Little Evil (2017) Film Review

Stats

Trailer

The Good

  • ⁃Adam Scott impressed me in this. The first thing I saw him in was Hot Tub Time Machine 2 and from that point, I avoided everything with him in. Since seeing Parks and Rec though, everything has changed. There’s something about him in this that allows him to play the character as someone out of his depth without being weak. Brilliant.
  • The satire that isn’t spoof. There is comedic elements, it does delve heavily into the plot points of The Omen and other horror movies, but in a much more ‘love letter’ approach than many other lampooning films.
  • That unexpected, left field, ending was rather impressive.

The Bad

  • Not all the humour landed for me. I think it’s the SNL improv approach that I just cannot get a handle on. However, SNL has been running longer than I’ve been alive, so I’m sure there is an audience for it.

The Ugly

  • I don’t like the story telling device of being introduced to a movie at the midpoint, to then see what happened to get there. With the exception of The Hangover, I find it is a form of storytelling that only works well with tv shows and characters an audience are familiar with.

Final Thoughts

It was a decent offering and one I might watch again.

The Belko Experiement (2016) Halloween Advent

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: Part of MGM subscription on Amazon Prime
Trailer:

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  • There’s a few narrative choices that wind me up. The use of the lift again. Some of you reading might remember my rant from Prom Night (2008) a few weeks back, but here it is again. Only, its even mentioned. Mike goes so far as to tell people not to use the lifts. He tells them that during these sort of problems in buildings, they’re not safe. So why the fuck is he seen using one in the next god damn scene?!
  • I wish the film had perhaps used the company appraisal or review system to select people to be killed. It would add a second layer to the plot as often appraisal systems are flawed and corrupted by management to allow brown nosers to succeed and keep those who a sincerely good at their job at a certain level.
  • This is a budget movie and, as a result, the CGI is shit. I’m talking about the sequence in which the building is locked down and I’m just of the thought that CGI, and the very poor establishing shot, was unnecessary.

Treat

  • This film is everything you love about James Gunn’s work; from casting familiar faces to music selection and odd-ball comedy ticks. There’s a bit where a number of workers have headed to the roof and are calling for help. They grab the attention of the guard, who turns, drinks his tea, lowers it and turns away. That sort of obscure humour really tickles me.
  • There’s too many amazing people on the cast list to mention individually, but I want to mention regulars to Team Gunn: brother Sean and Michael Rooker. Both of them have clearly been given roles made for them and I am here for it. While its fair to say I could have done with more of both of them, they worked perfectly in the time that they had on screen.
    Tony Goldwyn and John Gallagher Jr are incredible in their own roles, but it is the conflict between these two characters that makes them both the perfect choice.

Final Thoughts

Its dark, its gruesome and perhaps not for everyone, but the casting and visual style works for me. It is also obscure enough that tweens won’t ruin it by telling me how amazing the violence is.

Carrie (2013) Halloween Advent

Rating 15
Length 1h40
Release 29.11.2013
Director Kimberly Peirce
About Carrie, an awkward teenager protected by fanatical mother, becomes the butt of all jokes in school. When the pranks of her classmates go out of hand, she unleashes her telekinetic powers.
Moon: Full moon when Sue Snell puts away her prom dress
Where to Watch: Available on MGM subscription via Amazon Prime
Trailer:

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  • The CGI in this version is shockingly bad. The blood scene in particular stands out as fake along with the car crash that has Chris and Billy inside the car and the final shot of Carrie’s grave.
  • The music is a little underwhelming.

Treat

  • This version gives us a much better opening, which shows us much more about ‘Mama’ and shows that Carrie always has telekinesis. The simple inclusion of the fact that her mother tried to kill her at birth immediately has me on Carrie’s side.
  • The shower scene is a million times better; a much better representation of awkward teens and Chloe Grace Moretz really gives a better performance of a young girl experiencing her first period without having any education on the process. The added touch of someone filming Carrie, curled up in a ball and afraid that she’s dying is such a brilliant touch. Mainly because, again, this director is showing you what teens would do in the situation.
    The one thing I absolutely loved more than anything, was the fact that Sue became more sympathetic on her own. The gym teacher did not intervene or pressure her into regret.
    They also, very easily, manage to solve many of the issues I had with this scene; they have the girls explain to the teacher that they don’t think Carrie knows what is happening to her. It’s simple, but damn it, it works.
  • Judy Greer is always fantastic, but in this, she is the perfect authoritarian who genuinely cares for Carrie. I do enjoy that they kept in some of the character’s unprofessional behaviour while acknowledging it as such.
    Her handling of Carrie right after the shower is spot on, and is how I would expect a teacher to handle the situation.
  • In fact, so many of questions the plot raised in 1976, are answered here. I will also note, that it is in fact helmed by a female director and do feel like that makes the world of difference due to the subject focus. The biggest being; if Mama was so fearful of her daughter being influenced by society, why the fuck wasn’t she being home schooled? Just a line by the principle “You have to be here because the State denied your mother home school privileges” or something like that.
  • The Sue, Tommy, Carrie triangle is handled a little better in this film and at the very least they don’t include the Tommy/Carrie kiss. I also love that Carrie responds to Tommy’s death and that almost forms the catalyst for her rampage. However, I am only convinced that the plot truly will ever work if it was a brother of Sue’s (maybe a twin), that Carrie likes.

Final Thoughts

A superior version that answers a lot of the questions the 1976 instalment raised.

Carrie (1976) Halloween Advent

Rating 18
Length 1h38
Release 27.8.2021
Director Brian De Palma
About On the day of her prom night, seventeen-year-old Carrie discovers that she possesses telekinetic powers. She puts her powers to use when she is humiliated after a prank.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Part of MGM subscription package on Amazon Prime (£4.99 a month)
Trailer:

First Thoughts

I loathed this film! Just fair warning…

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  • My biggest issue is the entire opening scene/act. It is beyond gratuitous and does such an injustice to everyone involved:
    • Did we really need to see teenage girls (I’m aware they were all nearing their 30s, but that’s not the point. They’re playing teenagers) fully naked. This isn’t about me being a prude, the film is an 18 after all, but about the realities of teen girls. No way, no fucking how, are teen girls prancing about *that* naked. When this is also meant to be about the awkwardness of teen years, why throw that away so you can give your audience a stiffy or wide-on?!
    • Going on from that, what the actual fuck was with that introduction to Carrie White. Bullying her for starting her period and not knowing?! That becomes a bit hard to buy given that she’s spent the entire credit sequence all but orgasming there in the shower, in full view of her class.
      Going on from that, Carrie’s hysterics and the fact that its her first period are so mishandled that I’m lacking sympathy for this character. Just needed even one girl to acknowledge that they thought it was Carrie’s first period and that she didn’t know what one was. Either that, or we really needed more screen time with her not cleaning herself like she was in a porno.
  • Well, I can only imagine the character of Billy Nolan has a microscopic dick, because Chris has flawless speech for someone who is meant to be sucking off her boyfriend. Also, why the fuck was she the one moaning like it was her receiving oral sex?! I honestly felt like this was directed by someone who really just wanted to work in porn. For a film that’s event trigger is menstruation, you’d think that you’d be more aware of your demographic.
  • Now, I’ve read a few bits about De Palma being accused of being misogynistic. I’ve not read King’s book either, so I don’t know if I can put the blame solely on De Palma, but what kind of bullshit is it that girls (I assume it would be the boys too, but that was unclear) cannot go to prom without a date? That’s some discriminatory crap right there and it angered me so much I almost stopped watching there and then.
    Which leads to the reason why they had to put that in play; Sue Snell forcing her boyfriend, Tommy Ross, to ask out Carrie. Like what the fuck?! It doesn’t work or stand up to scrutiny. It’s just as cruel as what Chris has planned because its not established that it’s as friends and Tommy even goes as far as kissing her, which I find hard to take as sincere.
  • The Mum is illogically fucked and leaves me with too many questions:
    – If this mum is so against the society, why is she not home schooling Carrie?
    – Periods are a punishment of sin? What the fuck? Also, what’s the underlying cause of Carrie starting her period late?
    – A religious nut so against sex? Yes, pre-marital sex, I get. However to be so against it that she refuses sex even to produce a child really does make me wonder why she got married at all?!
    – Carrie is clearly a victim of abuse and no one has picked up on it? I guess that’s a bias one because I’ve been trained in spotting such thing, but when the film is called Carrie, I shouldn’t be questioning the morality of everyone else.

Treat

  • I love all the split screen editing that allows both the forground and background be in focus at once. Even the Vaseline smudge between the two really adds to the visuals.
  • Everything from the start of prom onwards is brilliant visually, musically and tonally.
  • The use of the Psycho score is perfect. I thought I’d imagined it at first, but as Carrie’s powers develop and you heard more you couldn’t deny its presence. It works just as effectively here as it does in Psycho.

Final Thoughts

Over-rated bullshit. Probably should have been called Mama, given she was the asshole of the film. The film leaves way too many plot holes that solve so many bits of the cause and effect that leaves you with way too many questions.

End of Days (1999) Halloween Advent

Rating 18
Length 2h01
Release 10.12.1999
Director Peter Hyams
About The Devil crashes a New Year’s party in New York and inhabits a man’s body. He searches for his bride, a woman named Christine York, as he wants her to bear his child and destroy the world.
Moon: Full moon during the establishing shot of 1979
Where to Watch: Disney Plus
Trailer:

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  • Some of the CGI hasn’t aged well. I would also argue that it wasn’t designed to live up to repeat viewings. The one scene that’s most noticeable is the homeless guy who shatters like glass in Christine’s dream.
  • It’s a visually dark film. There are ways in which you can suggest this level of darkness while still keeping the scene lit. The way in which this film is produced, you cannot have any light in the room in order to watch the film. That doesn’t make for enjoyable watching on my part.

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  • For me, this film is faultless casting. I was reading that the role of Jericho was originally offered to Tom Cruise. Given that the role is so similar to John Anderton in Minority Report, I cannot see how that would have worked. Whereas Arnold Schwarzenegger offers something different to the man broken by life.
  • Kevin Pollak is always a welcome addition to any project, but he’s spot on here and provides a comedic relief that fits the tone of the film. His story arc is a touch of genius too. The careful editing, snappy dialogue all helps his journey and increases its believability.
  • The religious symbolism and imagery within the film is something you might not notice at first watch, but it is well thought out. What is also good about these elements is the fact that they’re value added; you don’t miss anything by not knowing this stuff, but it does add layers.
    • From having the priest who prophesied Christine’s existence called Thomas (While there’s the literally link of Thomas Aquinas, there’s also the idea that he called by name after the Pope disagrees with Thomas’ plan to kill Christine; perhaps an alluding to Doubting Thomas).
    • Jericho Cane shares his initials with the Christian saviour and his story arc involves a beautifully cruel mirroring of the temptation of Christ and even the final act has comparisons to Jesus’ rejection of violence in the Garden of Gethsemane and His prayer for strength from God.
    • Christine herself is believed to bring about the birth of the anti-Christ, so its quite fitting that she has a feminine name similar to Christ.
  • What I love most of all about this film is its action sequences. This is a typical Arnie film where you can switch of your brain and watch the Muscles from Brussels save the day.

Final Thoughts

Its not perfect, but that’s why I love it. Just don’t ask me to choose between this or Stigmata because 1999 really came through for us with the religious horror!

Nightbooks (2021) Halloween Advent

Rating PG
Length 1h 43
Release 15.9.2021
Director David Yarovesky
About Scary story fan Alex must tell a spine-tingling tale every night, or stay trapped with his new friend in a wicked witch’s magical apartment forever.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Netflix
Trailer:

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  • The opening of the film is really off putting. It throws you in the deep end, for the purpose of a payoff later in the film. It doesn’t work for me and makes me a little detached from the protagonist.
  • The theme of abuse and trauma is a little too on the nose for what should be a children’s film. To also contain it in such a way in a fantasy film is a little problematic when a lot of children are made to believe everything they experience is in their own head.
  • It’s really dark, and scary. Which, yay, its Halloween. However, this is not a family affair and it will scare little ones.

Treat

  • Krysten Ritter was born for the role she plays, if not a little too young looking for the role. The fear and the horror comes from her unpredictability and clashing sugary sweet look.
  • The way in which Alex’s stories are told really is awesome. The stylised approach really allows to make a distinction between Alex’s stories and Alex’s experiences.

Final Thoughts

Its not too sure on its target audience, so be aware if you intend to watch with little horrors.

The Canterville Ghost (1985)

Rating N/A
Length 55m
Release 1985 (no further details to be found)
Director William G Claxton
About The restless ghost of Sir Simon Canterville has been endlessly haunting his castle in search of a brave soul who will release him from the Canterville curse. A family then moves into the castle, and upon discovering the ghost, finds him to be quite amusing.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime
Trailer:

No trailer

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  • At 55 minutes, the first is a little too short to do Oscar Wilde’s short story its true justice. It’s such a charming and wonderful story, that has been retold through the decades and with such little screen time, this does very little to stand out from the others.
  • I hate it when it is so obvious that the film is not being filmed in the place in which the story is set. It’s such a shame, as it is only a few establishing shots that really ruin the illusion and reveal the California home.

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  • I absolutely adore the effects. Are they old and cheesy? Damn right, they are, but that’s part of the charm.
  • The cast is wonderful. From ‘that guy’ Mr Hammond spared ‘no expense’ for the narration of Jurassic Park’s tour (Richard Kiley), to Diagnosis Murder’s Barry Van Dyke and the girl that looks eerily like the one from Poltergeist. They all provide solid performances.
  • It is Mary Wickes, who viewers will recognise from Sister Act, who steals every single scene she’s in as the long standing house-keeper. Her personality wins you over so quickly that you can’t even be mad that this woman is grumbling about the invasion of American owners in her own, unhidden, accent.

Final Thoughts

A solid entry into the Canterville offerings, but I still prefer the Neve Campbell and Patrick Stewart version.

28 Weeks Later (2007) Halloween Advent

Rating 18
Length 1h40
Release 11.5.2007
Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
About Six months after the Rage virus turned half of Britain into zombies, the US Army helps secure London for the survivors after a carrier of the virus enters the city and the horror begins once again.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Disney Plus
Trailer:

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  • There is an authenticity to the actions of the two leads. However, when their selfish and stupid actions lead to entire chaos of the 90-odd minutes, it’s really hard to root for their survival. Especially at the cost of some excellent characters.
  • What a waste was Idris Elba? Firstly, you make him American when we all know his London accent is the best. Then, where the fuck does he go?! He just disappears. What the actual fuck? Justice for Elba.
  • Flynn ploughing through the field of infected didn’t work for me. How the fuck did no blood splash back and infect him? I know, I know, suspend belief. But seriously?! That would have been so fucking cool had he gotten infected and lost control of the chopper, you know?

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  • The filming techniques are absolutely incredible. There’s movement, without it coming with nausea. There’s a ghostly quality to the night-time scenes that heightens the tension; while there’s darkness, you can also see the detail.
    That final scene is guerrilla filmmaking at its finest. Not only is it beautiful, it throws the story wide open and plants a seed in your imagination.
  • The story, while a continuance of the 2002 film, tells a very different story. It expands on the concept of a zombie being more of a virus, playing on our own fears of bio terrorism.
  • Watching the film in the light of our own pandemic, the realism of how the second wave of infections were triggered is so on point. At first I scoffed at how easily the returning Brits accepted the tests given to allow access.
    Then, the plot gave us two characters who could not follow rules, broke quarantine and fucked everything up. Does make you realise there’s a reason we’re the worst country in the world right now.

Final Thoughts

This films major flaw is expecting the audience to root for the two individuals who caused the secondary outbreak. It’s fucked and makes me angry, and when I’m angry I’m not scared.

28 Days Later (2002) Halloween Advent

Rating 18
Length 1h53
Release 01.11.2002
Director Danny Boyle
About After a mysterious virus wreaks havoc in the United Kingdom, a team of survivors tries to cope with the aftermath of the disaster and find security.
Moon: full moon sighted at 1h40
Where to Watch: Disney Plus
Trailer:

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  • Christopher Eccleston’s accent isn’t right for the part; it’s more fitting for a Politian than a soldier that’s presented. The other issue is that Eccleston does not keep the accent consistent. The recorded broadcast has Eccleston use the more familiar Northern accent that he is known for, yet upon meeting him the accent becomes closer to an RP, and even Shakespearian at times. It’s not the crapiness of his rah, rah, rah accent that bugs me, but the inconsistency. Especially when you consider the base is near Manchester.

Treat

  • The opening and the initial cause of the outbreak is genius. From the way climate crisis groups like Insulate Britain and Extinction Rebellion are behaving, it is totally realistic that people would be so self-righteous as to blaze in and create chaos all in the name of what they think is ‘right’.
  • The filming technique, editing and use of sounds is impeccable. It all adds to the atmosphere and apocalypse. You feel like you’re there with Jim.
  • There are so many scenes in this film that are beautiful. From the collection of money and cans of drinks, to the raid of the supermarket and the picnic at the side of the motorway. They’re scenes of truest humanity in the face of an apocalypse.
  • The casting is incredible. Naomi Watts is a force to be reckoned with and truly makes me wonder why she hasn’t been in more things other than Bond. Brendan Gleeson and Cillian Murphy are perfect in their survivor roles.

Final Thoughts

A film I’ve not watched in years and I think that worked in its favour.

Halloween Kills (2021)

Rating 18
Length 2h23
Release 26.4.2012
Director Joss Whedon
About Nick Fury is compelled to launch the Avengers Initiative when Loki poses a threat to planet Earth. His squad of superheroes
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: In cinemas and on some home streaming platforms
Trailer:

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  • It can’t keep the momentum of the first of this timeline and it certainly doesn’t hit the bar in terms of quality. 
  • There are almost too many character threads being followed. In a similar way to Halloween II (1981), Laurie is hospital bound and has little to do, there’s Anthony Michael Hall’s Tommy and a few other returning characters from the 1978 original, but how they’re used makes their inclusion too much like fan service than a need for them in the story; almost as if casting and characters were prioritised over telling the story.
  • In a similar sense, this instalment feels like a set up to the next film. They knew how they were starting, they knew there were two more sequels and how this was going to end, the rest just feels like padding. 
  • I really hate the immortality aspect of The Shape/ Michael Myers. It’s fucking stupid because that is part of the legend of him and undermines the believability of a mob mentality.

Treat

  • The body count and kills are unrelenting and imaginative. From the first responders, to the final showdown this film really earns its 18 rating. 
  • Jamie Lee Curtis will always be impeccable in everything she does. Ever since seeing her in A Fish Called Wanda, I’ve trusted that anything she’s in will be something I’ll enjoy. 
  • Anthony Michael Hall as Tommy is quite a genius bit of casting and characterisation. To see how those 40 years have gone for Tommy, how much it’s effected him is not something I’ve really thought about. His ability to move and motivate a crowd into a mob is incredible, and something I’m not certain Joseph Gordon Levitt would have been able to pull off. 
  • There are Call backs and Easter eggs to many of the other films in the franchise. I particularly loved the nod to the third film that didn’t even feature Michael Myers. 
  • The scariest thing out of all of the violence is the mob. Michael Myers, due to his apparent immortality, and known volatile tendencies doesn’t have the same shock and horror as the group of ordinary people; doctors, citizens and police who are all but frothing at the mouth at the thought of killing Michael. It’s all within the realms of possibility and the fact that they all ignore the harm they do to others and actively ignore the voice of logic and reason is the sole bit of this film that chilled me to the bone. 

Final Thoughts

I found aspects of the film interesting, but it just didn’t quite live up to the expectations the 2018 offering gave me.

Hot Fuzz (2007) Halloween Advent

Rating 18
Length 2h01
Release 14.2.2007
Director Edgar Wright
About Police officer Nicholas Angel is known to be the best across London. His seniors, who are jealous of his achievements, transfer him to a remote village where he encounters various challenges.
Moon: Full moon at the group showdown
Where to Watch: Netflix
Trailer:

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  • It’s a tad too long for me. Even shaving 20 minutes off the total running time would really help it feel like a well paced film. As it stands, I often find myself flagging in the last third; there’s almost too much after the big reveal and it does the film a disservice.

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  • For me, the best thing about this movie is the editing and how it is able to show things that other police shows and films omit in an interesting and artistic way.
  • Casting, as with any Edgar Wright film, is spot on. The best casting choice of course is the one and only Edward Woodwood, who is the biggest bit of foreshadowing I’ve ever noticed in a film.
  • Nicholas Angel is one of the best characters. His story arc and how he interacts with everyone he comes into contact with provides so much entertainment and quotable content.
  • The homage is just as good, if not better, in this when you compare it to Shaun of the Dead.
  • So many subtle things, that have massive payoffs later in the film. In fact, its a film that I’ll watch and notice something new each time.

Final Thoughts

The best of the trilogy, both in terms of casting and genre. For me, its more akin to Wicker Man, than the action movies lampooned, but that’s actually the beauty of this film.

Shaun of the Dead (2004) Halloween Advent

Rating 15
Length 1h39
Release 9.4.2004
Director Edgar Wright
About Shaun is a salesman whose life has no direction. However, his uneventful life takes a sudden turn when he has to singlehandedly deal with an entire community of zombies.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Netflix
Trailer:

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  • The biggest thing for me is the lack of a Bond actor. It’s a really stupid complaint given how little money this film was made on, but with both Hot Fuzz and World’s End both prominently starring a Bond, it just would have been a brilliant touch.

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  • Where do I start? I must admit that the first time I watched this movie, I wasn’t too enamoured. That said, I hadn’t watched too many zombie films at that point, so I couldn’t appreciate the homage. It’s all there; from camera angles to lines, it is a love letter to the zombie sub-genre.
  • The cast is spot on. Simon Pegg as the lead, Nick Frost as his best mate. Everyone who supports. Stunning! This film wouldn’t be the same without any of the people involved.
  • There’s so many sequences that really just… work. The record tossing in order to kill the invaders in their garden is genius and I love the ‘action’ sequence to Queen with the follow up of Your My Best Friend leadingus out to the credits.

Final Thoughts

I love this film. Not as much as I love Hot Fuzz, but this is what a spoof should be. Not the Scary Movie type.