The Spooky Season has now concluded! I hope that you have had a marvelously frightening time! Here is a photo of my daughter completely nailing Spooky Season.
I managed to pack in a few more spooky films over the course of the month. None of them were all that spooky. They certainly weren’t very scary. But they were all frequently hilarious. Mostly unintended, I think!
Candyman (1992) is one of my all-time favourite horror films. It’s on a short list of films that seem to get better and better every time I watch them. Candyman is the big leagues. It’s on the level of big, thematically resonant and timeless films like Halloween and Night of the Living Dead. I’m serious!
So, a reboot/sequel done in modern fashion has extremely big shoes to fill. I don’t envy any filmmaking team attempting to live up to such expectations. Seems scary.
Candyman (2021) isn’t scary, though. It’s … fine. It’s very slick. Has a very good look and some good performances. It offers a novel expansion of the lore from the original film. But it falls flat for the most part. This is a big disappointment, but it is also fairly unsurprising to me that it was disappointing. The 1992 film is a very difficult act to follow. Its own sequels were total crap.
I can recommend Candyman (2021) on the basis that it is a well-shot horror film that came out this year, but anyone looking for something that lives up to their memories of the original masterpiece is out of luck.
Level of Enjoyment: Moderate
Spiral: From The Book of Saw
I have seen every Saw movie, and I simultaneously hate these movies and compulsively love them/seek them out. There aren’t any good Saw movies, but Spiral is a pretty good Saw movie. Does that make sense?
Chris Rock is a baffling choice as a lead, but apparently this movie wouldn’t have been made without him. It’s not a Saw movie in the respect that the Jigsaw Killer is the murderer in this, but it’s a Saw movie in every respect otherwise. I laughed a lot – mostly when the film didn’t intend for me to, and never when the film was trying to go for laughs. The police procedural segments, which make up a great deal of this film’s runtime, were boring as sin. But the traps!
The traps were very good Saw Traps! They were all very mean, and I think they were 100% traps that were even more unfair than most other Saw Traps. Nobody had enough time to get out of these traps! Even though they were trying so hard.
The true test of any Saw movie, though, is: Did the ending make you laugh out loud until the credits roll?
The ending of Spiral is one of the funniest of the entire series.
Most of this movie is very boring, but I still totally recommend it to anyone who can’t help themselves from watching this godawful series of films.
Level of Enjoyment: Sawderate
The 2018 Halloween reboot/sequel was unexpectedly great. It managed to take series that had lost its way about 31 times over the last 40 years and revitalize it. The film felt fresh and tense, and Michael Myers seemed brutal and terrifying for maybe the first time since… the late 70s? Some very clever writing and novel filmmaking on display here. Sometimes tonally uneven, it was overall a satisfying watch and was probably my second favourite horror film of 2018. After Hereditary, a film that actively tried to end my life as I watched it.
Halloween Kills picks up immediately after the events of Halloween (2018). It does not feel fresh and tense. I am not sure of what happened with this one, as it feels like it was made by a different team (although I think that it is the same team?). It’s never scary. It’s not clever, although it tries to be. The film’s stab (haha) at thematic touches fall completely flat.
But it is brutal. Really brutal!
If you want to watch a slasher film that is pretty dumb, but made on a big budget with good camera work and extreme scenes of violence, Halloween Kills is easy to recommend. It is exactly that. It isn’t much more than that, is the problem.
Level of Enjoyment: Low-Moderate
A new film from James Wan, who directed the original Saw film and then a billion spookyhouse movies (and Aquaman), Malignant is a movie that I went into deliberately blind because I had heard from many people that it is the craziest movie that they have seen in a long time.
I can’t get too far into what they’re referring to without being spoil-y about it, but… Malignant really fucking delivers. I can’t believe that this movie was made. Much of this film is a typically clunky James Wan spookyhouse movie (but maybe even clunkier than usual, which makes it funnier), and then the film’s final act is an exercise in gonzo insane horror movie filmmaking that left me in hysterics.
It’s so, so, so much fun. I can’t even begin to describe it.
I’m not sure that it is possible to take this film seriously, but taking it seriously would completely suck the fun out of it. It is a riot. Please see this movie. Please give James Wan more money to keep doing something like this every couple of years.
Horror movie of the year?
Level of Enjoyment: Malig-nificent