matichak as determined Allyson who refuses to give up gives a great performance.

Dylan Arnold, Andi Matichak, and Robert Longstreet in Halloween Kills.

The return of Kyle Richards and Nancy Stephens is a tempting prospect that tremendously intrigued the audience and die-hard fans of the 1978 slasher; finally, two of the original characters return to confront Michael. Unfortunately, while it was a great idea on paper, the film doesn’t devote enough time to the legendary characters. Instead, Anthony Michael Hall takes the narrative and transforms it into a battle between Michael and the residents of Haddonfield. Beware, the phrase “Evil dies tonight” is repeated frequently, and whether it was a coincidence or a deliberate goal, it provides excellent entertainment and an occasional eye roll. It also opens a possibility to a great drinking game.

The Halloween franchise is a lot of things, but cheesy was never one of them, at least not to this extent. However, because of Kills‘ over-the-top script, many hilarious one-liners become stuck in one’s head. The chapter ups the ante on the body count, which is exactly what we want from a slasher. Michael also gets very creative with the death scenes, whether it’s eyes popping out of the skull, a cracked bottle slicing the neck or a chainsaw.

It’s not advisable to look for logic or an ambitious script. Otherwise, you’ll be let down. Michael Myers is The Shape, The Boogeyman, the figure in the shadows who creeps up on you and murders you when you least expect it. But he won’t die, no matter how many times you shoot him, slice him, kick him, or even try to burn him. Instead, he wants to return to his childhood home, walk upstairs, and stand quietly by the window, staring at himself in the mirror. The sooner people grasp it, the better!

Best advice? Expect blood, guts, broken limbs, and cheesiness, and you’ll have the best time with the slasher. That is precisely why the film works. It’s difficult to say if this was David Gordon Green’s specific goal or not. Nonetheless, if you’re a Michael Myers fan, Halloween Kills provides plenty of entertainment. It’s a film that will surely diversify the audience and may spark a polarizing discussion. But, without a doubt, it’s a great position for the spooky season.

Grade: 7 out of 10

Halloween Kills is currently in cinemas as well as on Peacock with an upgraded subscription.

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Bez kategorii Feature television

Mike Flanagan’s ‘Midnight Mass’ and The Show’s Themes of Faith and Rebirth

This article contains spoilers to Midnight Mass.

There is no doubt that Mike Flanagan, the director of Doctor Sleep and The Haunting of Bly Manor, is a master in creating a unique, elevated type of horror. Instead of focusing on the display of blood or jump scares, the director uses real-life terrors to affect the viewer. Through this procedure, his works are one of the scariest productions in the contemporary horror genre. For example, Bly Manor‘s topics of passing without being remembered, grief, and tragic love story made the series personally terrifying.

His most recent television series, a Netflix original series titled Midnight Mass, was something he had long wanted to make. The show, which stars Hamish Linklater in the lead role of Father Paul—the main and only priest of the close-knit community on a Crockett Island, manages to completely perplex the viewer and provoke further discussion on the subjects of faith, its abuse in the hands of a human, and rebirth, both presented metaphorically and literally in the show. The series also addresses the issues of guilt and sobriety.

The subject of faith is central to Midnight Mass. The majority of the scenes occur in a small church on Crockett Island, whether subtle or intense. The show is a slow burn, with the first episodes focusing on the characters’ study. Flanagan devotes his full attention to each character. As a result, the audience gets to know them very well. Amongst them are Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford)—a man who returns to the island after spending years in prison for driving drunk and killing a young woman, Erin Greene (Kate Siegel)—a soon-to-be-mom teacher, and Beverly Keane (Samantha Sloyan)—a particularly annoying and God-fearing woman who is willing to die for the priest if he asks.

As Father Paul mysteriously arrives on the island, strange things begin to happen, such as dead cats appearing on the beach or creatures with shiny eyes hiding in the dark. Nothing is scarier, however, than the resident’s unexplainable de-aging. Sarah Gunning (Annabeth Gish), a doctor on Crockett Island, surely attempts to solve the mystery, especially since her barely walking mother, Mildred (Alex Essoe), can suddenly stand, run, and even attend mass. But, while solving the puzzle is intriguing, the main issue is the residents’ God-fearing and Catholic attitude. They all have a strong faith in God, and while not everyone can afford to go to the measures of one Beverly Keane, the townspeople soak up every word of Father Paul like a sponge. Once could even say that the priest easily manipulates and brainwashes them, yet they still follow him “in the name of God.”

Mike Flanagan does an amazing, mind-bending job of demonstrating how dangerous and toxic faith—and faithful people—can be. It’s so simple for Father Paul to twist the words of the Bible to fit his needs and agenda. After being murdered by an “angel” and reborn, he poisons the residents with his blood “in the name of God.” Father Pruitt, who was previously old and suffering from dementia, is now young and practically indestructible. He’s using Bible verses as an excuse to tell lies and goe even as far as overlooking a murder. The latter is truly terrifying, especially when compared to real life. People of faith who believe that being a part of the LGBTQ+ community is an unforgivable sin don’t yet justify murder, but they are on their way to saying less and doing more.

Midnight Mass brilliantly depicts the aftermath of faith being used to mask the agendas of others. The show’s final three episodes, particularly its heartbreaking finale, truly encapsulate it. When Father Paul realizes what he has done, it’s too late and simply impossible to undo.

The identity of the “angel” responsible is unknown. Although the priest wholeheartedly believes that God sent the bloodthirsty creature to resurrect him and the residents, he is more likely to be an ancient vampire. It’s unclear whether Father Paul truly believes he’s an angel or if he’s just using it to mask his plan, and we can only speculate.

In Midnight Mass, Flanagan takes the theme of rebirth quite literally. After the “angel” drinks his blood, Father Paul is reborn, and the man then makes the decision for his parishioners and takes the choice away from them. They, too, are reborn for a brief time.

However, the rebirth can also be interpreted symbolically, as in Riley’s character. The Flynns’ oldest son, brilliantly portrayed by Zach Gilford, begins his life anew after returning to the island. Riley, who is still haunted by his past actions, keeps seeing a young woman he murdered while driving drunk. His rebirth is slow and subtle. The man spends the most time with Erin now that he is sober. In the final scene with Siegel’s character on the boat, we see him truly reborn. He lets go of the guilt, and he allows himself to be forgiven. The intensity of the moment, filled with emotions, grows even stronger as he burns to ashes.

Midnight Mass has many other wonderful aspects. Among them are a stellar cast, stunning direction, and an emotional soundtrack composed by The Newton Brothers. Furthermore, the series tells a unique story and brilliantly explores it. In today’s world, the topic of faith and its abuse for selfish purposes has become personal. Midnight Mass becomes one of the scariest series this year due to this aspect, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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Bez kategorii

TIFF21 Capsule Review: “Jagged” Showcases The Success of Alanis Morissette’s Most Famous Record and Its Aftermath

Alanis Morrisette

Alanis Morissette’s dark, wavy hair falling over her face, the role of speechless God in Dogma, or Ironic – the audience all over the world recognizes her for a variety of reasons. Throughout the years, the Canadian musician released several successful albums. There is, however, one that started it all. Alison Klayman’s documentary Jagged depicts Alanis Morissette’s life, particularly the beginnings of her extremely successful album, Jagged Little Pill, and the tour that followed.

As Alanis sits in the chair in front of the camera with her legs folded, she explains that Jagged Little Pill was an attempt to become empowered. The singer talks about the writing, her childhood tv show titled You Can’t Do That On Television, shooting videos, and about You Oughta Know, the song from the album that essentially sparked her career and made her famous after airing on KROQ-FM. 

But Jagged is more than just an illustration of Alanis’ efforts to create one of the most successful albums in the world. As the documentary progresses, the musician delves deeper into more serious issues, such as her struggle with eating disorder and Hollywood’s rape culture. “Women don’t wait. Culture doesn’t listen,” she says why we hear about women coming out with accusations years later.

As Jagged progresses, there is a furthermore discussion about partly negative reception of the record. Many interviewees mention it in talks with the producers and express their frustration with the critics and, specifically, male critics’ response to the “female rage” emanating from Morissette’s album.

In summary, Jagged is a film about Alanis Morissette’s most famous album and its execution, but it goes deeper than this sole topic. It discusses the singer’s life after her worldwide fame erupted and the depth of of her lyrics. It showcases the maturity of then 19-year-old musician and the way she handled sudden fame and stress that goes with it.

It means even more to me to see the work on Jagged Little Pill because it is my favorite Alanis Morissette album. Growing up, it had a big influence on me, especially You Oughta Know and Ironic. The documentary hits home even more for those who have personal ties to the album. It’s a must-see for music fans, Alanis fans, and those who have yet to discover the singer’s angelic voice and powerful lyrics.

Despite recent reports that the singer doesn’t want anything to do with the new HBO Max documentary, it’s still worthy to view the documentary and see the path to creating Jagged Little Pill.

Grade: A

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TIFF21 Capsule Review: “Petite Maman” is An Imaginative, Emotional, Innocent Drama About Childlike Wonder

Joséphine and Gabrielle Sanz in “Petite Maman” / Neon.

We’ve all felt a pull towards our heritage, our family’s past, especially as children. We want to know what our parents were like when they were our age. In their spare time, what did they enjoy doing? Petite Maman is about all of this, but it’s so much more. Céline Sciamma’s latest drama film is an elaborative, often emotional film that beautifully depicts a mother-daughter relationship, family ties, and the magic of childlike wonder.

After 8-year-old Nelly (Joséphine Sanz) loses her grandmother, whom she adored, the little girl assists her mother (Nina Meurisse) and father (Stéphane Varupenne) in cleaning her mother’s childhood home located near the forest. Shortly after, Nelly meets Marion (Gabrielle Sanz) as she explores the surrounding area. Struggling to accept her grandmother’s death, Nelly helps the newly-met friend build a hut in the middle of the forest. The girls grow closer to each other over time, sharing many secrets that connect them in an unusual, beautiful way. 

sJoséphine Sanz and Nina Meurisse in “Petite Maman” / Neon.

Petite Maman begins quietly, nostalgically, and subtly, laced with sadness, departure, and grief. Because of personal reasons, the first act hits extremely close to home. My wound from losing my grandmother not long ago hasn’t healed yet. As a result, watching Sciamma’s latest work feels extremely relatable. Especially when Nelly tells her mother, “I didn’t say goodbye to her. The last goodbye wasn’t good. Because I didn’t know”. The similarities don’t end with that. In addition, as a young girl, I lived very close to the forest. I spent time exploring various paths, just as Nelly, and discovering many hiding spots.

Although initially very personal and heartbreaking, the film has a rather innocent tone as told from the perspectives of Nelly and Marion. Joséphine and Gabrielle Sanz are at the heart of the film, stealing the spotlight from every other supporting character. The young actresses are thoroughly endearing and sweet. Their characters truly embody the childlike wonder and curiosity that we, as adults, often lose as we get older.

Petite Maman, written and directed by Sciamma, tells an extraordinary story. The film’s imaginative viewpoint and truths hidden between the lines all resurface at the film’s emotional conclusion.

The film is an excellent choice to kick off the Toronto International Film Festival. It’s subtle but powerful. It’s both innocent and heartbreaking. It will elicit reflection afterward and linger in our minds as we go about our day.

Grade: 10 out of 10.

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Emmy Feature television The Handmaid's Tale

The season 4 finale of “The Handmaid’s Tale” is the series’ most satisfying finale yet

The below article may contain spoilers for the season finale of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Do you remember how, after waking up from a four-year coma, Kill Bill’s Black Mamba finally exacts her vengeance on those who had wronged her and it’s both delicious and satisfying to watch? June Osborne (Elisabeth Moss) waited about the same amount of time. After years of torture, physical and mental abuse, and rape, enraged June demands justice. With the final episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, “Wilderness,” airing this Wednesday, the creators may have delivered the most satisfying and utterly delectable finale that will leave you with goosebumps.

In the final scene of the ninth episode, we discover that Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) made a deal with Mark Tuello (Sam Jaeger) – the information about Gilead and its system for his and Serena’s freedom. While the man delivers the news to June, we observe her expression gradually changing. From the slight smile, it transforms into full-fledged rage when the woman runs after Tuello and screams, “That man is a fucking rapist and you know what he did to me! You know! You know what he did to those women! I’m going to fucking kill you!”

The Handmaid’s Tale — “The Wilderness” – Episode 410 — June draws on all her resources and relationships, risking everything to ensure her own kind of justice. June (Elisabeth Moss), shown. (Photo by: Sophie Giraud/Hulu)

The scene itself exudes rage, frustration, and anger. It easily translates into our world, where women are consistently let down by those who should have protected them and are forced to watch their oppressors walk free. We can feel June’s rage in every fiber of our being. In this and every other scene, Elisabeth Moss’ acting is riveting and enchanting.

In the season four finale, “Wilderness,” we see the main character struggling to accept that Fred is ready to jet off to Geneva to await his trial. When he returns, he will be a free man, as Fred tells Serena in one of the scenes. Luke tries to console June and even suggests that she should let it go (really, Luke?). However, it’s clear that the former Handmaid won’t rest until Fred has received justice for the actions he committed at Gilead.

Bruce Miller has a surprise for us just when we think it’s all over. June has a few more trump cards up her sleeve. Commander Lawrence is one of them, and he makes Tuello an offer: twenty-two women walking from Gilead in exchange for “our brother’s return.” It’s an indescribable feeling of pleasure and satisfaction to see confused Fred being escorted away in a van. It’s possibly the first time in an entire series that he’s treated at least a little bit like the women he oppressed – confused, scared, and unsure of what will happen next. Nobody, not even Nick (Max Minghella), tells him anything.

And that’s where the spectacle begins. Miller and Liz Garbus, the director of the final episode, orchestrate a true tour-de-force, brilliant in perception and execution. The creators serve us yet another surprise that forces us to stand up and clench our fists in anticipation. After the arrival in no man’s land, June appears in front of Fred with two items – a gun and a whistle; she demands the man to choose. 

Even in a dire situation that Fred finds himself in, bleeding from his nose, he doesn’t believe that June has what it takes to shoot him. But that’s where he once again underestimates the power and wisdom of women. After blowing the whistle, other formerly oppressed women, including Emily (Alexis Bledel), appear behind June. “Run,” she quietly says.

Our emotions seem to reach their apex, and we don’t believe that the joy can be any greater, but we are mistaken. Miller and Garbus go above and beyond in an aesthetically pleasing, highly evocative sequence to serve the long-awaited vengeance in the most satisfying way, both with narrative and direction. “It has to look like love. That’s what he needs,” June narrates as the chase begins. “Pretend you like it. Pretend you love it. Pretend you want it. He is your Commander. He is your whole world. Don’t run. Don’t kick. Don’t scream.”

June’s narrative intertwines with Leslie Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me,” which has become the series’ anthem. Fred ultimately receives what is known as poetic justice, just as the lyrics reverberate in our ears. Without a doubt, the overall composition of the scene is one of the most exciting and empowering scenes in the fourth season. The main character smiles contentedly and completes her revenge, much like Beatrix Kiddo serving The Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique.

Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and Serena Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski), shown. (Photo by: Sophie Giraud/Hulu)

June and others ultimately get what they’ve been waiting for. The character can finally move on, but that doesn’t mean her actions will be understood by those around her. For instance, Luke is struck by June’s appearance in the following scene. What will their future bring? What about the rest? When the season ends, a befuddled Serena is left hanging on Zoom, not knowing Fred’s fate. What will her reaction be? Is her safety jeopardized? What about June? Will she be able to heal and continue her search for Hannah?

The finale of the fourth season is the most satisfying yet. While the one of last season filled me with tears as the plane with children and Rita landed, this one filled me with utter satisfaction. Let’s hope that the cast and crew of The Handmaid’s Tale receive a slew of Emmy nominations this year, because they certainly deserve it. 

The Handmaid’s Tale is available to stream on Hulu.