Halloween Kills

Written by Alexander Reams

93/100

I love movies. I have since I saw the first Iron Man. Films will sometimes come along and remind me why I love them. David Gordon Green’s follow-up to 2018’s Halloween is one of those films. 

Beginning back in 1978 on the first night Michael came home, we are introduced to a young Deputy Hawkins (Thomas Mann) and his partner Pete McCabe (Jim Cummings). They are hunting Michael after his killings, Laurie has been rescued, and now the hunt continues. Before he returns to his childhood home, Michael runs into a young boy, Lonnie Elam (who will become a surprising lookalike to actor Robert Longstreet). After this encounter, Michael makes it to his home and waits for his next victims to come to him. He is truly an animal, and he hunts like one, why would he go out and risk being seen when he knows they will come to him. Eventually, this comes to pass, with Hawkins and McCabe reaching the house. When they do, one can imagine what happens. We already know Hawkins survives, and Michael is apprehended. 

Jump to 40 years later, a quick recap for those who did not watch 2018’s Halloween. Michael escapes, Laurie is suffering from PTSD, Michael does some stabbing and choking, Laurie, her daughter Karen, and granddaughter Allyson trick Michael and trap him in Laurie’s “Batcave” and light the place up like a Roman candle. That was the end, or until Blumhouse decided to make 2 more sequels. Now all they have to do is have Michael (logically) escape a burning house. 

To my surprise, they took this challenge and conquered it with relative ease. Then made it macabre, beautiful, and horrifying. From Michael’s opening scene, escaping Laurie’s trap and cutting through several firefighters with ease. Gordon Green’s DP from 2018’s Halloween Michael Simmonds returns for Halloween Kills and his skill of blocking horrific, violent set-pieces is showcased once again. The lighting, using the fire as a gorgeous backdrop to show the silhouettes of the firefighters being slain. Making the entire sequence appear like a painting.

After he makes quick work of these firefighters, Michael begins to hunt, presumably for Laurie, who is now in the hospital recovering from the wounds that she received at the end of the previous film. Which was a welcome rush of realism to this franchise, Laurie is not a young woman anymore, she can’t jump back up immediately and go toe-to-toe with Michael again. She needs time to heal, which means in this film she is mostly relegated to the sidelines. While some might be disappointed, I was not, this gave time to other characters who were sidelined in the first film, i.e. Allyson, Laurie’s granddaughter. She takes center stage and shows how great of a performer she can be when she is given the right material. 

Following its 2018 predecessor, Halloween Kills also has something to say about society, and is now even more relevant after its countless delays. The idea of a mob mentality after the majority of 2020 is constantly in the social zeitgeist and here the creatives behind the film took that idea and turned it into Michael being the creator of more monsters and having them destroy the town for him. These survivors of Michael’s attacks and his continued hold on them have poisoned their outlooks on life and their ability to reasonably react to his return to Haddonfield.

Gordon Green and company’s return to the iconic franchise managed to do the impossible, continue the stories set up in the first film, tell a story between the beginning and ends of this trilogy, and deliver even more brutality than the first. With this writer loving the latter aspect the most. With every kill I felt the blood spattering and the force of Michael’s presence crushing my soul with every step he took. The final 15 minutes are some of the best filmmaking of Gordon Green’s career and set up a finale that cannot and should not be missed. Truly the Empire Strikes Back of horror films(or at the very least Halloween).

Halloween Kills Trailer

Halloween Kills is currently available to stream on Peacock and playing in wide theatrical releases.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

The Forever Purge

Written by Alexander Reams

39/100

Nearly eight years ago, a movie with Ethan Hawke came out. The film was marketed as a home invasion/ horror movie and was lackluster to say the least. Then, every summer for three years straight audiences got another movie in the PCU (Purge Cinematic Universe). I have enjoyed every entry since that inaugural entry, with The First Purge being my favorite entry in the franchise, it felt fresh and full of life, something The Purge: Election Year was sorely missing. Even with Frank Grillo being an absolute beast during the film, it felt like a dead body on Purge night. Now there is another newcomer director to the franchise, Everardo Gout, but there is still old blood behind the camera, producer Jason Blum and writer (and former director) James DeMonaco. Unfortunately unlike the previous Purge film, this mix didn’t work.

Every Purge film has been about one night of crime, you just knew that eventually they had to expand, this film finally does that and depicts the collapse of America and reverses the refugee crisis to have Americans be the refugees. Which leads the film to be a movie that makes white people try to feel bad about themselves and tries to condemn America for their treatment of the refugees. While that discussion is an important one, it’s not what the film is about, it’s how it’s about it. Unfortunately there is no subtlety to this, which takes away any enjoyment of the film.

I’ll just jump straight into what I liked about the film, the action set pieces. Gout brings a different style than the 2 previous directors, DeMonaco and Gerard McMurray (The First Purge). His camera placement and blocking of the scenes reminded me of 1990s action films, particularly Blade and The Fugitive. He shines brightly in the final gunfight with how he places the audience in the fight and I really enjoyed that. Gout employs a frenetic style that is very reminiscent of the Saw franchise, and it makes all of the action scene unwatchable, until the final gunfight, which drops all of that for beautiful wide shots, only cutting when necessary.

Everything leading up to this however is absolute garbage. Every quiet moment was trying way too hard to be politically relevant, especially Josh Lucas’ character. He was a big draw for me to see this film, but his role is a caricature of a typical rich white racist from Texas, and after 10 minutes it got very annoying. The blame lies in DeMonaco, he wrote the screenplay for every Purge film thus far. However even with Election Year, he wasn’t this heavy handed with the dialogue, I legitimately felt like I was being beaten with a sledgehammer with the message he wanted the audience to get. Almost every performance is bad, except Ana de la Reguera, which after her role in Army of the Dead, I knew she was an actor to watch. Here she stands out among a range of mediocre to bad performances and makes the film slightly more watchable. This is easily the worst Purge film so far and hopefully if another is made, it will be much higher in quality than this garbage fire.

The Forever Purge Trailer

The Forever Purge is now available to rent and purchase on major digital platforms.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

Episode 86: VIFF 2020 & NYFF 2020 / Undine / Nomadland / Time / The Human Voice

“A documentary film-maker can’t help but use poetry to tell the story. I bring truth to my fiction. These things go hand in hand.”

Chloé Zhao

Links: Apple Podcasts | Castbox | Google Podcasts | LibSyn | Spotify | Stitcher | YouTube

This week on Drink in the Movies Michael & Taylor discuss their First Impressions of: Sound of Metal & Minari. Followed by the VIFF 2020 and NYFF 2020 Titles: Undine, Nomadland, Time, and The Human Voice.

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Streaming links for titles this episode

Time is currently available on Prime Video

Undine has been acquired by IFC and currently awaits an official release date.

Nomadland has been pushed back from it’s December 4th 2020 release date and has not yet received an official release date.

The Human Voice will become available on March 21st, 2021

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