“The Nightmare Before Christmas” Theatrical Release Review

Plot:

Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, decides to spread Christmas joy to the world. But his well-meaning mission unwittingly puts Santa Clause in jeopardy and creates a nightmare for all good little boys and girls everywhere! Who will save Christmas? (Ben Fancher IMDB)

Critique:

I remember the first time I saw “The Nightmare Before Christmas” was the summer of 2014 (ironic, I know) and I remember absolutely adoring it ever since. Now there’s been, naturally, a debate whether this is a Halloween or a Christmas movie… my input is that it can be both. My tradition has been to watch this film every Christmas because I’ve never been able to watch this on Halloween, until this year.

Well, I guess October 26 is close enough to Halloween. Originally I wasn’t going to do this review because I felt like there wasn’t going to be much input I could provide on here that I couldn’t already tell you from the 5 other viewings I’ve had of this film, but alas, by popular demand I’m doing this review to also add my theater experience to this review.

The stop-motion style of this movie is top notch, and it’s incredible that it still holds up even after its 1993 release. The thing I noticed about it on the big screen, rather than the small screen that I’m used to, is you can see more details on the characters, including rips and tears in the clothes.

The score in this movie is so good, that I actually own it on iTunes, but the sound quality is much better in the theater, the bass is boosted, and you can hear every individual instrument all around you. The musical parts seem natural, and it helps the exposition of the film as it goes along. “This is Halloween” Kidnap the Sandy Claws” “Oogie Boogie’s Song” and “Finale/ Reprise” are still my favorite songs off the score, and it was neat to be able to hear them and gage some of the audience reactions to see which songs they liked.

Grade:

This is probably the most predictable review I’ve done, but since y’all wanted it y’all got it.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” is in my top 3 all-time favorite Tim Burton films along with “Edward Scissorhands” and “Beetlejuice” so this is already going to get a good grade.

I haven’t been able to see this in 3D yet, so until then it’s a 9/10 or an A.

Halloween (2018) Review

Plot Synopsis:

It’s been 40 years since Laurie Strode survived a vicious attack from crazed killer Michael Myers on Halloween night. Locked up in an institution, Myers manages to escape when his bus transfer goes horribly wrong. Laurie now faces a terrifying showdown when the masked madman returns to Haddonfield, Ill. — but this time, she’s ready for him. (Google)

Critique:

Out of all the iconic slasher characters, Michael Myers has always scared me the most because of several factors of the character: the blank expressionless mask followed by the heavy breathing, how much of a giant he is, and the fact that you have no idea if he’s entirely human. Michael seems to have no real motive, and he’ll sit right up from a gunshot like The Undertaker and Kane- and the mysterious, unknown nature of the character has always frightened me. In this film, Michael Myers retains some of those same traits, but the film humanizes him a bit- he can still be wounded, but he’s like an uncaged animal- and if you wound him and corner him enough, he becomes even more dangerous than he already was. I also have to mention that the design of his mask in this film is incredible, it’s been aged and worn out to give it a gritty, grizzled look that works for this iteration of the character. Another cool thing is you never get a clear look at Myers’ face, you’ll get a profile, a close up of the side of his face, and shots of his glassy, dead looking eyes, and it leaves it to your imagination to fill in the blanks.

Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode, and the way her character is portrayed is a breath of fresh air. Obviously she would be traumatized because of the near-fatal encounter she had with Michael in 1978, but that event has traumatized her so much that she’s become a walking embodiment of PTSD, and this trauma doesn’t just affect her- it affects her relationship with her family. Michael has gotten to Laurie in such a psychological way, that Laurie is alienated by her family due to her paranoia.

Another thing I like about this movie is John Carpenter’s score. It still retains the classic vibe of the 1978 film, but it’s been revamped in a modern way using electronic synths and violins, and an interesting thing to note is Carpenter’s son helped write the soundtrack with him.

Something I have to mention is the fact that there are some false jump scares, which is a modern horror trope that gets on my nerves, but there’s enough real genuine horror moments that outweigh those few moments I was annoyed at. Another thing that normally bugs me is when characters conveniently lose IQ points whenever they’re chased by the antagonist, but I won’t really hold that against the film because it honestly feels like it’s embracing that trope of the slasher franchise.

One thing I will hold against this film, however, is that flat ending this film delivers. Look, I know that the original film didn’t necessarily have the most concrete ending either, and this is obviously a tribute to that film, but the reason why this one is inexcusable to me is the fact that they zoom in on a character holding a knife… and that’s where they cut to credits. That frustrated me, because what am I supposed to take away from an ending like that?

I appreciate that this film wipes away the other movies in the franchise, and it makes Michael scary again, but that flat ending bugged the hell out of me, and you lose points for that.

Grade:

Halloween (2018) is definitely going to make fans of the Halloween franchise happy, and there’s no doubt it’ll do well in the box office, but the biggest critique of mine is that ending.

So, I have no choice but to give this film a 8.5/10 or a B+

To get the full experience: watch the original film and listen to the song “Stabbing in the Dark” by Ice Nine Kills, and you’ll be all set to see this movie!

“The Haunting of Hill House” REVIEW| A Netflix Original Horror Series

Plot Synopsis:

Flashing between past and present, a fractured family confronts haunting memories of their old home and the terrifying events that drove them from it. (Netflix)

Critique:

Normally on my blog I’ll do reviews for theatrical releases, however in rare cases I’ll review Straight To DVD Titles (case in point, see my review of “Batman Ninja”) and with something like Netflix’s “The Haunting of Hill House” I feel so profoundly to talk about this series, because this HAS to be talked about!

As many of you may know, I’m a huge fan of horror- I practically grew up on horror because my grandmother would let me watch old black and white horror films whenever I visited her. And for a while now, I haven’t really seen anything that had caused me the same terror as those movies did where I had to leave the lights on before I’d go to bed…. that is, until this series.

So, what makes this series so scary? For me, what makes this show incredibly terrifying, and downright horrifying is the blend of the supernatural along with the very real issues this family is plagued with both while living in the house, and even after leaving it. The house, we later find out, is very much a character itself and the impact it has on the family inhabiting it is very sinister. Some members of the Crane family do very dangerous stuff to themselves as a way to cope with what happened in the house, other members exploit it as a way to make a career. So yes, the ghosts, ghouls, and malevolent spirits are terrifying- but the scariest thing is the fact that this haunted house has tore apart this family in a truly tragic way.

The one thing this show definitely nails is the atmosphere, it makes you feel like you’re actually a resident in this haunted house. Another neat touch is if you pay close enough attention, you’ll see some specters lurking in the darkest corners of the house. Another thing that really helps build the atmosphere is the score in the series, it definitely sets the mood. Something else that this series does is produce horrifying images that will forever be burned into your brain, so if the atmosphere and mood doesn’t affect you, the disturbing visuals definitely will!

Another thing I like is, just like in the movie “Oculus”, this show jumps from the past to the present, back and forth in time almost seamlessly. Some people may have a problem with this, but for me it’s a great way to connect certain events together… one significant event being the reveal of The Bent Neck Lady’s identity, which got the biggest reaction from me.

Now while there are a few false jump scares (sorry, I gotta mention it) there’s still plenty of very real moments of terror to keep you gripped to your seat.

Grade:

This is honestly one of the most terrifying shows I’ve seen in a while, and it’s definitely more effective than something like “The Nun” that I’ve seen this year- so I have no choice but to give “The Haunting in Hill House” a 10/10 or an A+. If you’re a fan of horror, you NEED to watch this series!

“Venom” Movie Review

Plot Synopsis:

Journalist Eddie Brock is trying to take down Carlton Drake, the notorious and brilliant founder of the Life Foundation. While investigating one of Drake’s experiments, Eddie’s body merges with the alien Venom — leaving him with superhuman strength and power. Twisted, dark and fueled by rage, Venom tries to control the new and dangerous abilities that Eddie finds so intoxicating. (Google)

Critique:

Venom is an interesting character because of his relationship with Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man- and it’s a shame because this movie didn’t seem to care about that fact.

I’m gonna start off with the positives… don’t worry, it won’t take me long. The movie is shot well, Tom Hardy seemed passionate about this character, and the relationship between Eddie and the Symbiote is interesting.

Now let me talk about the problems this movie has:

First off- SONY, you have a Spider-Man problem, you need counseling. SONY seems so dead-set on making movies that are Spider-Man related, and it’s painfully transparent that they fail every time they have something Spidey related. I also find it hilarious that they put ‘In association with Marvel’ in the opening credits twice, you think you’re being clever- but I see through it.

The tone of the movie is all over the place: it doesn’t know whether it wants to be a horror, a comedy, or a superhero film and because of this, the movie seems unbalanced and unfocused.

Some of the dialogue in this film goes from either being decent, to being goofy, to just being plain awful. When I found out the screenwriter also wrote the “50 Shades of Grey” series, I wasn’t shocked, because those films are infamous for having bad dialogue.

The CGI in this film is pretty spotty in some scenes, especially in the huge fight scene between Venom and Riot, that scene in particular I couldn’t tell what the hell was going on because of the CGI mess and the poor editing- speaking of which…

The editing is all over the place in this film, you can definitely tell this thing has been through the cutting room a bunch of times.

The final problem I have with this film is something during the mid-credit scene…

Woody Harrelson plays a pretty important Venom character, but they put a wig on this man, and it looks awful- it honestly looks like they put a red chia pet on his head, and I busted out laughing when I saw that.

Consensus:

“Venom” suffers from being a mediocre superhero film that has tonal issues, poor dialogue, and that PG-13 rating killed this film. Venom is a violent character, and the R rating would’ve helped establish it as a dark, gritty film.

Honestly, this film seems like the knock-off movie to “Upgrade” which came out earlier this year, and was a way better film for having a smaller budget. Venom describes his movie perfectly: an armless, legless, faceless thing rolling down the street- like a turd in the wind.

“Venom” get a 6/10 or a D.

“Hell Fest” Movie Review

Synopsis:

“On Halloween night, three young women and their respective boyfriends head to Hell Fest — a ghoulish traveling carnival that features a labyrinth of rides, games and mazes. They soon face a bloody night of terror when a masked serial killer turns the horror theme park into his own personal playground” (Google).

Review:

When I saw the trailer to this movie on FaceBook, I was intrigued because I thought the concept of a serial killer hunting down teenagers, or in this case-college students, was a cool idea. But this film isn’t just a cool concept- it honestly feels like an homage, or even a love letter to the 1990’s era of slasher films like “Scream”. I like the fact that the beginning of the film felt like a party when the group is having fun at this horror themed festival, but as soon as they realize the very real danger they’re in… the movie becomes suspenseful, and somewhat uncomfortable.

I also like the fact that the serial killer, who isn’t given a name, feels like Micheal Myers in the way that he’s treated like a force of nature instead of a human being. The mask the killer uses is cool and it also serves a purpose of letting him blend in. Another cool fact I like about the killer is that they give you subtle hints at what his motivation could possibly be, and even at the end- the movie makes you come up with you’re own interpretation.

I thought the group of college kids played their roles well, there weren’t any nonsensical cliques amongst the group like the slutty chick or the dumb jock… they felt like real college kids. I felt each person amongst the group had a chance to shine.

Grade:

“Hell Fest” doesn’t really do anything new with the slasher genre, but it uses the DNA of the genre extremely well, and if you’re a fan of horror- I’d suggest giving it a watch. It feels like a good companion piece to films like “Halloween” “Scream” and “Friday the 13” so with all that being said, I’m going to give “Hell Fest” a 9/10 or an A.

Like I said, it doesn’t do anything new with the genre, but it’s a lot of fun and it feels like going into a horror amusement without having to physically be there.

“The Nun” Movie Review

Synopsis:

When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together, they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of a demonic nun. (Google)

Analysis:

When I first heard that they were making a movie about the Marilyn Manson Nun from “The Conjuring 2” I will admit, I scoffed at the idea, and for about 30 minutes of this film- I was about to eat my words.

This film started off dark, grisly, and a bit frightening. The tone started off great early in the film and it seemed like this movie was going into a RPG direction which was something I thought was cool. The director, Corin Hardy (known for directing the Irish/ Scottish creature feature film “The Hallow”) did a good job with setting up the dark mood of the film, especially with the gothic looking Church abbey that most of the film is set in. But right as I was about to apologize, the film started to explore the abbey and said “Well, looks like our job here is done.” To which I replied with “Wait, what? Oh no. Oh no! OH GOD THIS FILM IS FALLING APART!”

My real problems with this film is: for starters, this film seems like a step down for the director, the scares are too telegraphed to be truly frightening, and the only character I can connect with is the character Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) because he seemed to be the smartest character in comparison. Another thing that disappointed me was the fact that I felt like Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga, best known for the television series “American Horror Story”) felt wasted to me. And the last thing that bothered me was the fact that The Nun, the thing that’s selling the movie, doesn’t show up until the third act of the film- so for the rest of the movie, we deal with ghosts, and henchmen of The Nun… So, I honestly feel bad if that’s your only reason to watch the film because that Nun is the most Prima Donna demon I’ve ever seen in a film.

So, this further proves my point that this movie was unnecessary to me, because we already got The Nun’s story in “The Conjuring 2”. The movie I honestly wanted was a movie for The Crooked Man, because in “The Conjuring 2” we only got a nursery rhyme and a cameo from him… so if we get one more movie in The Conjuring Universe, it better be for my boy, The Crooked Man!

Grade:

“The Nun” is a step above the first “Annabel” movie, but that’s a low bar to leap over… so this is one of the weaker films in The Conjuring Universe and since I don’t have to hold back, I’m giving this film a 4/10 or an F.

If you really want The Nun, be my guest- but I’d personally suggest just watching “The Conjuring 2”.

“Searching” Movie Review | A desktop narrative done right

Synopsis:

After David Kim (John Cho)’s 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a local investigation is opened and a detective is assigned to the case. But 37 hours later and without a single lead, David decides to search the one place no one has looked yet, where all secrets are kept today: his daughter’s laptop. In a hyper-modern thriller told via the technology devices we use every day to communicate, David must trace his daughter’s digital footprints before she disappears forever.

Analysis:

After seeing “Unfriended: The Dark Web”, I was worried about my enjoyability of this film- and seeing that SONY was involved in this didn’t help calm down my fears, but after seeing this movie I gotta say… this is a pretty solid film.

A question I asked myself during this film is this: did this film have to use this format? Could this story be told in the conventional method? And the answer is… sure it could’ve been done in the normal style of film making, but I don’t think it would’ve had the same impact it had with the style the filmmakers chose.

The reason why this style works is because this is a detective/ mystery film that unravels information in the moment, in motion. And getting the info this way felt very realistic to me. As the story continues and as you get more information, you’re gripping the edge of your seat because you’re genuinely concerned for the well being of the characters, because the biggest triumph of this film is getting you emotionally invested in the characters. These characters feel like real human beings, and they have clear goals and motivations. The scariest thing about this film is making you realize that you may think you know someone, but the cold hard truth is you only know a small portion of who that person really is… and that’s something that sticks with you even after the film concludes.

There are a couple of red herrings in this film that add to the drama. When you unravel what happened, everything starts to make sense, and the ending is emotionally satisfying. Basically, the payoff is great to this film, unlike “Dark Web” where the only payoff we get after being with these ‘characters’ is the main character getting run over by a car (sorry spoiler, but only if that’s the ending you get- which unfortunately I got.) So going forward, whenever I see another film in this style, I’m gonna compare it to this film.

Grade:

This film could’ve easily been terrible, but because it was in competent hands and John Cho carries the film excellently, this film rises above the initial fears I had and delivers an excellent film. I can’t really think of any problems I had with the film without it seeming like I’m just nitpicking, so I’m actually gonna give this film (for the first time ever) a 10/10 or the grade of an A.

“Slenderman” Movie Review

Plot:

Small-town best friends Hallie, Chloe, Wren and Katie go online to try and conjure up the Slender Man — a tall, thin, horrifying figure whose face has no discernible features. Two weeks later, Katie mysteriously disappears during a class trip to a historic graveyard. Determined to find her, the girls soon suspect that the legend of the Slender Man may be all too real.

Review:

I’m going to be honest, I had very low hopes for this film- but I can’t lie, the beginning of this film was set up pretty well- after that, that’s when we start getting into the problems of this movie.

Oh, and I will be doing a bit of a spoiler talk after I give my grade, because the ending is so incredibly stupid, I HAVE to spoil it. So there’s your warning before you start yelling at me.

So, let’s start with the good stuff: the atmosphere is pretty good. They did a good job of making the woods creepy, and the sound design was good. There’s certain shots where if you pay attention, you can see things move in the background…. and that’s about it.

None of the characters are really likable, on top of that, some of them make dumb choices. For example, when summoning Slenderman, you’re supposed to keep your eyes closed and not look at him, but what does one of the girls do? She looks at him, because why wouldn’t she?! When one of the friends of the main character tries to explain to her that Slenderman is real, and can prove it- the main chick blows her off because she has a date with some dude…. Your friend is clearly under duress, but you’re more concerned about some boy you like? You’re an awful friend.

Speaking of Slenderman, the design of the character is awful… first they tried scenes with CGI, then they tried practical, and just went back to CGI, and none of it worked.

But the main issue of this film is it becomes a generic horror film that abandons the atmosphere it created to instead rely on visuals that we’ve seen a thousand times from much better horror movies- like “The Ring” for example.

Another thing I could tell is this film was cut a bunch of times because this movie felt very incomplete to me. There’s definitely scenes missing, especially from the first trailer- which showed a girl stabbing her eye out, and a girl ripping her tongue out. And there’s apparently a subplot involving the main character being in Track that’s never really fleshed out other than mentioning trophies, or the girl being interested in Track than helping her friend.

Grade:

The real shame is that this film could’ve very well had potential, but classic SONY- that potential gets thrown into the trash can, because risky films apparently don’t equal money.

I had just recently read an article about how this film was gonna be darker, but SONY stopped that after the film’s release got backlash from the father of a child who stabbed her classmate 19 times in 2014 after trying to summon Slenderman (https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2018/01/03/slender-man-movie-reactions/1002527001/) so this was pretty much DOA.

So with that being said, I’m giving Slenderman a 6/10 or a D. It was generic and boring- and I was alone in the theater, it’s a miracle I didn’t end up falling asleep.

**SPOILER ALERT**

So, here’s the way the movie ended, for those of you who want to know:

After the main character realizes that sacrificing what they love isn’t enough to stop Slenderman, she goes into the woods and tells Slenderman to take her. Slendy turns into a spider-like creature and she starts running away, only to be sucked into a horrible looking CGI Slenderman tree (I’m not even kidding) this is followed up by a voice over of the main character’s sister telling the audience that there’s always a pattern, and that “he drives people to do crazy things, ya know?”

There, that’s an hour and a half of time I saved you- you’re welcome!

Mission Impossible: Fallout

Plot:

Ethan Hunt and the IMF team join forces with CIA assassin August Walker to prevent a disaster of epic proportions. Arms dealer John Lark and a group of terrorists known as the Apostles plan to use three plutonium cores for a simultaneous nuclear attack on the Vatican, Jerusalem and Mecca, Saudi Arabia. When the weapons go missing, Ethan and his crew find themselves in a desperate race against time to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.

Review:

It’s rare for me to watch a movie where I’m so engrossed by what I’m watching, that I’m actually gripping my seat out of nervousness… and that’s honestly the biggest compliment I can give this film.

This is the sixth installment of the Mission Impossible franchise, and this is probably one of the darkest films in the series, there’s a lot of twist and turns, and you have no idea who to trust in this film.

The characters in this movie are more human than they’ve ever been in the previous two films in my opinion because there’s consequences for every action, and a situation that you’re normally prepared for gets more complicated whenever a small detail is overlooked, or not thought of ahead of time.

Speaking of characters, I really liked Henry Cavill’s character, August Walker- because he’s the polar opposite of Tom Cruise’s character, Ethan Hunt. Ethan Hunt prefers to be more covert, and stealthy- and if August isn’t punching something, he’s not interested in it. He’s aggressive, dangerous, and once he’s made his mind up on something, he doesn’t let anything deviate him from his goal.

The reason why I gripped my seat so much in this film was because most of the action was done practically by the actors, especially Tom Cruise- who has made this gimmick of his an attraction to see the films… so when you see someone jumping off roofs, planes, and motorcycles, it’s very nerve-racking to watch knowing that it’s the actors, and not stunt people doing this.

The only problem I had with this movie was I wasn’t feeling the villain in this film… to be honest though, I don’t think any of the other villains can be as good as Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Mission Impossible 3.

Grade:

I had a lot of fun in this film, and if you’ve enjoyed any of the MI films (except Mission Impossible 2, we don’t talk about that film) then I think you’ll enjoy it too!

I’m giving “Mission Impossible: Fallout” a 8.5/10 or a B+

“Ant Man & The Wasp” Movie REVIEW

Plot:

Scott Lang is grappling with the consequences of his choices as both a superhero and a father. Approached by Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym, Lang must once again don the Ant-Man suit and fight alongside the Wasp. The urgent mission soon leads to secret revelations from the past as the dynamic duo finds itself in an epic battle against a powerful new enemy.

Review:

Coming off the cusp of Infinity War, I knew this film was gonna be more light-hearted, especially with how Infinity War ended… I think everyone needed a laugh.

Paul Rudd once again does an amazing job as Scott Lang, AKA Ant Man, and it helps that he has the demeanor of a good buddy of yours who occasionally screws something up.

Hope AKA The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) is once again another badass female character in a Marvel movie, but what makes her character special is the fact that she’s in tune with the technology in the movie better than Scott, and shows him his true potential, if he wasn’t always messing up.

There’s two villains in this movie: Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) and Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) Sonny was just a typical thug villain, and Ghost was the villain I enjoyed the most. She’s a sympathetic villain that isn’t exactly doing the right thing, but you understand where she’s coming from once you learn her backstory- plus it doesn’t hurt that the actress playing the character is insanely attractive to me.

One of the highlights of this film to me is the interaction between Hank Pym (Micheal Douglas) and Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) because those are two character that absolutely hate each other, and seeing the roast-fest was highly entertaining to me.

Now comes one of the negatives in this film that I didn’t address, Michael Peña, I have no gripe against him personally- but his character in this film annoyed the hell outta me. I know he’s supposed to be the comic relief, but cracking bad puns and hollering at the top of his lungs isn’t funny to me- if you can tolerate his character, then you’re a stronger person than me.

Another issue I had with the film is the fact that if there’s so shrinking of growing in this film- then there’s nothing really going on with the film.

Now, listen to me because I’m trying to help you here…. there’s two post-credit sequences in this film. The FIRST one is the one you’ve been waiting for that helps connect to Infinity War. The SECOND post-credit sequence is something that’s shown in the trailer, and offers nothing to the film. The reason I’m telling you this is because I know your time is precious, and I don’t want you wasting your time on something meaningless.

Grade:

Ant Man isn’t really a superhero that I’m a big fan of but I found myself enjoying it for the film it’s supposed to be, so I’m going to give this film a 7/10 or a C.