X: Pornstars Versus The American South

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Ti West’s latest offering, of questionable taste, is porn stars verse an old couple with I guess super powers?

Obviously I am having somewhat of a laugh by suggesting that the old couple has super powers, but the film does seem to suggest that. Not only do they teleport around, the old lady, played by Mia Goth, seems to be everywhere at the same time, but they also perform kills on people half their age who are much more physically fit than them that can only be explained away by them possessing super strength, and pitch perfect accuracy.

On a more serious note a lot of people have lorded this film as a loving homage to exploitation horror flicks of the past, with Texas Chainsaw Massacre being an often made comparison. However, I think this film wishes it could be like those films rather than it actually being like them or is in anyway a homage. To me at least, it was a deeply generic slasher film that has been done a hundred times before and also much better than this, if that is what homage means then I have had the wrong definition all these years.

I will give the film prompts for its odd cult like religious elements they were by far the most interesting part of the film, but were explored nowhere near enough- hopefully the prequel can readdress them in more detail.

West tries to push the boundaries by including quite graphic sex scenes, but this just comes off as desperate and gimmicky. Bear in mind in a world cinema context these scenes are nothing and are practically puritanical, however within the deeply conservative world of Hollywood sex scenes these are challenging, and will leave you feeling more than a little awkward if you watch them in company.

Overall, a passable slasher film, but in no way deserving of the praise it has gotten.

Pros.

It is watchable

The gore is strong

I liked the religious cult like elements

Cons.

The sex scenes feel desperate

It is very generic

It has significant pacing issues

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Killing Old Women Through The Power Of Social Justice

1.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Hollywood just can’t seem to let a franchise die and as such we get this.

Before watching I had heard bad things about this film, but it managed to exceed my negative expectations.

Firstly, the characters are all annoying as hell, they are clearly a caricature of the young social justice crowd judging everyone and act as though everyone who is not as comfortably suburban and middle class as them is a racist bumpkin. Honestly, if I were a southern American person I would find this film offensive.

Adding to this the film decides it is going to rip off the plot of the rebooted Halloween from a few years back and brings back the series original final girl, played by Olwen Fouere, for a fight with big bad Leatherface, played by Mark Burnham. There is no point in doing this as not only is it blatant plagiarism, but also the actor who played the final girl in every other one of her appearances is dead, so without looking it up you don’t know who Fouere is supposed to be.

The only good aspect of this film is that they don’t hold back on the gore and Leatherface is able to run wild, as such we get quite a few nice gnarly images with good effects work.

Overall, the forced social commentary nearly kills the film straight off, but then when it decides to rip off its better you know The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise is officially dead.

Pros.

The gore

A few unintentional laughs

Cons.

The social commentary

The deeply unlikeable characters

Ripping off Halloween

The ending  

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Scream 2022: Death Brings New Life

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Ghostface is back this time playing by the rules of legacy sequels.

Spoilers

In many respects this film is the best in the Scream series, it nails the tone between scares and laughs and manages to do both fairly well, it has interesting new characters that you end up caring about, and it does something meaningful with the legacy characters.

However, then you get to the third act and the film loses its way and loses several points from me. My first issue with the final was that it is incredibly obvious from the jump who the killers are, the film does little to subvert that and it all plays out exactly how you imagined it would. Secondly, the motivation for why the killer kills, that of them being basically an incel fan who can’t cope with changes to the franchise and so has to try and make his own film, the series of murders, in order to set it right felt insulting to me. I understand it may have been tongue in cheek but to me it came across as the film flashing the fans the finger, which shouldn’t be something the new franchise reviver film sets out to do.

If you put the third act in a box and ignore it then the film is much better. I enjoyed how the film developed Dewey, played by David Arquette, and gave him a fitting heroes’ death, though I think Gale, played by Courtney Cox, would have been a better fit for that plot beat. Speaking off this was the first time in the series I really bought the emotional connection between Gale and Dewey and I thought both actors brought a lot to their respective performances.

Overall, I would say a nice end for the franchise but we all know it won’t be the last film.  

Pros.

Bringing back Skeet Ulrich

Dewey

The new characters

Managing to be both funny and scary

Cons.

The incel fan motivation

It is too obvious

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Scream 4: A Reboot To Mock Reboots

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Sidney Prescott, played by Neve Campbell, is now on a book tour trying to help other victims of violence when of course there is yet another Ghostface copycat, this time one obsessed with reboots.

I think of the four films so far this one is my favourite. I thought much like the last film in the series this one manages to nail both the comedy/spoof elements and the slasher horror well. I found myself laughing at the comedy for the first time in the series which was nice as to this point it either left me indifferent or annoyed.

I thought this film finally redeemed Gale, played by Courtney Cox, and finished the character work the last film set up. For so long in the series Cox had the short end of the stick as she was cast as a character who was annoying at best trite at worst, and here she finally becomes the star of the show and probably the best character in the film. Though that honour is contested as there are a number of young stars that give Cox a run for her money, mainly Hayden Panettiere’s Kirby who stole the show in nearly every scene she was in.

In terms of negatives I didn’t like that the film continued the annoying random first kill trope, but not only continued it expanded it out, made it last longer and was even more smug with it. I don’t find this bit funny, rather I find it tedious and it makes me want to skip through until it is over.

Furthermore, Emma Roberts is really quite uninspired here, she plays the same character she always plays the sassy outsider, who normally turns out to have a heart of gold but here turns out to be the killer. She doesn’t seem like she is trying and honestly her character gets way too much screen time for how poor of a job she is doing.

Overall, again the franchise continues to get better.

Pros.

Some good jokes

I liked the ending

Gale is finally fully redeemed

Panettiere

Cons.

The opening stab montage

Roberts

Pacing issues

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Scream 3: Leave Sidney’s Mum Alone

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A new Ghostface emerges on the set of a film about the Woodsboro murders, and of course the gang has come back together to deal with it.

I actually think of the trilogy this is the best. Mainly this is because the film finally seems able to manage its meta commentary and genre stand ups, with good tension and even frightening moments. No longer does the film feel like a parody film.

I also like the character progression here. Neve Campbell’s Sidney finally seems to have learnt something from her previous run ins with killers and is now a deadly force in her own right, I particularly like the scene where it looked like she died but it was a fake out and for a moment she became the slasher. I thought the second film really let Sidney down as it did not advance her character very much at all, however this film does a good job of it. In addition Gale, played by Courtney Cox, has finally seemed to learn the consequences of using people and is humbled here. Again I think this film does a nice job of showing her character growth and her ending feels earned.

Despite the good character work the film also did a number of things I didn’t like. Firstly it continues the trend of featuring a meaningless first kill that is always really drawn out and features a deeply forgettable character trying to mimic Drew Barrymore in the first film. Secondly it introduces these strange trippy elements regarding who Sidney’s mum was and, because of course, her secret life, to me this just felt like desperate padding to find something new they could do with the franchise.

Overall, better but it still has a ways to go.

Pros.

The character work

A fitting end

Sidney the Slasher

Cons.

Everything to do with Sidney’s mum

The drawn out opening kill

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Chucky: An Affair To Dismember

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The forces of good and evil do battle in a conflict to determine the fate of the Child’s Play universe.

For the most part this was the best episode of the series by far, only in one regard was I left wanting.

I enjoyed the stakes and thought the finale felt genuinely tense throughout, all of the characters on both sides of the fight had moments to shine, particularly Tiffany, played by Jennifer Tilly. It is an interesting direction for the series to go in having Tiffany break away from Chucky, played by Brad Dourif, and head out on her own to do evil. I hope season two continues to explore the fallout of this decision.

The series actually made me care about the teen characters despite moments in the early episodes were they seemed awful, which is no mean feat. By the end of the episode I was fully bought into their struggles and traumas and would like to see them recur within the wider Child’s Play universe.

Now to the negative.

The thing I didn’t like about the finale was how they handled Andy, played by Alex Vincent, and Kyle, played by Christine Elise. Basically, the last few episode went out of their way to build up both of these recurring characters however when it actually came to it in the finale they were given very little to do. Andy gets a few scenes and saves the day in the end but doesn’t have much of a meaningful showdown with Chucky and Kyle is apparently killed off screen…. Yes that’s right a fan favourite character is killed off screen. I hope, I really do, that the second season shows that she is still alive.

Overall, a mostly great finale with only the Andy Kyle stuff feeling underwhelming.

Pros.

Being invested in the teen characters

Chucky and Tiffany

Good stakes

The body count scene at the end

Cons.

Andy and Kyle deserved a bigger role in the finale

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Chucky: Twice The Grieving, Double The Loss

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The kids reel after a series of deaths, meanwhile Junior, played by Teo Briones, turns to the dark side.

In many ways this week feels like a build up to the finale, which isn’t necessarily a complaint as there are still a lot of fun moments here. This episode seems to be concerning itself with setting up all the pieces for the final showdown and what a show down it will be.

For the most part this episode is strong, a lot of good moments probably the best of these being Logan’s, played by Devon Sawa, death as it is brutal and memorable and will be one of the defining moments of the series for sure. Moreover, there is another excellent flashback wherein we get to see Fiona Dourif look eerily like her dad and nail the performance once again.

However, this episode is held back from a higher rating by two stupid narrative the decisions. The first being Andy, played by Alex Vincent, deciding to leave his adoptive sister, played by Christine Elise, behind and go on alone. It makes no sense why he would do this; the show wants us to believe he is doing this as a means to protect her yet he brought her back into this world in the previous films so he was fine with endangering her then. It just seems like you would want all hands on deck for the final showdown, no doubt she will conveniently show up. The other being Devon, played by Bjorgvin Arnarson claiming to be done and giving up, only to a few minutes later be back investigating again. This to me just felt pointless and like needless drama to pad out the runtime of the episode.

Overall, good but not great.

Pros.

Logan’s end

Another strong flashback scene

Fiona Dourif

The ending and what it sets up

Cons.

Dumb decisions.  

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Chucky: Cape Queer

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The gang realise Chucky, voiced by Brad Dourif, is going to be harder to kill then they thought. Meanwhile series main character Andy, played by Alex Vincent, returns to the fray.

I think now that the series has all its pieces together it is really going places, I am excited to see where this series will take us and how that will in turn effect the wider Child’s Play universe. Hopefully we will get one hell of a showdown between Chucky, Tiffany, played by Jennifer Tilly, a possessed Nica, played by Fiona Dourif, and the forces of good in the final few episodes of the series.

I think Fiona Dourif is quickly becoming the star of this series. I forgot in my review of last weeks episode to talk about just how good of a job this series does of having her play the role of Chucky, in human form, in the eighties. They make her look so much like her dad it is a little eerie, the resemblance is uncanny. Moreover, on top of that Dourif also really excels in the role and really nails the mannerism.  I would say she is better used in the flashbacks then in the present day scenes as she is given less to do in those.

Additionally, outside of Nica I also think the series finally seems to have a handle on who these new characters are and what it wants to do with them, as in previous weeks they have verged on annoyance, but here they seem to be well used and contributing.

Overall, the series is getting even better as it progresses.

Pros.

Fiona Dourif

The threat

The coming showdown

Andy is back

The series finally knows what to do with the new characters

Cons.

Fiona Dourif isn’t given much to do in the non-flashback scenes, she deserves more screen time.

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Nobody Sleeps In The Woods Tonight 2: Who Wanted A Mutant Romance Arc

1.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

After the summer camp massacre the Polish police force goes in to investigate only to become terrorised by a new mutant.

There was no need for this sequel. I enjoyed the first film to a point it did not set the world on fire and had a fair number of issues but it had its moments, this on the other hand runs out of steam after about an hour and then you are just left with its rather obvious efforts to kill time.

Continuing on the theme of things no one asked for this film diverts attention away from the big battle of the third act by having a mutant romance and sex scene. Now who thought this was a good idea? To have the cops basically defeated within the second act was a terrible decision, it then left a huge gap that needed to be filled in the film’s run time and this is what they did with it for reasons known only to those that made this film. Not only does this romance arc drag on but it amounts to nothing. Making matters worse it runs out of time before it can give us the showdown between the special forces and the mutants the whole film has been teasing out, instead just showing the special forces capturing them. To say it is anticlimactic is an understatement.

Hopefully this series is dead and there won’t be a third film.

Overall, whoever decided to include the mutant romance single handily derailed this film.

Pros.

The opening is neat

The first act has promise

Cons.

The battle scene is over too quickly and at the wrong part of the film

The terrible romance plot

An underwhelming ending

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Chucky: Little Little Lies

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The kids do battle with Chucky, voiced by Brad Dourif, and think that they have killed him how wrong they are.

I enjoyed that this episode brought back not just Tiffany, played by Jennifer Tilly, but also Nica, played by Fiona Dourif. It is nice to see the series tying into the wider Child’s Play universe hopefully we will also get the return of other characters from previous films as well.

I thought Fiona Dourif did a terrific job of playing a possessed Nica, she was both chilling and also endearing when she momentarily broke free. I am interested to see where the series is going to take her and see how she will become a bigger part of the narrative- I have high hopes.

I thought that this felt like a very middle of the road sort of episode, it was nice to see the kids get there moment of victory even if we all knew that it was never going to last as there is always another doll body for Chucky. However, it was nicer still when all hell broke loose during the assembly and everyone learnt things were far from over.

Overall, a strong episode with a lot to love for fans of the franchise, maybe a little slow in parts but great for the most part.

Pros.

Brining back Nica and Tiffany

Fiona Dourif

The wider Child’s Play universe

The ending

Cons.

A little slow in parts, the parent’s storylines are just not interesting

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