Film Review: Halloween (2018)

Forty years after the original movie, Halloween (2018) is a fitting follow up to the slasher classic. 

Forty years after Michael Myers’ murder spree, Laurie Strode lives in a state of constant vigilance. Meanwhile, two journalist wish to interview Myers before he is transferred to a different institution…

There have been many sequels (not forgetting the reboot) to horror classic Halloween (1978). Now, forty years later, director and co-writer David Gordon Green asks viewers to cast all those aside, and view this latest picture as a direct follow up to John Carpenter’s original. The offer is tempting – the film offers the talents of writers Green, Danny McBride, and Jeff Fradley, and the return of Jamie Lee Curtis (although Curtis did return for 1998’s Halloween H20: 20 Years Later among sequels). Whilst those familiar with the entire franchise may wonder whether another film is necessary, the filmmakers quickly allay these fears. 

Halloween (2018) is a competent and enjoyable horror movie. Green’s film begins well, and establishes characters and their relationships succinctly. The real action begins when Michael is on the loose once more. The bodies quickly pile up, with even named characters dispatched without ceremony. It certainly gives the feeling that none of the characters are safe. 

Some of the usual jump scares are present, unsurprisingly. There are some great sequences; the foreshadowing makes the inevitable more of a thrill to watch. Halloween is largely credited with cementing slasher movie tropes (although 1974’s Black Christmas should share this accolade), and these are writ large in Green’s film. There are several callbacks to the original, yet the film does not try to ape its predecessor. It provides an electrifying ending, turning the tables of the original, whilst giving viewers something fresh. 

Laurie’s understandable paranoia is a recurring theme, and in the end spells out who will survive. Forty years on, the prey is now the hunter. Halloween turns the final girl into a fearless protector. Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her role with aplomb. Judy Greer is also a welcome presence.

Halloween is a respectful follow up to the original film. It feels like a suitable conclusion to the franchise, and hopefully closes the door to anymore offshoots.

Previews: Halloween Poster, The Happy Prince, More!

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, which include the brand new Halloween poster, Hereditary, The Happy Prince, and more…

Halloween Poster

Here is the new poster for the upcoming Halloween. Forty years since the original Halloween film, and twenty since Jamie Lee Curtis reprised her famous role in Halloween H20, Michael Myers is back once more. Curtis is joined by Judy Greer and Will Patton, and the film is directed by David Gordon Green (Your Highness, Stronger). With John Carpenter among the Executive Producer, Halloween hits the big screen on 19th October 2018.

Hereditary Trailer

Above is the new trailer for Hereditary. The upcoming horror is about a family who reveal something sinister about their ancestry when the matriarch of the clan passes away. Hereditary stars Toni Collette and Gabriel Byrne, and is the feature debut from writer-director Ari Aster. The film is set for release on 15th June 2018.

The Happy Prince Trailer

The Happy Prince is written, directed, and stars Rupert Everett. The film is his directorial debut. Everett stars as Oscar Wilde, portraying the writer in his final years. The film also stars Colin Firth and Emily Watson. The Happy Prince will be released in UK cinemas on 15th June 2018.

Life of the Party Trailer

Here is the latest trailer for Life of the Party. The comedy stars Melissa McCarthy as a newly divorced mum who decides to go back to college. The film is directed by McCarthy’s husband Ben Falcone, and penned by the couple. Also starring Gillian Jacobs and Maya Rudolph, Life of the Party will be released in UK cinemas on 11th May 2018.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Trailer

Above is the last trailer for the upcoming Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The sequel sees Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard reprise their roles from 2015’s Jurassic World. Jeff Goldblum also reprises his role from the franchise. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom launches onto UK screens on 6th June 2018.

Previews: Spark Trailer, Snatched, More!

This week’s preview of coming attractions features the new Spark trailer, plus Snatched, Alien: Covenant, and more…

Spark Trailer

Here is thew new Spark trailer. The film is about a teenage monkey who must journey across the universe in order to save the galaxy. The film features the voices of Susan Sarandon, Patrick Stewart, Jessica Biel, and Hilary Swank. Spark launches on to UK screens on 26th May 2017.

Alien: Covenant Prologue

This Alien: Covenant prologue (The Crossing) bridges the gap between Prometheus and the upcoming Alien: Covenant. The clip explains what happened to the survivors of the previous film, and features Michael Fassbender’s character as narrator. The latest film in the Alien franchise also stars Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, and Danny McBride. Alien: Covenant hits UK screens on 12th May 2017.

Snatched Clip

Amy Schumer shows off her comedy prowess in this clip from the upcoming Snatched. The film is about a mis-matched mother and daughter who take an exotic vacation together. Schumer is joined by Goldie Hawn, as well as Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack. Snatched is out in UK cinemas on 19th May 2017.

Wilson Trailer

Here is the trailer for new comedy Wilson. The film is about a middle-aged misanthrope who reunites with his estranged wife. The film stars Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, and Judy Greer. Wilson receives its debut at Sundance London on 2nd June 2017, and will be released  in selected cinemas on 9th June 2017.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Trailer

Following the teaser last week, here is the full trailer for Kingsman: The Golden Circle. In this sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service, the Kingsman headquarters is destroyed, leading Eggsy and co to discover an allied spy organisation. Director Matthew Vaughn and writer Jane Goldman return, as do Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, and Colin Firth. They are joined by Juliane Moore, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, and Channing Tatum. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is scheduled for release in September 2017.

Gifted Clip

Director Marc Webb’s latest film is Gifted. The film stars Chris Evans as a man single-handedly raising his niece (played by Mckenna Grace). The film also stars Jenny Slate and Octavia Spencer, and a one-eyed cat (according to the above clip). Gifted will be released on UK screens on 16th June 2017.

Film Review: Grandma


Writer-director Paul Weitz’s Grandma is an entertaining inter-generational comedy. Weitz’s script makes the film an enjoyable affair.

Teenager Sage arrives at her grandmother Elle’s house in desperate need of $600. Having just gone through a break-up, Elle is unprepared for the request. The pair attempt to raise the money by visiting old friends…

Grandma works very well as a comedy with something to say. The film boasts a great script and good performances from its leads. Characters in the film are thoughtfully depicted; there is a sense of realism to them. This also applies to those with only one scene in Grandma.

Title character Elle is a big part of the reason why Grandma is such an entertaining film. She is frequently humorous, but also has important wisdom to impart. Sage is not the one-dimensional teenager she could have been. Sage works as an independent character, and in the burgeoning relationship with her grandmother.

Grandma functions as a road movie, despite the short distance travelled. Segmenting the film into chapters, with titles, works well. This is particularly rues, given the frequent references to writing and books. Feminism is discussed in an overt fashion in the film. After all, the story is about a woman’s choice, but there are layers to this in the central relationship and the protagonists’ relationships with other characters.

Paul Weitz’s direction is good. He manages to depict meaningful scenes and allow the audience to get to know the characters without the loss of pace. It is the mark of a good director that he is able to tell the story well in an 80-minute run time. The performance from Lily Tomlin is great in Grandma. Julie Garner is also shines as Sage, and Marcia Gay Harden provides good support. There are also some decent performances in some of the smaller roles, including Judy Greer as Olivia.

Grandma is a brisk and enjoyable movie which puts women and their choices at the centre.

Film Review: Men, Women & Children


Jason Reitman’s Men, Women & Children is a treatise on the negative aspects of the internet. The drama is slow-burning, with characters that engage throughout.

A group of high school students navigate the modern world, with their lives played out and guided by online activity. Their parents too navigate the impact the internet has had in their lives…

In previous films, director and co-writer Jason Reitman has exhibited a knack for depicting authentic characters, not all of whom are entirely likeable. Reitman continues this trend with Men, Women & Children, albeit with an ensemble cast rather than one or two protagonists.

Men, Women & Children distributes its run time fairly evenly between parents and their kids. The film takes a little while to develop the characters, given the numbers involved in the storylines. Nevertheless, as the film progresses, the characters are fleshed out sufficiently to make them appear authentic.

Reitman’s film is abundantly clear in its views of the impact of the internet. As a fable on the negative aspects of the internet, Men, Women & Children feels like it has arrived a little late. Whilst the far-reaching impact of the internet on modern society is a topic ripe for investigation, the film seems reductive in its moralising. It is obvious the type of relationship which is endorsed by the film, and the types that are considered unhealthy.

Performances in the film are strong. The ensemble cast performs well, particularly Judy Greer and Elena Kampouris. Jennifer Garner is also decent, as is Adam Sandler; it is refreshing to see him in a more subdued role.The film’s soundtrack works well.

Although it does have its merits, Men, Women & Children is not at the same level as some of Jason Reitman’s previous films. A more nuanced depiction of the theme would have no doubt been an improvement.

Men, Women & Children is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2014.

London Film Festival 2014 – Preview of Coming Attractions

Second Coming

The full programme for the BFI London Film Festival 2014 was announced today, and it is brimming with fascinating artifacts. A total of 245 fiction and documentary features, including 16 World Premieres, are being screening during the twelve day festival, as well as 148 shorts. Opening the London Film Festival 2014 is The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. The festival closes with David Ayer’s Fury, starring Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf. The BFI London Film Festival 2014 runs from 8th-19th October. Here are my picks from the programme…

Men, Women & Children

Following the success of Young Adult and Labor Day, Jason Reitman’s latest film is an adaptation Chad Kultgen’s novel. Focusing on emotional isolation in the digital age, Men, Women & Children features an ensemble cast that includes Jennofer Garner, Adam Sandler and Judy Greer. 

Second Coming

Second Coming is Debbie Tucker Green’s directorial debut. The British drama stars Nadine Marshall and Idris Elba as a London-based couple living with their teenage son. Second Coming is one of the film’s shortlisted for the London Film Festival 2014’s First Feature Competition.



Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash is about the relationship between a musical prodigy and his teacher. Starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, the film won the Grend Jury and Audience awards at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Dear White People

Writer-director Justin Simien’s Dear White People is a satire which tackles the issue of race in contemporary America. Set at an Ivy League college, the film concerns a sole-black fraternity which is to be diversified.

White God

A film about a dog. When young Lili goes to stay with her dad, he is not interested in looking after her pet dog Hagen. Deciding to leave the dog at the side of the road, this sets off a eye-opening series of events in director Kornél Mundruczó’s White Dog.

Tickets for the BFI London Film Festival 2014 go on sale to the public on Thursday 18th September 2014. For the full schedule, and details of events, see here.

Film Review: The Descendants

Alexander Payne’s The Descendants features a great screenplay and some good performances. For all its merits, however, the film does not have a lasting impact.

Matt King is a lawyer and landowner leaving in Hawaii. When his wife suffers a boating accident, he is forced to look after his two daughters. With his wife in a coma, Matt tries to reconnect with ten-year-old Scottie and her older sister Alexandra. Matt must juggle these responsibilities with the decision of making a major land sale…

The Descendants features a narrative that could have been quite sad. Instead, the themes are dealt with using a lighter approach. The humour in the film is a good antidote to the film’s emotional side. The film can quickly jump from drama to comedy, making some of the laughs quite unexpected.

The characters in the film are all well developed. They appear natural rather than one dimensional. It is not difficult to empathise with Matt, and the raft of emotions he goes through. The secondary strand of the land sale is not quite as interesting as the main narrative, although the repeating of the family theme is a nice touch.

George Clooney offers an engaging performance as Matt. Shailene Woodley is well cast as Alexandra, while Nick Krause does an excellent job as Sid. Judy Greer is also great, and it is nice to see Matthew Lillard using his comedy chops in a mainstream film. The Descendants captures some beautiful imagery of Hawaii. Music is often understated, which works well in the context.

The Descendants is a well-produced film and an enjoyable watch. It is unlikely to linger in the mind for too long after viewing, but this isn’t really a necessity.

The Descendants is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2011.

Film Review: Love and Other Drugs

Love and Other Drugs is an enjoyable comedy drama with two very attractive leads. The film retains a good balance between humour and emotion, which only strays too far one way at the end of the film.

Jamie is a charming ladies’ man hoping to become a success in the burgeoning pharmaceutical sales industry. He is instantly smitten by Maggie, a young artist living with Parkinson’s disease. Jamie must struggle with the stressful nature of his job while also pursuing Maggie, a free spirit who does not intend to get tied down…

One of the highlights of Love and Other Drugs is the way the two protagonists are developed. The opening scene works perfectly to succinctly compose an illustration of Jamie as an attractive and charismatic guy who can charm any woman. It is a great opening to both the character and the film. Maggie’s personality, on the other hand, evolves over the course of the film, revealing both her bluntness and her sensitivity at various intervals.

There is nothing groundbreaking about the story; the narrative turns in Love and Other Drugs are fairly predictable. The film’s strength lies in its ability to project believable and interesting characters. Aside from a few cheesy moments at the end of the film, the dialogue appears authentic, and is peppered with humour and affection.

Love and Other Drugs differentiates itself from other films in the same vein through its very particular setting. Taking place in the late 1990s, the film is set in a period where pharmaceuticals became big business with drugs being sold commercially. Love and Other Drugs casts a knowing eye over how the industry evolved in this era. This is accompanied by a great soundtrack featuring tracks from that period and prior to it.

Edward Zwick does a capable job of directing the film. Love and Other Drugs‘ emphasis is firmly on the couple, yet allows for some interesting side characters. Many of the scenes between Jamie and Maggie are beautifully crafted, employing adept camerawork and editing to create an intimacy between both the couple themselves, and the couple and the audience. The home video footage is particularly striking in the way it highlights the beauty of both actors.

Jake Gyllenhaal is convincing as Jamie, oozing the charm that is so central to this character. Anne Hathaway demonstrates an admirable range, showing that Rachel Getting Married was no fluke. The charismatic pair are bolstered by some great supporting players, including Hank Azaria and Josh Gad. Judy Greer is delightfully ditzy in a small role.

Love and Other Drugs effectively combines depth and lightness, delivering a believable rendering of a tumultuous relationship. For the most part, the film strikes the right balance, which makes the decline at the ending unfortunate but not unforgivable.