Halloween Kills (2021)

Quick Synopsis: Michael Myers fucks shit up

Is it possible I’m wrong? I mean, it happens often but usually in a different way than it is for this. Normally with horror films I end up bored and disliking it, but everybody else loves it. This is the opposite, I watched it the first chance I got, and I was amazed throughout. I was watching it and just kept being amazed at what I saw, I loved the plot, the deaths, the universe. I loved the continuation of the story, especially how it felt more like a part 2 than a sequel.

And then I went online and saw all the negative responses to it. A lot of people dislike it. I feel this is another Psycho 2 situation. I prefer that film more than the original because it did something different with the typical formula. It felt like a natural progression of the story and characters, it felt like a real examination into “what happens with this character after that event?”. This felt very similar. It’s an examination into, not so much how characters react to the situation, but how society and a town reacts. It feels more like a psychological study than the first one does (well, technically the second one, but you know what I mean). As much as I do love Halloween (2018), it doesn’t really do much new. This does, with this you feel the horror isn’t just the people on camera at any time, you feel that the horror is going through the whole town. The whole thing feels like a natural progression that leaves me very excited for the next stage.

The main cast is mostly the same, there are a few new additions. I’m not sure whether they were in previous ones or not (the only ones I’ve seen are the two called Halloween), I think one of them is the character who was played by Paul Rudd in one of the earlier ones. In this one he’s played by Anthony Michael Hall, best known from his appearances in many John Hughes movies back in the day. He is weirdly terrifying in this. His heart is in the right place, but from the moment you see the look in his eyes when he says “Evil dies tonight” you know some awful shit is going to happen. That’s what this film does well, it creates a sense of tension that the whole thing feels like a powder keg, and you can see multiple potential sparks that can set it off. You’re never quite sure when it’s going to happen, but you know that when it does it’s going to be big, and it’s going to be awful, and it is.

It does have an issue with “awkward middle film” syndrome. Because you know there’s a third film happening there are certain things which lack tension. You know certain characters will survive because they have to be in the third film. It does pull off an insane third act though, featuring some absolutely BRUTAL kills. That’s to be expected though if you just look at the bodycount. Michaels kills A LOT in this film, and some are more horrific than others. There’s one in particular which says a lot about who Michael is in this film. Sometimes in these films he’s been known for his efficiency, he goes in, kills, leaves. In this there are moments which are basically cold-blooded torture. He’s not killing to achieve anything, he’s killing just to kill. There’s one in particular which is just harrowing to watch, he stabs a woman with a light fixture then, whilst she’s still alive, he grabs her husband and stabs him to death multiple times as she watches. It’s vicious, it’s horrible, it’s……evil.

That’s what Michael is in this film, pure evil. He’s not someone you can root for (which happens a lot with long-running franchises), he’s just pure evil. There are times when the townsfolk aren’t much better, the moment they chase a random person to his death is particularly bad.

So yeah, that’s it. Everybody else hates this film, but I like it. So who are you going to trust, people who do this for a living and know what they are talking about and are familiar with the entire history of the franchise, or me? The answer is simple

Prisoners Of The Ghostland (2021)

Quick Synopsis: A captured bank robber (Nicholas Cage) is tasked with retrieving a Governer’s adopted granddaughter/sex slave in this Japanese-inspired western horror. At one point his testicles get exploded.

Is Nicholas Cage picking films based almost entirely on how fucking strange they are lately? I mean, I’m all for it if it produces stuff like Willy’s Wonderland. That was fun and strange and a one of a kind movie. This was, I dunno. I should like this film, it’s an interesting mesh of genres (western and horror/sci-fi), both of which lend themselves to going weird and out-there. But I just didn’t mesh with this for some reason. I think it’s because when I was watching it all I could think was “I would much rather be playing this and experiencing it that way”. When you do a mash-up of genres like this does you need to do it in a way that highlights certain things from both genres which best suit the story you’re telling. The story should be driving the genres, but this feels like it was done the opposite way. It feels like they got the genres, made them into cars, drove them into each other and then made a script based on the result. The film itself is too surface level, there’s nothing underneath the obvious what you see. No meaning, no deep beauty to it. It feels so in debt to its stylistic forefathers that it doesn’t seem to have an identity of its own. Outside of “modern Japanese western” it’s incredibly flat and one dimensional. Visually it’s not that exciting either. I mean, it’s got a lot of colours, but they just don’t POP. If you look at a film like Blade Runner and how they use colour it’s a visual delight. In comparison this just looks like a Lite Brite a few minutes before the batteries die.

I really don’t have a lot to say about this, because there is nothing to say. I won’t remember this film for too long after I saw it. Maybe this is partly because I watched it at the “wrong” time. I feel this is supposed to be watched with friends while drunk, cheering and hollering at the screen. I watched it on my own in the middle of the day. But I watched Come True in a similar situation and that pulled me in.

The issue is that there’s nothing particularly wrong with this film (although Bill Mosely’s performance seems kind of wrong, he never feels like a character who is in control of the situation, he always looks too nervous and jumpy), there’s just not much I could find to particularly be too invested in. It just exists. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a big mac, fine in the moment, but I would never really go out and hunt it down except if I was drunk. A film like this should not be quite as boring as this one is.

No One Gets Out Alive (2021)

Quick Synopsis: An undocumented woman from Mexico moves into a dilapidated building run by a guy who is obviously hiding something sinister

This film is an acquired taste, I’ll say that upfront now. There’s a chance you won’t like this. Maybe you won’t like the pacing, maybe you won’t like the horror style, maybe you’re an asshole and won’t like that the main character is an undocumented citizen. Either way, there is a lot that could possibly rub you the wrong way. I dug it though. There’s something so weirdly timeless about this movie. I think I’ve mentioned in the past that some horror films seem more like ghost stories read by candlelight. This is definitely one of those. Also, despite it being set in America, it feels weirdly British. Maybe it’s because of the “ghost story” like feeling to it. Maybe it’s the architecture. Maybe it’s something as simple as the fact some of the other people are Romanian etc, which seems more like something you’ll find in England than the US (or maybe it’s because it’s based on a book by a British author. Who knows?)

I’ll admit, I’m not that familiar with the work of the director, Santiago Menghini, but now I want to be. He makes some great choices in this which really enhance it. There are some decisions where nothing was needed, but he did something anyway, and it makes it better. The best example is when someone is being killed on the other side of a door, and a tooth flies under the door. Most people wouldn’t think to do that, but it really adds to it and shows a great attention to those little details that make a film great.

It’s not just him though, the performers are all great too. It’s a cast of people I’m unfamiliar with and that helped it. It felt less like a movie, and more like we were witnessing these events. Cristina Rodlo, in particular, is a revelation, giving her character the broken strength needed to make it work (and make the flashback make sense with her characterisation).

This is an incredibly powerful story. The basic set up and characters would work in a drama series. It’s only the specific situation that is definite horror. That helps it as it makes it feel like the story is happening in reality, as opposed to some horror films which seem to take place in a horror movie universe.

I think this is a film you need at watch at some point, but not one you need to rush out and see immediately. It’s not as good as, say, The Power, but it’s not as frustrating a watch as Lucky. It’s a netflix original, so hopefully will stay on the platform for a very long time. So if you want something to watch with your friends who don’t enjoy gorey or incredibly disturbing horror films this halloween, it would be hard to go wrong with this. The non horror parts are engaging enough to keep everybody watching involved.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)

Quick synopsis: Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren help a man suspected of murder who claims he was possessed by demons.

It would be unfair of me not to preface this with the knowledge that I am not happy with the very existence of this film. Fine, you can do schlocky horror films about demon possessions, but this is based on a real event. And not just “these people claimed their house was haunted, here’s what happened”. It’s a murder. Someone died, there are people in that town who remember that event. The victim probably still has living relatives so to trivialise the murder seems super sketchy. It’s presenting as fact the notion that the murderer was possessed by demons. I’ve had similar issues with these films in the past. They uncritically present the “yup, what this family said was definitely true” side without exploring whether they were in fact bullshitting or not. Fun fact, when someone called the Warrens out on their BS, they responded the problem with the skeptics is “they don’t base anything on God”. That’s their default position, so it’s already coming from a place of bias.

So, what about the film itself? This is technically only the third, but there has been numerous spin-offs too so it’s more like the 8th. I have seen all except the last Annabelle film, and I can barely remember anything from them except for bits and pieces from the second one (probably because I reviewed it). I remember enough to say that these films have no idea about escalation, every single case is presented as “the most deadly they have ever seen”. This has happened a lot now and I’m starting to get bored of it. There doesn’t seem to be an endgame, it’s all the same thing again and again.

This film itself? It’s not great. As I’ve said, I can’t remember too much of the previous ones, but this has been the worst of the main series by a long way. Part of it is the directing, this is the first of the main three not directed by James Wan (who was probably busy with Malignant), so it’s lacking the one thing you can normally depend on for this franchise: a slick style that glosses over a lot of the cracks the series has.

Without Wan’s directing to distract you, the flaws are more apparent. It’s just not an engaging story. It’s muddled with no clear idea of what the focus is. It’s also weirdly frustrating at parts. Shying away from things you actually want to see. The murderers lawyer points out that claiming demonic possession as a defence is a stupid idea, the Warrens tell her “come to our house for dinner and we’ll show you the evidence, we’ll prove it to you that demonic possession is real and dangerous”. It then cuts to the courtroom. So we don’t see what convinced her. What a fucking cop out.

There’s another moment which was a little odd. The film has a doctor utter the words “Yes it was a heart attack, and not a mild one I’m afraid”. Something about that line seems weird and I can’t put my finger on it. It just feels like it’s downplaying it somewhat, a really weird sentence that sounds wrong somehow.

There’s a moment where they go straight from “we need to find him, he’s in danger” to Blondie. I was going to criticise the use of Blondie as the segue as it was an incredibly bad use of it and ruined a tense line. But the director makes up for it by using it for a REALLY good jump scare, bringing the music WAY down until the character is approached and bringing it up again. Masterful and shows what the director can do. But then they use it in another scare and just slow it down, and it’s not as effective. There are some good directing ideas here, but not enough to sustain it to the end.

And lets talk about the ending. They convince the court of the possession so the guy only gets manslaughter. Everybody cheers. We then get text telling us what happened and it’s like “Yaaay this person who definitely killed someone got released after serving only 5 years, and didn’t receive any medical help.” This is supposed to be a happy ending. Knowing that a killer is now living a happy life is not a happy ending to me. Especially since the “he was possessed by demons” robs him of taking any responsibility for it.

Don’t Breathe 2 (2021)

Quick synopsis: A blind veteran has to defend a young girl from people who want to kidnap her.

I went into this knowing there was a chance I wouldn’t like it. I didn’t like the first film, mainly because I saw it as just a group of terrible people being awful, I had nobody to root for and my main hope was that the winner would be a gas leak under the house.

It was clear that the reaction to The Blind Man from the first one meant that a sequel would turn him into an anti-hero. It’s a bit weird as the first film tried so hard to make him hateful so when you’re watching this that is always in the back of your mind. It’s like in Cruella where no matter what she does you know she’s capable of attempting to skin dogs alive. Only for it to be comparable to this she would have had to have kidnapped and raped them too, now I haven’t seen the original animated 101 Dalmatians, but I’m fairly sure she didn’t do that (maybe in the original book).

This feels like it’s trying very hard to give him redemption. It even has a character say

“you’re a bad man, a man who’s done terrible things. At least you think that, I’m the same”.

No, but he actually is evil. He’s not an anti-hero. The previous film, again, had him forcibly impregnate someone. I’m all for morally ambiguous characters but there is a limit. There are some evils you can’t be redeemed from, and what he did is one of them. It would be like having a film called Hitler 2: Electric Boogaloo, where it turns out he faked his death and now runs a dance club in Argentina where he helps youths stay out of trouble and fall in love.

Now, onto this film itself. It’s……it’s so forgettable. I would have rather it be bad than be as bland as this is. It’s nothing. It’s a film which if I didn’t make notes I would REALLY struggle to come up with a summary at the end of the year. The characters aren’t that memorable, the situation is cliche, and most of the dialogue seems very first draft.

On the plus side, it’s quite well directed in parts. This is the directorial debut of Rodo Sayagues, and he already seems experienced in it. The best parts of this film are due to him. There’s a tracking shot in this which belongs in a much better film. There are a few issues with cohesion and clarity, but for a first-time film this is incredibly strong and great showcase for what he could do.

Stephen Lang continues to do a great job as the lead, but he still reminds me too much of Kevin Nash for me to be entirely comfortable.

Overall, it’s hard to recommend this, but I do say as someone who went into the film with expectations to dislike it. Maybe if it was a standalone film I would have been more appreciative of it. But as it is it’s so incredibly nothing that it’s hard to overcome my expectations.

Malignant (2021)

Quick synopsis: Madison (Annabelle Wallis) is a pregnant woman living in Seattle with her abusive partner. She starts receiving visions of people being murdered and………..actually you know what? A synopsis would not help you that much here. Just watch the trailer, then watch the film. It’s fucking strange.

I watched this on the 25th September, and I still haven’t properly gathered my thoughts about it. It’s something unlike anything else you will see this year. One of the most unique films and I’m still not sure how it got made and given a wide release. It’s unlike anything else I’ve seen this year, but also has a weird sense of familiarity. It’s the kind of film I may not buy, but I do want to see again just to experience it.

It’s a really strange film, incredibly uneven. There are moments where it looks slick as hell and incredibly well produced, but then moments where it looks really cheap and kind of silly. I have never both enjoyed and been disappointed at the same time as much as I have with this. Some of it feels like it’s a tribute to horror movies of time past, there’s a definite air of the giallo horror movies of the 70s and 80s, but also very reminiscent of the early horror movies of Peter Jackson or Sam Raimi. It mostly works, but there’s one moment which is supposed to be horrifying but I heard laughter in the screening I went to.

One thing that is pretty even throughout is the tone. It’s consistently uneven. There are some sub-plots here which definitely could have been cut. Chief among them is a romance sub-plot that felt so unnaturally shoe-horned in I wanted to hit both characters with a cheese grater and tell them to stop being so damn horny. It might work if the performances are better, but they’re incredibly flat a lot of the time. So wooden they might as well be an IKEA shelving unit.

Now onto the good. The music is great. Both in terms of the songs picked, and the original score. It’s incredibly brutal in parts, not shying away in situations when lesser films would.

And the third act? It’s the cinematic equivalent of throwing lasagne against the wall and playing in the mess it’s created. It’s chaotic, it’s strange, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

The visuals are brilliant in parts. Some of the effects aren’t great, but the actual look and colour schemes are beautiful. It says a lot about both this film, and how much of a pretentious dick that I am, that there are a few scenes in this where I thought “wow, that use of focus and shadow is very Citizen Kane”. There are so many shots here which could have been a poster.

So in summary go see it. You may love it, you may hate it, but you will be fascinated by it and feel yourself unable to turn away. I am so glad something like this can get made, I am all about this kind of big-ish budget experimental cinema. A truly risky move from director James Wan, but one I feels pays off.

Censor (2021)

Quick Synopsis: A film censor (Niamh Algar) is convinced a horror movie she is watching is linked to the disappearance of her sister in this throwback horror directed and written by Prano Bailey-Bond

This is a strange film. It’s essentially a love letter to 80s horror movies of a specific type, the ones with gore so exaggerated it was obviously fake. The way it’s done is masterful, it would have been okay if they told this like a modern film, and made it feel like a 2021 film, it still would have worked. But the fact that the director used film-making techniques to make it FEEL like it was from the 80s REALLY helped it. It sets it’s tone very early, using low-tech dated logos. Changing the logos can be a great way to get people IN early, it allows you to set the tone immediately and I wish more films did it as it seems like the only genres that do are comedies, occasionally horrors do but not often.

That feeling permeates the entire film. It feels like it’s not just from the 80s, but from a very specific time in the 80s, when video nasties were a concern and horror had an underground boom, where cheaply made slashers were everywhere and being sold in weird video shops. It brings to mind not only the time, but also those films. I mentioned this was done by the way it looked, but the sound also helped. It has a weird lo-fi soundtrack that really suits it.

The whole thing just FEELS like it’s from another time. Even the script feels like a throwback. In a modern film it would have been death throughout. This is more about setting a tone, all building up to a murderous scene of carnage and horror. And WHAT an ending, it plays with reality beautifully and ends in a way that’s both beautiful and bloody. This is a horror based around the characters, the scenes on their own don’t mean much. But because you’ve grown to love these characters, know their backstories etc, you GET the ending. You get why it happened and what it means, and why it hits as horrifyingly and beautifully as it does.

It’s not just the directing etc, the performances are great too. Niahm Algar looks broken throughout and it’s amazing to watch. Even when she’s saying things she’s certain about, her face still seems unsure. It’s perfect for the character and I want to see her in more stuff. She’s backed up by a group of performers who are more known among British sitcom fans, featuring stars of The Thick Of It, Nathan Barley, and Alan Partridge. It’s definitely a showcase for the talent of Algar though. Occasionally you get a performer who you truly feel is representing the directors vision, and I feel Algar is doing this for Bailey-Bond. Her performance feels like it suits the character, the film, everything about it. I really hope the two of them work together in the future as they compliment each other wonderfully.

I also want to see more from Bailey-Bond. This is her debut feature film and it’s incredibly strong. It’s like the work of someone who’s three or four films into their career. She’s done a few shorts which are now on my list to watch. (Man Vs. Sand, The Trip, and Nasty). The best parts of this film are due to her, and I’m glad that unique voices like hers are finally being amplified.

It’s hard to discuss this movie and why you should watch it without spoiling moments of it. I normally have no objections to spoiling plot points, but I feel I can’t for this as it will severely impact your viewing experience. This is a film that needs to be watched as blind as possible. You need it to unfold as you watch it and “enjoy”.

Candyman (2021)

Quick Synopsis: An artist delves into the Candyman mythos and it starts to slowly take over his life.

I will freely admit, I haven’t seen any of the original Candyman films, so I am going into this mostly blind. Pretty much all I know is the basic plot, and that Tony Todd is in it (or to give him his full name: Tony Freaking Todd). That might have made it harder for me to enjoy this film as there are quite a few returning characters who I just didn’t get. On the other hand, if I did know, then it might have ruined one of the “twists” as it would have been obvious what had really happened, so it would have been only an internal reveal, the audience already aware.

I’m not really sure who this was aimed at, the lengths they go to to include all those references to the original make me think it’s aimed at seasoned fans of the franchise. But the fact it was advertised based on creating something new, that it didn’t talk about a “return” made it seem new, even the name made it seem like a new start and a reboot. Compare this to Halloween. Which firmly established itself as a sequel that ignored all but the first film. I also hadn’t seen any Halloween films before I saw that one, but that did a much better job of establishing who the character is, and what he does. This doesn’t really do a good job of establishing what it is the character can actually do. It focuses a lot on “say his name and he’ll appear”, but it doesn’t establish whether he feels physical pain, whether he can be reasoned with, or even deal that much with the mirrors. The character mostly exists in mirrors, unable to be seen in the real world. This means that the film is missing that core aspect of a horror film: the fightback. At no point does any character even begin to look like they can fight back, there’s no “will they survive” to any of the deaths as you know they won’t. So there’s no tension, every death is the equivalent of a train approaching somebody tied to a railway track, you know they’re going to die so the slow nature of it just draws out the inevitable.

It’s not as though the film itself is slow and drawn out, there are moments where it’s painfully rushed. 90 minutes is not long enough to tell a story like this. The film has to do A LOT. It has to introduce the main character in his normal life, then introduce the lore, have the character be uncertain then be presented with evidence, then research it more etc. You need to do a lot for a film like this, and that requires time, and this film just doesn’t have it.

The third act in particular really suffers from the rushed nature. The third act reveal could really work, and the concept itself is exciting and could lead to a great sequel. But the way it’s handled in this is shockingly bad, with REALLY important details rushed over in a sentence or two, so the true implications of the reveal don’t have time to breathe. I’m not asking for a five hour horror film, just another 15 minutes or so would have really helped this.

Now onto the good, it looks amazing. Nia DaCosta is lined up to do The Marvels film, and I’m really excited about what she could bring visually to it. There’s some very cool concepts in this, the idea of the shadow puppets being used to tell some of the stories is interesting, bringing to mind the works of Lotte Reiniger. Her use of angles too are interesting, making even standard scenes have a sense of dread. It’s also suitably gory, and the score is pretty damn intense too. Would I recommend this? It’s hard to say, I feel if you go see a few films a year, maybe skip it. If you want to just sit and be scared, go see it. Also, if you’re interested in film-making I’d go to see it purely so you can study the techniques they use. I’d say it’s more important than it is good.

It did give me one of the stupidest comments I’ve seen on film twitter though:

Yeah, stupid woke Hollywood, taking a story about a former slaves son who was lynched and tortured for falling in love with a white woman, and somehow making it about race. What’s next? Making a film where we actually are supposed to sympathise with the creature in Frankenstein? Or a Nightmare On Elm Street film where it turns out Freddy Krueger is actually the villain just because he kills people? Snowflakes!

Escape Room: Tournament Of Champions (2021)

Quick synopsis: A group of “escape room” winners are dragged into another one and picked off one by one

I reviewed the original a few years ago (as seen here) and I could pretty much post that review again, just take out a few specifics, the main points still hold up. The geography of the whole thing still raises questions, deaths are still seemingly forgotten too quickly, and it still seems too bloodless.

The story is better though, with some genuine surprises, including one comeback from the first film who everyone assumed was dead. This leads to a slight problem though. It’s emphasised “unless you see someone die, they’re probably not dead” to justify someone coming back from the dead after sinking in sand. Smart idea, just one problem. Two people died from that method, so is the other person still alive too? We’ll never know. I mean, we might know in the next film, but probably not.

And there will be a next film, and THAT is the biggest weakness. The first film ended with “but the company that arranged the killer Escape Rooms is still out there, and are planning their deaths by forcing them onto another Escape Room on a plane”. This film ends with “the company that arranged the killer Escape Rooms is still out there, and have forced them onto another Escape Room on a plane”. Yup, totally worth spending 90 minutes to get to that point. The worst part about it is that you KNOW it’s coming. The company have been shown to be all powerful so you know there’s no way this ends it. It doesn’t help that the way they’ve organised the traps feels cheap. I can’t remember if this was the case in the first one but in this one it’s like the games aren’t meant to be solved. Not in terms of difficulty, but in terms of the rooms are designed to work against the players. If it looks like they’re going anywhere the rules will change. An example of this is a bit in a train where the metal bars are electrified. Tense enough, right? But when the team starts doing well, the power gets turned up and electric bolts start shooting out everywhere. That feels like cheating. That’s the first trap. The rest continue in the same vein. As soon as the group starts figuring out what to do, the game turns against them. It makes the whole thing wildly unsatisfying as it just doesn’t seem fair. So when people fail and die, they don’t do it because they failed the task, they failed because the game cheated. It would be better if they failed due to them actually, you know, failing. If they weren’t smart enough, weren’t quick enough, too impulsive, or don’t follow instructions. Then the deaths feel earned. It’s not entertaining to sit there and think “they’re being competent, but it doesn’t matter as the odds will be unnaturally turned against them”. It’s also not entertaining to see them escape, but know they didn’t actually escape because you saw the “Oh no we didn’t escape, we’re still in the trap” from the next scene in the god damn trailer, thus being the second film in this franchise where all the tension has gone (second in a row).

But it then does the same trick again. After that fake out they have a puzzle involving acid rain, then they go into another room which they escape and take down the entire company exposing them to the world. Except they don’t, that was a trap too, and you knew that. You sensed it coming. The only way the “shock ending” would have actually been a shock is if it didn’t happen. That “none of it matters” feeling overshadows the whole film and stops you being invested in it.

Yup, that was a long fucking way to make a single point, but considering the franchise has taken two films to make that point, I stand by it.

So, how else is this different from the first one? Well this time everybody involved is a survivor from a previous tournament, which is a bit weird because after Ben was thought to have won his in the first one, the organisers said his “reward” was being murdered, and he only survived due to outside interference. If that’s the case for everybody else, then how exactly are their survivors. Also, we know how Ben and Zoey ended up on this train, but how did the rest? That’s an issue with the writing of this film, the new characters feel like that; new characters created for the sequel. They don’t feel like they have a history outside of this film. It’s a shame as the ones who were in the first one feel developed.

Freaky (2020)

Quick Plot Summary: A serial killer (Vince Vaughn) bodyswaps with a teenage girl (Kathryn Newton).

I went into this with high expectations. It was recommended for me, and it was directed (and written) by Christopher Landon, who was responsible for Happy Death Day and it’s sequel, both of which I absolutely loved. On the downside, he also made Scouts Guide To Zombie Apocalypse, which was not great. And a lot of the joy of Happy Death Day was around the character, so there was a chance that without Jessica Rothe this film would be weaker.

My worries were heightened by the complete lack of information I saw. I didn’t see any trailers for it, didn’t see any posters outside. All I saw was one small poster inside the cinema. The only things that gave me hope were:

  • As I said, someone recommending it to me
  • It was covered in a Kill Count video, and I trust that guys judgement.
  • It was delayed. The fact it was delayed, this shows the studio had some faith in it, otherwise they would have just thrown it straight to VOD. This film was shown more faith than Wonder Woman 1984.

It took longer than it should have done for this film to win over my doubts. It’s nowhere near as sharp as Death Day was. There’s a few moments here which could have been cut, and there are also a few things missing. One of which is we don’t really get that much on Vince Vaughn’s character, so when the body swap happens it’s not quite as effective. It works for Vince Vaughn, as we got introduced to Newton’s character and saw a lot of her, so we recognise her personality when Vaughn plays it. But we never get that the other way around. We see him kill a group of teens, but we don’t see him talk to anybody, so we don’t get his personality really. There’s nothing to ground the character personalities so we recognise them after the swap.

We get to see a lot of Vaughn as Vaughn at the very end though, but that’s too late really. Plus, the ending was the weakest part of the film for me. The bodies get swapped back to normal, and he gets put in an ambulance and taken away, but it shows signs that he’s going to recover. THAT’S how it should end. It’s a logical closing point. But the film then continues for another unnecessary scene. It’s a good scene, but it disrupted the flow and would have been better as an ending to a sequel.

Now onto the good, and there’s A LOT of good here. It’s stylish as hell with a unique look that showcases a real love for classic slasher flicks. The dialogue is hilarious, with one exception where a guy responds to “that seems kinda rapey” with “good”. Kind of uncomfortable dialogue, and it makes the character hard to like. No matter what the character does, you can’t unknow what he said. Everyone else is great though, and they’re performed wonderfully. Vaughn plays a great teenage girl, he could be slightly better at mimicking Newton specifically but otherwise he nails it. The real star of the show is Newton, I know her better from Blockers and Detective Pikachu. This is a completely different performance from her. Well it’s two performances really as she’s playing her original character, and Vaughn’s character. She does both great, the insecure teen, and the Myers-esque killer. It’s when she’s the killer where she really shines, giving the character a coldness and determination that is chilling in how effective it is.

There’s one area where this film is clearly superior to Death Day: the kills. It’s MUCH bloodier, it’s aimed at an older audience which allows it to go further with how gory it gets. It also allows it go further with the sex, that’s something that only happens once really, but the way it’s edited is glorious. They cut to the sex scene straight after a death, but it doesn’t feel gratuitous, the way they match-cut them between the two is brilliant and I love it, really shows a proficiency in film-making that I love to see.

So overall, you definitely should see it. It’s fun, slick, and a hell of a watch.