Cabin In The Woods: The Old Gods Want Blood

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A group of friends go out to stay in a cabin in the woods, insert Family Guy joke about saying the title of the film, and of course once they get out there things start to go awry.

I am a big fan of this film, minus the pervy Joss Whedon elements but we will get to those, and think that if you are a fan of the slasher genre this is a must watch. There is something so smart and so loving about this film, it both sends up the slasher genre but also revels in its tropey goodness. I think the entire meta reading of this film, as we the audience are the old gods wanting to see our slasher films play out the way they always do is entirely novel and well done.

Likewise the film does a good job of making you care about the characters, with Chris Hemsworth’s character being a delightful revelation. Hemsworth plays the dumb jock but the film goes out of its way to flip that cliché and do something new with it, the same can be said for the rest of the archetypal roles of the slasher. In that regard I thought Kristen Connolly’s Dana made for an excellent final girl and I liked that she failed to prevent the disaster at the end as it made her feel more genuine and real.

Furthermore, as a huge horror fan I got a lot out of the vending machine of monsters scene inside the facility where we were treated to tons and tons of references and homages, it was easily my favourite scene of the film.

Sadly, now we must talk about the issues. A lot of these issues boil down to one thing, camera angles and pervy intent. A lot of the female characters in this film are shot in a way where the camera is often not looking at their faces and is instead looking at other areas, this becomes incredibly transparent as the film goes on. I would like to blame this on Joss Whedon as we know he has a habit of doing this kind of thing from his other work, however Drew Goddard is not above suspicion as well. Regardless it is needless.

Overall, a strong film made stronger if you are a hardcore horror fan.

Pros.

Hemsworth

Connelly

The ending

The vending machine of monsters

Cons.

The perviness

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Halloween: Jamie Lee Curtis’ Birth As A Scream Queen

5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, and other residents of Haddonfield are stalked by a mysterious masked killer.

To me, and this might be a controversial opinion, this is easily John Carpenter’s best film. This is a horror film that is firing on all cylinders and gets every little detail right. I think for me the strongest aspect of this film is it’s score, the composing is masterful and the timings are perfect: the non-diegetic sound here really adds a lot to the film and enhances it.

Moreover, this film does a lot with a little in terms of scares. Unlike the newest instalment in this franchise that has been criticised by some as being too violent and bloody, here there is a minimal amount of actual violence but the threat feels even more intense than it does in Halloween Kills. I believe that is because this film put a greater emphasis on the killer stalking and watching his targets then it does on him actually killing them, the thrill is in the chase after all.

Finally, the cast across the board is superb with Jamie Lee Curtis earning her scream queen status with ease here, her performance is incredible particularly the Boogeyman line after the killers escape at the end.

Overall, a magnificent slasher film and one that still holds up as one of the best.

Pros.

The tension

The threat

Jamie Lee Curtis

The score

The ending

Cons.

None   

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Slashers: The Next Evolution Of Game Shows

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

In a dystopian version of Japan people from around the world compete in a game show called Slashers which pits real people against a series of killers in life or death games for big sums of money.

I enjoyed this film a lot. Many times I think whilst watching horror movies that I have seen it all before and that the genre has nothing left that can surprise me and then I watch something like this and am pleasantly surprised to be wrong.

I felt a strong love of slasher films emanating from this film as well as a love for Japanese culture and horror. Connections can be drawn between this and Battle Royale as the two share a fair bit of common ground.

The thing I liked most about this film was its knowing references to cliches and tropes within the genre, with one character, played by Sofia De Medeiros, going so far as to take her top off as to have better odds of surviving. I liked that the film played with genre and tried to do something fresh with it.

I found the characters to be compelling both contestant and slasher alike, I thought each had just enough personality to make them interesting and make you root for them.

My one complaint of the film would be that its message, who is the real monster those doing the slashing or those at home paying to see it, felt a little trite and played out and the film spends a bit too long on the morality of the genre rather than just aiming to have fun with it.

Overall, a wonderful surprise only slightly let down by a been there done that message.

Pros.

A love of the genre

A strong concept

Fun to watch

Interesting characters

Cons.

The message needs freshening up a bit

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Chucky: Death By Misadventure

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Chucky, Brad Dourif, finds another child, played by Zackary Arthur, to befriend, however things are different to how they were with Andy, played by Alex Vincent, all those years ago.

A lot of people are upset with the LGBTQ+ themes on display here and say that it feels more like a show about homophobia and less about Chucky. To them I say, where have you been this entire franchise? Issues around sexuality have always been central to the Child’s Play universe and this feels like a natural progression of that. Moreover, it allows us to reframe Chucky himself, as traditionally he was just evil, but here he is shown to be sticking up for Arthur’s character as he is being victimised at school- adding further nuance to the character.

I think that is why this first episode worked for me so much and why I am eager to see where the series goes next as this is a very different relationship between child and Chucky than we have seen before. Usually Chucky makes it his mission to either possess or kill the central child/ adult in these films however here he seems to be trying to befriend him, maybe even turning him into a possible apprentice?

Another thing I am thankful for with this series is that they got right to it and had the lead find out about Chucky in the first episode rather than have it drag out into the second or the third episode. I feel that by doing this it allows for the series to move at a better pace.

Overall, a very promising start to the series.

Pros.

The relationship between the lead and Chucky

A new side to Chucky

The kills

Tackling important issues head on

Cons.

The new Chucky redesign takes some getting used to

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Halloween Season Of The Witch: The Horrors Of Children’s TV Advertising Taken To An Extreme

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Taking a drastic departure from Michael Myers, this film explores the efforts of one man, played by Dan O’ Herlihy, to murder children through an elaborate scheme involving flashing adverts and children’s Halloween masks.

Many people dislike this film as it tried to change what the franchise was perceived to be about, however, I think the film is stronger for doing this and in many ways ahead of its time. Furthermore, I think this film has more than enough personality and interesting ideas to be worth merit entirely on in its own right.

That is not to say this is a perfect film. The plot is widely nonsensical, cheesy and silly and whilst this can allow for some enjoyment it also reduces the fear of the film making it less effective as a horror film. I didn’t find myself being scared like I did with the original Halloween whilst watching it.

I thought the acting across the board was fairly strong, with no one letting the side down.

A final thought is that I would like to see the Halloween franchise go back to the idea of anthology as there is a lot that could be done there, I don’t mean have a film filled with little shorts but rather have each subsequent film in the series feature knew characters and ideas but share the same world as those before it. Basically to expand the universe out.

Overall, an interesting film though one that is not in any way scary.

Pros.

The ending

The ideas of Celtic magic

Doing something new

Cons.

It is not scary

There are pacing issues throughout

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Halloween Kills: So What’s The Point Now?

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Michael Myers, James Jude Courtney/ Nick Castle, in once again at large and the town of Haddonfield must really together to bring him down.

I am deeply mixed on this film. First thing I want to get out of the way is that this film is not the over the top gorefest you have been lead to believe by some critics, yes there are some gnarly scenes but it is nothing more than you would expect from a slasher movie.

Before we get into it I just want to put a big old SPOILER WARNING here, be warned that everything following on from this will have spoilers come back after you’ve watched it or keep reading if you don’t care.

So…… The entire Halloween franchise just doesn’t matter now. Michael Myers can never be defeated as he represents humanity’s divide nature, so what’s the point? The film would have been better served to say he is supernatural, but no, it just gives us this preachy trying too hard piece of dialogue instead. Honestly, this film makes me worried for the next one as I don’t think it will be the finale that we have been promised and instead just keep pumping out these ideas of oh Michael can’t die until we love each other more.

In keeping with that another narrative thing I didn’t like here was the mass hysteria or mob justice scene which sees the residents of Haddonfield become so wrapped up in their own fear that they force an innocent and mostly likely mentally handicapted man to kill himself through fear of if he doesn’t he will be ripped apart by the mob. I understand the incredibly on the nose point this film was trying to make, asking the old adage of ‘who is the real monster’ but it rings hollow: mainly because they move on from it incredibly quickly and the ringleader faces very little comeuppance for his role in it.

Despite these screenplay thematic issues there are still some good moments here. I enjoyed seeing Myers do what he does best and just go around slashing, there was some gory fun to be had there. I also thought Jamie Lee Curtis had a lot of fun whenever she was on screen she really sold her performance, though I feel like for her this is vey much a middle film as she doesn’t actually do very much.

Overall, was it worth the wait probably not. We need more good old slasher vibes and less complex meditations on society.

Pros.
Still some old school slasher charm

Carpenter’s score

Curtis

Cons.

The mob justice scene

Having Michael be a metaphor

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Ready Or Not: You Are Going To Lose At Hide And Seek If You Go Around Screaming Constantly

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Grace, Samara Weaving, goes home to meet her boyfriend’s family and get married, little does she know that doing that will lead to her playing a life and death game of hide and seek.

I am mixed on this film; I like aspects and ideas of the film but there is just something about the overall whole that doesn’t work for me. I like the mythology surrounding the game and the climax that sees the family reap the consequences of their actions. If I were to be picky I would say that the film could have gone a bit further with these aspects and given us more information regarding the demon they made the deal with.

I think Samara Weaving is good here though this is not her best role by a large margin. Over the course of the film Weaving grows into the role more and becomes develops into an interesting character, in the beginning when she is just screaming and crying all the time it is quite dull to watch. By the by her scream here is deeply overused to the point of it becoming off putting, sometimes more is less.

The humour of the film produced a few chuckles from me though most of the jokes past me by unfazed. I would say this film is not a horror comedy as it prioritises its horror elements, though that is not a bad thing.

Overall, a good film that feels rough in a few areas.

Pros.

Weaving for the most part

The ending

The mythology

Cons.

The humour mostly passes me by

Weaving’s scream is overused to the point of either hilarity or annoyance depending on the person

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Child’s Play: How Not To Do CGI

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Chucky is reborn in a new world of tech and online interactivity.

This film is a travesty on multiple levels.

To be bluntly honest with you it took me three sittings to finish this film as each time I watched it I couldn’t stand more than about half an hour of it.

The only reason this film has a 1 is because of Aubrey Plaza as the mum, she is great as always, but she could do so, so much better than this. Honestly this film is just so terrible that no matter how good a performance any of the actors give it is quickly overshadowed.

I strongly disliked the new high tech Chucky. I thought the idea of modernising him and drastically changing what his powerset is to be stupid. It felt like a jaded executive being like ‘oh what do young people like today? Lets make him do that’. I think this film truly sullies the character. Both in terms of personality, as they don’t bring back the original voice actor, and in terms of appearance as he now just looks like an awful CGI mess. Nothing against Hamill of course but he can’t hold a candle to Brad Dourif.

Overall, I am glad this film did poorly enough to kill any chances of spawning sequels, this version of Chucky should be taught in writers rooms so that people know what not to do with the character.

Pros.

Plaza

Cons.

The child actor

Everything about Chucky

The story is dumb and convoluted

It does not need to exist

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Candyman: Watch Out For Bee Stings

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Years after the events of the previous films Anthony McCoy, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, learns the legend of Candyman. As the struggling artist learns more about the figure he suddenly finds inspiration, however, he also starts to become haunted by the spector- with Candyman himself having a dark purpose for Anthony.

As I tweeted after I saw this, I think this might be the horror film of the summer. Throughout the entire time I was watching this I had a smile on my face. I loved how this film explored the world and lore of Candyman and expanded upon what we had got from previous movies and furthered this idea of possession. I thought the transformation, was also done really well and I think the make up effects that are used are done in a very convincing way, the wounds look painful.

Moreover, I think DaCosta perfectly manages to capture elements of social commentary and weave them into the horror in such a way that the two feel intimately linked together. The horror certainly works on two levels, both of which propagate the other. I thought the final scene in the police car was particularly effecting and powerful. After seeing this I am very, very excited to see what DaCosta does with the Marvels.

It goes without saying, but those that don’t like films that have political messages and who often complain about things being ‘too woke’ should stay far, far away from this film and let the rest of us enjoy it.

I think the performances across the cast were terrific with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Colman Domingo and Teyonah Parris each giving magnificent turns and really proving what they can do. Each member of the cast brings something different to the table here, but each are valuable and important in their own way.

My one complaint and it is only a small one, as I think this film is pretty marvellous, is that I wish we got more Tony Todd. Todd is a favourite of mine in the horror genre, and we don’t see anywhere as much of him anymore as we used to and that is a crying shame. We only get a brief tease of him here, but his scene is memorable. Maybe he can come back more if this film gets a sequel.    

Overall, simply fantastic, this film restores my hope in these long running horror sagas that we might have another golden age ahead of us rather than the glory days being behind us.

Pros.

The horror

The lore and world building

The message and the emotion

The physical make-up effects

The acting

Cons.

I wish we had more Tony Todd

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Candyman: The Candyman Can

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

I remember watching Candyman Farewell To The Flesh as a child and being scared out of my wits, it was this remembrance that caused me to go back and watch the first film recently and also to prep for the new sequel that is on its way.

So this film feels very unique, in a Clive Barker-esque way. Though Barker didn’t write the film, it is based on one of his stories and he was involved as a producer, this is clear to see as his finger prints are all over this film. Anyone familiar with Barker’s other works will be able to see what I mean; it is something special that is hard to put into words- the plot and style of the film reflect this.

Moreover, this film features one of the all time masters of horror himself: Tony Todd, which in my book is always a bonus point. We don’t get to see a lot of Todd throughout the film, though his presence is felt. However, the few scenes we do have with him are all very strong and he presents the character with a certain otherworldly, ethereal energy that is hard to look away from.

The characters outside of Todd’s villain are all fairly lacklustre, and the story itself is very familiar-especially if you are a genre fan like me.  In my opinion the framing of the lead for Candyman’s crimes was perhaps the weakest part of the film as it has been seen so many times before across the genre and it was entirely predictable.

Overall, strong but not without flaws.

Pros.

Barker’s influence

Tony Todd

The style

Cons.

The lead was very meh

The storyline was predictable and weak   

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