Mr Harrigan’s Phone (2022) Halloween Advent 2022

Rating 12
Length 1h44
Release 05/10/2022
Director John Lee Hancock
About Craig, a young boy, befriends the elderly billionaire John Harrigan. Craig then gives him a mobile phone. However, when the man dies, Craig discovers that he can communicate with his friend from the grave.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Netflix
Trailer:

Trick

  • Since when did the early noughts become so far away that they can be done in flashback. I felt personally attacked at this retrospective narration like it was decades ag…. oh!
  • It’s a very slow burn. From the premise, I didn’t think we’d see much of Donald Sutherland. While there’s no complaints of having the legend on the screen, I do feel as if many audience members would have preferred more of the post-death phone mystery than the character build up.

Treat

  • It certainly tapped into my fears and nightmares. It is atmospheric and chilling, rather than an out and out horror.
  • Jaeden Martell makes not only a strong impression as a lead, but as an actor who is able to portray the character of Craig from teen years into the cusp of adulthood.
  • Donald Sutherland. While it was, I cannot deny, upsetting to see the man so frail, he gave an performance that chilled me to the core. As with many of Stephen King’s characters, there’s an element of ambiguity surrounding them. Mr Harrigan is no exception and Donald Sutherland is able to play the character to a tee.
  • Weirdly, the film gives me Stand by Me and Simon Birch vibes; something which warms the coldness of an October day.
  • Kirby Howell-Baptise is as on-form as ever in her role as the teacher, and mentor, to Craig. I’m actually only sad that while we seem to be getting her in everything at the moment, no one is recognising the talent and giving her a larger, leading, role.

Final Thoughts

All in all a very well made fill, but due to a number of scenes that caused me to recall my own father’s passing I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to.

Studio 666 (2022) Halloween Advent 2022

Rating 18
Length 1h29
Release 12.4.2017
Director Greg McLean (Writer James Gunn)
About An ordinary day at the office becomes a horrific quest for survival when 80 employees (John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona) at the Belko Corp. in Bogotá, Colombia, learn that they are pawns in a deadly game. Trapped inside their building, a voice over an intercom tells the frightened staffers that two workers must be killed within 30 minutes. When another ultimatum follows, friends become enemies and new alliances take shape, as only the strongest will remain alive at the end.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: To purchase on Amazon Prime
Trailer:

Trick

  • The film looses steam about 40 minutes in. The issue being that the first half is solely relying on the charm of Dave Grohl to keep the story moving.
    It eventually delivers what the film needs, scenes without Grohl, but far too late and it feels like a mid-production direction change. It’s a shame because if we got some of those ‘rest of the band’ scenes earlier on, it have shaped up the narrative a little better.
  • In equal measure, the film keeps the rest of the band on the side lines. We see them all drift in and out of scenes, but never without Grohl.
  • The plot is there, and I guess it’s to do with following a protagonist rather than an ensemble, but it just feels like in an attempt to have some mystery the film left the audience behind.

Treat

  • So many brownie points for not making this a ‘found footage’/ documentary movie. It easily could have been the way they made this. I wouldn’t have survived more than five minutes if it was the case.
  • Dave Grohl *is* amazing. I’m sure you’d think, based on above, that I was the opinion he was atrocious. Not in the slightest, he was really good. It’s just that I felt the weight of him carrying the film. The sad thing about it though is that he didn’t have to.
    It’s safe to say that Grohl is awesome, he’s charming and he’s a solid performer. I had a smile on my face for most of the movie.
  • Once the film shifts its focus at around the hour mark, it gets a second wind and we finally see the other members of the band come to the forefront.
  • There is this amazing homage to the Exorcist that I just want framed. It’s not so obvious that everyone and your aunt will get it, but if you know… man, it’s Leo-pointing-at-the-tv brilliant.
  • There’s a blend of both B-movie practical effects and some killer CGI. They’re both used at the right time to keep the films tone and humour.
  • The music. Can I really talk about a Foo Fighters film without the music? It’s all great. There’s some call backs to their discography which I adored. There’s also a pretty decent cameo that I could rewatch for days.
    However, the gem of this film is the theme which is heard during the opening credits. It is incredible. So it should come as no surprise when I tell you that none other than John Fucking Carpenter helped compose that bad boy! be still my heart!

Final Thoughts

When you consider other band attempts at playing themselves for the silver screen, this is light years ahead of any others. As a horror movie goes, however, the camera focuses way too much on Grohl until too late and the casual viewer has all but lost interest.
Make it more of an ensemble and this would be incredible.

Halloween Advent 2022. Bring it On: Cheer or Die (2022)

Rating PG
Length 1h 31
Release 27/09/2022 on dvd and digital 08/10/2022 Syfy broadcast in US
Director Karen Lam
About A cheer squad’s plan to have a secret practice at a nearby abandoned school on Halloween takes a terrifying turn when their teammates begin disappearing one by one.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: N/A
Trailer:

Trick

  • The production value of the franchises seventh outing is rather shocking. While the best is done with what they had, it only makes me wonder what they could have done with a budget closer to the original.
  • It’s a sanitised slasher horror. Due to its PG rating, this horror is devoid of anything that will scare even the yellowest of bellies. Yes, there’s some heavily implied gnarly endings to the characters. However, it doesn’t have the same Hitchcockian impact that the iconic ‘shower scene’ had.
  • The final act is so pointless. It’s almost as if it was only put in to use the franchise name.

Treat

  • It is an easy, super silly, watch. Perfect for anyone who wants Slasher lite. Young ones and squeamish alike will be at ease watching this plot unfold.
  • It’s comical. Both in its deaths and in its dialogue. The actors involved have brilliant timing and saved this film from being a total trash fire.
  • The cheerleading skill really works with the slasher tropes. It worked really well and helped a number of them evade capture.

Final Thoughts

It ticks all the boxes for concept and story. The problem lies with its rating. Treating this outing to a 15 rating really would have brought this slasher to life.

Halloween Advent: My Best Friend’s Exorcism (2022)

Rating 15
Length 1h37
Release 30.09.2007
Director Damon Thomas
About In 1988 best friends Abby and Gretchen navigate boys, pop culture and a paranormal force clinging to Gretchen. With help from a mall exorcist, Abby is determined to compel the demon back to the pits of hell — if it doesn’t kill Gretchen first.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime
Trailer:

Trick

  • It is a slow burn plot. It absolutely pays off, but you have to stick with the set up and some viewers out there today do not have the attention. Especially when you add the fact that this film is not getting a cinema release.
  • Anyone with 80’s nostalgia fatigue would do well to steer clear of this one. Yes, there’s an somewhat timeless tone that would forgive you if you assumed it was modern day with the 80s fashion back in style. However those who are tired of the era being used in every film and tv show since Stranger Things, will perhaps want to pop this to one side.
  • The nighttime scenes are made for a cinema. I lost a lost of the action during those scenes. Combine this with the slow burn, and you might just zone out before it gets good.

Treat

  • This film is Jennifer’s Body meets Fight Night, in all the right ways.
  • The 80s era, the bright colour and pop songs. It all contrasts with the darkness and sinister chill that everyone watching it there to see beautifully.
  • The friendship ups and downs really resinated with me, as I’m sure it will with others. The film tackles some fairly weighty issues that are really quite cleverly approved and resolved.
  • Christopher Lowell is always a joy on a project, but in this case he steals the show. Almost to the point that I wish he was much more involved.
  • The two leads, Elsie Fisher and Amish Miller are one’s to watch. While a slow burn is not my favourite type of film, the two girls and their friendship has me invested from the very start.

Final Thoughts

It’s a decent watch. Perhaps not quite as good as Freaky, but it will certainly give you enough goosebumps to see you through the spooky season.

Spin Me Round (2022)

Rating Unrated in US (UK tbd)
Length 1h44
Release 19.08.2022 in US (UK tbd)
Director Fred Baena
About A woman wins an all-expenses-paid trip to a company’s gorgeous “institute” outside of Florence, and also the chance to meet the restaurant chain’s wealthy and charismatic owner. She finds a different adventure than the one she imagined.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: TBD
Trailer:

The Good

  • When the humour is good, it’s genius. That is mainly thanks to the ever loveable Zach Woods. He’s more like The Office Zach Woods than his Silicon Valley alter ego, but much more likeable than either.
  • Honestly, the only way I tolerated this movie was telling myself it was a GLOW special in which Allison Brie was playing Ruth Wilder playing Amber. The starting music and retro title sequence sold that to me at the start. It allowed a lot of the shoddy to get past me before it was too late.
  • Allison Brie cannot really be faulted. She handles the role really well and makes the wooing as believable as it can be. Her chemistry with Aubrey Plaza?! They really should have just ran with that.

The Bad

  • It’s a very busy film that, with a few tweaks, could have been a grand ensemble. By tweaks, I mean use the characters as more than plot devices. Molly Shannon, for example, goes from Sadness (yes, capitalised for the blue emotion) to wackadoodle for absolutely no apparent reason.
    Yes, sometimes we don’t need to know, but me? Couldn’t keep my mind from screaming “How the fuck was she a manager?” and wondering what like in *that* branch was like.
  • I wish the film started with Amber arriving in Italy. I don’t feel like I learned anything from the opening 15-ish minutes centred around her life. It doesn’t endear me to her any more than casting Allison Brie in the role does.

The Ugly

  • The plot was so haphazard and non existent, I’m pretty certain about 90% of the “script” was improvised. Badly. Painfully.
    No amount of Allison Brie being her amazing self was ever going to save this film that was having a massive identity crisis. The comedy was too cringe inducing and the romance was none existent.
  • The biggest problem for me was the sinister undertones of the first half of the movie. They’re there. They’re under and toney. They’re also underwhelming. I think as an audience, we’re also meant to get swept away by the “romance”.
    It’s really hard to when your watching the protagonist get served to the leading male on a plater. The lack of chemistry doesn’t help. Hell, maybe I’m a cynic, but I was never sold.
  • Finally, what the actual fuck happened to Aubrey Plaza?!
    She just fucks off for the last third of the movie and there’s zero resolution with the character. I hope to the celluloid gods there’s an alternate ending because that is the only way this film can redeem it’s romance genre cred.

Final Thoughts

I think it was trying to be satirical and this decades answer to Office Space, but lost itself in production. Or maybe up the creative’s ass! Either way, it’s nowhere near as clever, or original as it thinks it is.

Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Rating 12a
Length 2h11
Release 27.05.2022
Director Joseph Kosinski
About After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete Mitchell is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime and Paramount+ from 24/08/2022
Trailer:

The Good

  • Miles Teller! There are so many levels of perfect to his casting. As the biological son of Goose, he’s spot on. As the boy who will have been raised by Maverick, he’s got it down. The mannerisms, the anger (that flush! I hope to god that’s real and not some CGI deep-fake shit because I identified with that anger tell so hard) and the chemistry with everyone he worked with was what had me invested.
    The final act had me wishing we’d gotten there sooner and spent the majority of the run time with just him and Cruise.
  • Bashir Sakahuddin’s turn as Hondo was understated and quite possibly my favourite part of the movie. The lines he gets to give out are gold.
  • It is a visually stunning film. The first movie struggled to keep my attention during flight sequences, but this?! There were so many shots I’d hang on a wall.
  • Tom Cruise knows how to entertain. I’m not just talking about his role in this movie as Maverick. He’s probably the only old school “star” able to command a box office. He has a brand and he’s used all his power to get this film made and into the cinema.
  • Val Kilmer and Iceman. Nope, that’s all your getting.
  • That said, my final note must be about Cruise and the character of Maverick. It’s a feat to have a character stay true yet not have washed out by the time we pick up the story 30 years later. Absolutely loved how it was within the realms of possibility.

The Bad

  • I personally could have done without the romance. It undoes the resolution of the first movie. I only couldn’t tell you if it was better or worse that they made a new character rather than have Jennifer Connelly play Charlie.
    Don’t get me wrong Connelly, and the character of Peggy, was decent. I just felt that it didn’t add anything.
  • The film really was trying to hard to recreate the conflict of the original. Unfortunately Hangman is too much of a unabashed dickwad throughout the film that it doesn’t have that same feel.
    I either needed a very different dynamic, or I needed something that breaks him down and humbles him and I’m not talking about not being picked.
    In fact, you know what would have been good? Keep the final act involvement of Hangman, but have him choke out during one of the final training missions.

The Ugly

  • I think I’ve spent too much of my life worried I’d become my mother, that I’ve become my father. Mainly because this movie is just a retelling of Star Wars: A New Hope.
    Seriously though?! There’s a good chance you were already thinking it, but if you weren’t, watch it again and tell me I’m wrong?!
  • Where was all the gay undertones that the original was so famous for?! My lecturer didn’t write a paper on the homoerotic coding of Top Gun for Top Gun: Maverick to do us so dirty!

Final Thoughts

I did not expect to like this film, let alone like it as much as I did. Issues aside, it’s a fairly decent movie. Dare I say the “blockbuster” has a pulse after all?!