The Odyssey Awards: 2018 Retrospective

As everyone begins to wind down after Christmas, here at JUMPCUT we’re excitedly gearing up for 2019! Before we’re done with 2018 though, we have a few more treats up our sleeve for you, including our most anticipated films of 2019 list and some big news which we’ll be sharing in a few days!

The retrospective features just some of our favourite films this year* (sadly we couldn’t fit them all in!) including A Quiet Place, BlacKkKlansman, Blindspotting, Bumblebee, Hereditary, Widows, Annihilation, Avengers: Infinity War, Love, Simon, and First Man to name but a few.

We’re sure you’ll likely pick up some notable absences from our video, but we aimed to keep it less than 2 minutes long – so not all our choices made the final cut!

We’d love to hear what films you’ve enjoyed this year and if you’ve got your top 10 list firmly nailed, share it with us on Twitter!

 

*based on UK release dates

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Weekend BO Results: ‘The Grinch’s $68m Continues A Record Box Office Year

Written by Dapo Olowu

This weekend, according to Comscore, saw the domestic Box Office for 2018 reach the $10bn mark quicker than any other year in history. Fitting then, that we’d have ‘The Grinch’ steal a massive $67.6m to hit the top spot and continue the trend.

It not only continues a strong year, but a great record for studio Illumination; just one of their nine releases failed to open at number one – 2016s ‘Sing’ peaked at number 2, and ironically stands as the biggest ever film to never reach the top spot (grossing $270.4m domestically).

The Grinch’ is only Illumination’s 6th biggest opening, earning a little under 2012s ‘The Lorax’ ($70.2m). A similar performance would leave ‘The Grinch’ on a respectable domestic total of $206m, although I’m forecasting a bigger gross once the festive period really kicks in. It won’t match the heights of 2000s ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ starring Jim Carrey however, which made a whopping $260m 18 years ago.

The year’s ‘Grinch’ stars the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch as the title character, who plans to steal Christmas away from the residents of Whoville, which include Rashida Jones and Cameron Seely. It may have landed well in the states, but its international release was more muted, earning around $12.7m from 23 markets.

The international sphere was dominated by ‘Venom’, whose $111m opening in China means it’s the country’s second biggest superhero opening of all time, behind ‘Infinity War’ ($191m). ‘Venom’ now sits on a remarkable $676.2m worldwide, and its $4.9m weekend gives it a domestic total thus far of $206.3m.

This wasn’t the only big news of the weekend. Fox’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ fell by just 40% to earn $31.2m in its second weekend – pushing the domestic total to $100m in just two weekends. Now just $14m away from $300m worldwide, it seems as if the years of development hell were worth it in the end for Rami Malek-fronted Queen biopic.

While new release ‘Overlord’s $10.2m opening was nothing special (we did warn about that $38m budget), ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’s $7.8m start was dreadful. Costing $5m more than Paramount’s war-horror ‘Overlord’, ‘Spider’s Web’ will most likely be pulled out of cinemas by the month’s end.

Overlord’ didn’t fair much better, but can take solace in a stronger critical reception, and a likely finish around the $30m mark. Finally, Amazon’s Oscar bait drama ‘Beautiful Boy’, starring Steve Carrell, Timothee Chalamet, and Amy Ryan (and produced by Brad Pitt) earned $1.5m from 840 cinemas as expected.

After its big opening, how will ‘The Grinch’ do against child-friendly competition in the form of ‘Fantastic Beasts 2’ next weekend? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

 

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Weekend BO Predictions: Illumination To Light Up Box Office As ‘The Grinch’ Takes $66m

Written by Dapo Olowu

Christmas comes early this Box Office weekend, with ‘The Grinch’ hoping to snatch any holiday cheer away from the other movie hopefuls. The animated remake of ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ from 2000 (itself based off of Dr. Seuss’ 1957 book) features the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role, alongside Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, and Cameron Seely.

Illumination Entertainment, the creators of the ‘Despicable Me’ and ‘Minions’ franchise (as well as ‘The Lorax’, ‘The Secret Life of Pets’, and the incoming ‘Shrek’ reboot), helm this on behalf of parent company Universal, and kept the budget down to a respectable $75m. Such is the skill of the company’s production team that none of their films have ever cost more than $80m (that being last year’s ‘Despicable Me 3’).

In comparison, rivals Pixar’s latest offering ‘Incredibles 2’ earlier this year cost a whopping $200m. This hasn’t stopped Illumination from raking in the cash – both ‘Despicable Me 3’ and ‘Minions’ topped $1bn worldwide, and although ‘The Grinch’ probably won’t hit these heights, we’re still expecting big numbers.

Its so-so 65% on the Tomatometer won’t dampen audience excitement for this, although previous weeks of kid-friendly cinema might. In the past month alone, U.S. cinemagoers have been treated to ‘The Nutcracker’, ‘Goosebumps 2’, and ‘Smallfoot’, which may have already scratched the necessary itch.

Regardless, we’re being more optimistic so while ‘Despicable Me’ opened to $56.4m in 2010, we at JUMPCUT forecast around $66m, just below that of 2012s ‘The Lorax’, Illumination’s other Dr. Seuss adaptation ($70.2m). ‘The Grinch’ will surely then get off to a bright start by Sunday evening, and although it may not be stealing the hearts of critics, it’ll have no problem taking first place in the Box Office.

Of course, ‘The Grinch’ isn’t the only new release this weekend. J.J. Abrams and Paramount release ‘Overlord’, an action-horror set in WW2-stricken France. A big question surrounding this film is its link to the ‘Cloverfield’ franchise, and while Abrams has denied it in the past, the creepy alien/monster theme from the previous ‘Cloverfield’ films continue to rear their head(s) in this one.

Overlord’ is directed by Julius Avery and follows American soldiers (played by Wyatt Russell, Jovan Adepo, John Magaro and others) who discover secret Nazi experiments taking place during the war. Critically, it’s a hit, with 89% on Rotten Tomatoes, and can also take solace in the fact that its audience couldn’t be further away from this weekend’s big hitter ‘The Grinch’s if it tried.

The R-rated horror does however come with a somewhat-hefty $38m budget which, when compared to some of the horrors we’ve seen recently, is a bit bloated. Still, the film has a good chance of opening strongly, especially in the face of nearest competitor ‘Halloween’s recent woes (it fell a massive 66% last weekend). We’re thinking a $20m-ish 3-day start, a solid opening for such a budget.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web’ has a similar budget of $40m, but won’t share ‘Overlord’s Box Office success this weekend. Sure, it has the brand loyalty that comes with ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ book franchise, but considering the last film opened to just $12.8m (although ended at $232.6m worldwide) and starred Rooney Mara, not Claire Foy, as Lisbeth Salander, we can’t see a major shock happening hee.

Spider’s Web’ stars Foy as Salander, a computer hacker who tries to rescue and seek vengeance for women who’ve been victims of violence. It also features LaKeith Stanfield, Sylvia Hoeks, and Stephen Merchant, a completely new cast from the 2011 prequel directed by David Fincher and starring Mara and Daniel Craig.

Now helmed by Fede Álvarez (2016sDon’t Breathe’) and produced on half the budget after Sony decided to go for a soft reboot (after the 2011 film was itself a reboot of a Swedish trilogy starring Noomi Rapace), ‘Spider’s Web’ will aim to open in the region of $10m. While its predecessor opened during the Christmas holiday period and benefited from ‘The Greatest Showman’-like legs, ‘Spider’s Web’s performance will now almost entirely depend on a good audience reception in coming weeks.

Finally, we have ‘Beautiful Boy’ starring Steve Carrell and Timothee Chalamet. The drama is ramping up its cinema count by 300 to 840, and should earn just $1.3m to keep it outside the top ten.

Four new wide releases but one clear winner: ‘The Grinch’. Is Illumination becoming a serious competitor to Disney/Pixar? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

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Weekend BO Report: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Delivers A Regal $50m+ In Mixed Weekend

Not since 9th February have we seen all three new wide releases finish on the podium in a Box Office weekend. That weekend, ‘Fifty Shades Freed’, ‘Peter Rabbit’, and ‘The 15:17 to Paris’ took home the medals for Universal, Sony, and Warner Bros. This time around, the other half of Hollywood’s big six studios delivered the goods, as Fox’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, Disney’s ‘The Nutcracker’, and Paramount’s ‘Nobody Fool’ earned $51.1m, $20.4m, and $13.7m alike to top the charts.

We kick things off with Rami Malek’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, which beat our optimistic $45m forecast by grossing just $1m less than its entire budget. Of course, this doesn’t mean it’s already broken-even, but considering the $73m earned from overseas 64 markets this weekend (and the $12.5m already brought in from the U.K.’s early release) giving the Queen biopic a royal worldwide total of $143m, it’s surely close.

Bohemian Rhapsody’ follows Freddie Mercury (Malek) and the rise of rock band Queen from 1970 up until the famous Live-Aid concert of 1985. Understandably, its opening weekend audience reflected the time period, with 78% being over the age of 25. Gender wasn’t nearly as skewed however, with women slightly edging the split with 51%.

The hope now is for a strong Box Office run in the face of little upcoming competition. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, Fox’s 2nd biggest opening of the year (behind ‘Deadpool 2), will now look towards recent music-centric movies like ‘Mamma Mia 2’ and ‘A Star is Born’, which have gone down like a treat with cinemagoers, earning $120.8m and $165.5m each. A performance like ‘Mamma Mia 2’s would see the film finishing a little over $170m; a real possibility considering its ‘A’ on Cinemascore, and surely a welcome one for a studio whose only hits this year come from the aforementioned ‘Deadpool 2’, and ‘Maze Runner 3’.

While ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ over-delivered this weekend, ‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms’ neutralised any possible Box Office-forecast gains, bringing in a paltry $20.4m. It didn’t fare much better internationally, earning $38.5m for a $58.5m worldwide start. The story here lies in an over-inflated budget of $130m, partly caused by a production that saw over a month’s worth of reshoots, resulting in the film having two directors, with Joe Johnston receiving a credit alongside Lasse Hallström.

It wasn’t just this that doomed the film – a $20.4m start would barely suffice for a film costing half that amount. Its poor release date (too early for Christmas, too soon after a series of PG competitors) is compounded by the fact that two more Disney releases in ‘Wreck it Ralph 2’ and ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ open by the end of the year, as well as ‘Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch’ and ‘Fantastic Beasts 2’ hitting cinemas in the next week, which should all stop any possibilities of ‘Nutcracker’ becoming a sleeper hit.

To make matters worse, its 34% on Rotten Tomatoes was backed up by an average ‘B+’ on Cinemascore. At best, it can hope for legs like another Disney bomb ‘A Wrinkle in Time’, whose 3x multiplier would give ‘Nutcracker’ a domestic total of just $61m.

It continues what’s been a strange year for Disney. On one hand, they’ve released record-breakers in ‘Infinity War’, ‘Black Panther’, and ‘Incredibles 2’, but also some of the biggest flops in recent history in ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ and ‘Solo’. ‘The Nutcracker’ is surely added to the latter pile, which Disney hopes to keep at just 3 films for the rest of the year.

We’ve had a hit, we’ve had a flop, now for somewhere in the middle. In third place this Box Office weekend was Tyler Perry’s latest foray, ‘Nobody’s Fool’. Made on a $19m budget and earning $14m in its 3-day debut, ‘Nobody’s Fool’ met its estimates and but never really exceeded its expectations. Perhaps it was the lack of ‘Tyler Perry’ (or ‘Madea’) in the title, or the adverse effects of having Tiffany Haddish lead yet another comedy (‘Night School’ is still out in 1,300 cinemas), but could this have grossed more?

Probably not. Let’s not forget, this is a solid start for the R-rated comedy, whose gross is just a little under that of this year’s ‘Tag’ ($14.9m), but comfortably above ‘The Happytime Murders’ ($9.5m). Paramount will hope the film is less like previous release ‘Action Point’ ($2.4m opening, $5.1m domestic total) and more towards ‘Book Club’ ($13.6m opening, $68.6m domestic total), although its poor critical reception threatens any real chance of such a leggy run.

Three new films slot into the top three slots. How far can ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ go? How badly will ‘The Nutcracker’ do? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Facebook – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

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Weekend BO Predictions: Disneys Bites The Dust As ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Opens at $45m

Written by Dapo Olowu

Well, they did say they would rock us.

As U.S. cinemagoers gear up for the release of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, it’s easy to forget the other 2 new films in ‘The Nutcracker’ and ‘Nobody’s Fool’ wanting to ‘break free’ from the musical biopic’s shadow. Still, ‘the show must go on’, and ‘BR’ is destined to be the ‘killer queen’ out of a bunch of ‘under pressure’ releases.

‘Don’t stop me now’ readers, the puns are out in full force, as are Rami Malek and co. in 20th Century Fox’s latest offering. Such is the anticipation that its rotten 58% on the Tomatometer will merely dent its opening gross – a gross that has steadily risen over the past month.

A recent Fandango report claims that ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’s presales outstrip that of ‘Mamma Mia 2’ and ‘A Star is Born’, two high-earning musicals released this year. Considering ‘MM2’, the sequel to one of the biggest musicals of all time, opened to $35m, and ‘A Star is Born’ earned $43m in its first 3 days, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’s gross could be truly massive.

To be specific, we’re predicting $45m, which could even rise as the weekend draws close. This isn’t surprising considering the film’s production has been on industry lips since 2010. Back then, it was ‘Borat’ star Sacha Baron Cohen cast as Freddie Mercury, although creative differences led to his departure. After Ben Whishaw (don’t ask) replaced him and then too quickly left, the film was batted around for a while until Fox fast-tracked it last year, with Malek as the lead.

On-set troubles with director Bryan Singer, including an ‘unexpected unavailability’, led to his firing the replacement, Dexter Fletcher, to complete the last few weeks of production. Still, it’s been rather smooth sailing in the aftermath, as negative PR’s been kept to a minimum (Singer’s even still got the directing credit). With a budget of $52m, the film, also starring Lucy Boynton, Aiden Gillen, Tom Hollander, and Mike Myers, should have 0 problems proclaiming ‘We Are The Champions’ by Sunday night.

If ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’s a success, then ‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms’ is a Disney disaster. It won’t be for the first time this year either, what with ‘Solo’ and ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ (maybe even add ‘Christopher Robin’ in there too). What makes ‘The Nutcracker’ so interesting, however, is the fact its release directly follows those in a similar mould. In the last month alone we’ve seen ‘Goosebumps 2’ and ‘The House with a Clock in its Walls’ two (albeit horror) PG fantasy films which have opened around the $20m mark.

Throw in the aforementioned ‘AWiT’, alongside ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ and ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ from recent memory all grossing similar amounts in their first 3 days, and a $21m opening was almost destined for Disney’s latest release. On a medium-sized budget, this wouldn’t be the worst situation to be in, but Disney spent an eye-watering $130m+ producing this bomb, which will struggle to remain in the top ten in a few weeks.

The critical reception doesn’t help its case either; its 35% on Rotten Tomatoes makes this Disney’s worst-rated film since last summer’s ‘Pirates of the Caribbean 5’. Like the Pirates franchise, ‘The Nutcracker’ stars Kiera Knightley, as well as MacKenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, Jack Whitehall, and Miranda Hart. It follows the story of ‘The Nutcracker and the Mouse King’ from 1816 about a young girl who finds a magical Nutcracker doll. Oh how Disney could do with some magic in the Box Office right about now.

The final release of the weekend is Tyler Perry’s ‘Nobody’s Fool’. Released by Paramount, this $19m-budgeted comedy stars Tika Sumpter, Tiffany Haddish, and Whoopi Goldberg, and follows Tanya (Haddish) potentially being catfished in an online relationship.

If its premise doesn’t drastically differentiate itself from the rest of this weekend’s releases, its R-rating surely does, and by having the smallest of the 3 films’ cinema counts with just 2,400, its doomed to be the lowest earner of the newbies this weekend.

However, a flop it is not. Being the first Tyler Perry movie in nearly forever not to have his name in the title doesn’t change the fact that since 2007, just one of his 16 films (yes, 16) has opened under $15m. Love him or loathe him, he’s got an audience, as does Haddish, so we see this one starting solidly with $14m.

Three new films but only one is the victor. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ looks to top the charts with some ease, but will it really beat ‘A Star is Born’s $42.9m opening? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

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Weekend BO Report: Double Trouble For ‘Halloween’ In A Record October

Written by Dapo Olowu

It’s official: October 2018 is the biggest October on record, but that’s no real surprise considering the B.O. feast we’ve had this month. After both ‘Venom’ and ‘Halloween’ became the two biggest film openings in the month’s history with $80.3m and $76.2m alike, it was only a matter of time until 2014s record of $757.1m would be smashed. As we speak, October 2018 has grossed around $780m, and should reach $800m by the month’s end.

As mentioned above, a large chunk of that came from the Blumhouse horror phenomenon ‘Halloween’. This weekend, the slasher, directed by David Gordon Green (of ‘Pineapple Express’ fame), scared away any competition for a second consecutive number one finish, earning $31.4m in the process.

Being the biggest slasher film in U.S. history (beating ‘Scream’s $103m from 1996) with $126.1m hasn’t stopped ‘Halloween’s appetite for a large body-count, as it aims to become one of the biggest R-rated horrors ever stateside. Currently 6th in the all-time U.S. list, it has its sights realistically on ‘Get Out’ whose $176m leaves it 3rd, and, barring a freak collapse, ‘Halloween’ should fly past this in the next month. On the international front, its near-$50m gross puts the film just $30m short of a $200m total.

Of course, it wasn’t just ‘Halloween’ that contributed to the record month. Both ‘A Star is Born’, with $148.6m, and ‘Venom’ with $187.1m hold nearly 50% of this October’s gross alone, and their latest weekends of $14m and $10.7m delivered a welcome second and third place finish, mirroring last weekend’s efforts. What’s truly astounding are their global grosses: while ‘ASIB’ has smashed through the $250m mark, ‘Venom’ has just reached $500m, with its Chinese release coming next weekend.

From the impressive to the dismal, as Gerard Butler’s newest release ‘Hunter Killer’ sank to just $6.7m in its first 3 days. The $40m-budgeted action-thriller brought in half of the JUMPCUT forecast to join the list of other 2018 B.O. bombs. It’s Butler’s lowest opening since 2012s ‘Playing For Keeps’, and although it’s A- on Cinemascore may provide some legs, a domestic finish of $20m won’t save this from being lost at sea.

It’s a gross that continues a relatively tough year for Lionsgate, who long for the days of ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Twilight’. This year, their biggest domestic earner was last month’s ‘A Simple Favor’, which has seen just $53.2m so far. Disappointments like ‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’ ($40m budget, $72m worldwide gross) have been offset by cheaper, enjoyable comedies like ‘ASF’ and ‘Overboard’ ($12m budget, $91.2m worldwide gross), but this still leaves the studio relying on November’s ‘Robin Hood’, to really bring in the cash.

As expected, A24’s ‘Mid90s’ earned $3m from 1,200 cinemas to grab 10th spot, above newbies ‘Indivisible’ and ‘Johnny English Strikes Again’, who grossed $1.5m and $1.6m each. ‘Mid90s’, written and directed by Jonah Hill, opened wide just below that of last year’s ‘Lady Bird’ ($4.1m), but similar to A24s ‘Eighth Grade’ ($2.9m) from July. A similar performance would leave the critically-acclaimed indie film with a total domestic gross of $14m, a solid (if unspectacular) B.O. gross.

A record October, and strong weekends for ‘Halloween’, ‘ASIB’, and ‘Venom’. What does November, with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘The Grinch’, and ‘Robin Hood’ to come, have in store? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE

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Weekend BO Predictions: It’s a ‘Halloween’ Holdover As Its Second Week Promises $33m+

Written by Dapo Olowu

The only major wide release this weekend comes in the form of ‘Hunter Killer’, the Summit Entertainment action-thriller and Gerard Butler’s latest vehicle. It’s quite literally a vehicle; mainly set on a submarine, the film draws inspiration from such cinematic classics as ‘Crimson Tide’ and ‘The Hunt for Red October’, but won’t be able to sink ‘Halloween’ in its second weekend.

The slasher sequel looks to draw blood again in its sophomore weekend, with a gross close to $33m. After securing the second biggest October weekend with $76.2m, ‘Halloween’ remains on track to hit the $100m mark by Friday evening. Entering the weekend of its namesake should also welcome a smaller-than-expected drop in the mid-fifties, comfortably placing it above newbie ‘Hunter Killer’.

The pre-Halloween weekend is usually one of little fanfare, demonstrated by last year’s weekend winner ‘Jigsaw’, which topped the charts with only $16.6m. In fact, ‘Halloween’s gross should mark the biggest pre-Halloween weekend #1 in 7 years, since ‘Puss in Boots’ opened to $34.1m in 2011.

Moving onto ‘Hunter Killer’ now and the film, directed by Donovan Marsh, follows a group of Navy SEALs who must rescue the kidnapped Russian president. Alongside Butler, it features a strong cast of Common, Linda Cardellini, and Oscar-winner Gary Oldman, but can’t seem to make best of use of the talent at its disposable, with just 36% on the Tomatometer (but an audience score of 84%).

Will the conflicting critical reception harm its opening? With limited competition in the action sphere (only ‘Venom’ in its 4th weekend marks any real serious opposition), ‘Hunter Killer’ may have real room to breathe (or swim). An opening around $13.6m is optimistic but possible, a gross similar to Butler’s last 2 films ‘Den of Thieves’ ($15.2m opening) and ‘Geostorm’ ($13.7m).

The next release comes in the form of Jonah Hill’s directorial debut,‘Mid90s’, the critically-acclaimed comedy-drama produced by indie darlings A24. Starring Sunny Suljic, Lucas Hedges, and Katherine Waterston, its release into 1,200 cinemas comes after a successful limited cinema roll-out last weekend. The film grossed over $258k from just 4 cinemas, earning one of the best per-cinema averages of the year thus far with $64.5k.

The film follows Steve (Sunny), a 13-year-old in 90s LA who befriends a group of skateboarders. It’ll hope to ramp up its Box Office pedigree with a $3m gross this weekend, enough for 10th place. Finally, ‘Indivisible’, the Christian drama distributed by Pure Flix in just 800 cinemas, will barely reach the $1m mark in its opening weekend.

As ‘Halloween’ tightens its grip on top spot with a second weekend mirroring ‘Venom’, which will end up as the bigger film domestically? Will ‘Mid90s’ reach ‘Lady Bird’ levels of success? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

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REVIEW: Halloween (2018)

Year: 2018
Directed by: David Gordon Green
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney, Nick
Castle

Written by Megan Williams 

Halloween is probably my favourite holiday. You get to dress up in scary costumes without anyone judging you, watch horror films with your friends, carve pumpkins, see a man in a William Shatner mask creep around the neighbourhood with a kitchen knife…

Hang on a minute…

Produced by Blumhouse and starring Jamie Lee Curtis reprising her role as Laurie Strode, the latest entry in the iconic ‘Halloween’ franchise is here! Already grossing over $76 million in its opening weekend (from a $10 million budget), it’s earned the second highest October opening ever.

Set 40 years after the original, ‘Halloween’ centres on Laurie Strode, her granddaughter Allyson and Allyson’s parents as they fight against Michael Myers after he returns to Haddonfield to cause new mayhem and murder.

I love 1978 original and was, honestly, sceptical of this entry; the previous entries haven’t been great in my opinion (aside from ‘Season of the Witch’ which didn’t even feature the masked killer!).

And, after seeing it, I think it’s ok but a little flawed.

Jamie Lee Curtis is a delight to watch as she plays the survivor who’s sworn to kill Michael Myers, and she is one of the highlights of the film. While I say this, however, there wasn’t a bad performance in ‘Halloween’, and I did care for each character and wanted them to survive the night. This is a mindset I find rare in most horror films: this time, I’m not rooting for the villain.

Another highlight of ‘Halloween’ was the score, which was composed by John Carpenter (the composer of the original film). While the original theme did feature, the rest of the score was fantastic and elevated the film, giving it a tense and haunting atmosphere.

At times, ‘Halloween’ was suspenseful, making Michael Myers a creepy and silent killer. But it also brought in some humour, making this a fun slasher film that wouldn’t have looked out of place if it had been released 40 years earlier. There are a lot of references to the original film too; some are obvious, while others require a keen eye or knowledge of the overall franchise to spot. The constant reoccurring ‘Halloween’ theme, and an updated version, was a pleasure to hear!  

The film was visually gorgeous and, while most of it featured dark lighting and was set during the night, ‘Halloween’ still managed to appear vibrant, especially during the scenes in Haddonfield. The cinematography was great and the film featured a fair amount of one–take shots that sometimes didn’t focus on Michael while he was carrying out his murderous actions; it really emphasised that Michael is a silent killer who has no limits.

Unfortunately, the film was a little too long and was unevenly paced; it could’ve been around 20 minutes shorter. There’s even a certain plot point that I thought could’ve been removed completely as it goes nowhere. And, while it is suspenseful at times, it isn’t as scary as it’s predecessor.

Overall, ‘Halloween’ is an enjoyable, but average, entry into the franchise and, while I would recommend it, I wouldn’t rush out to the cinema to see it.

MEGAN’S VERDICT:

3

 

JUMPSCARECUT: Halloween (1978) – Evil Turns 40

Directed by: John Carpenter
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Tony Moran

Written by Michael Dean

40 years ago, John Carpenter unleashed an unstoppable evil in theaters that brought terror to the aisles and eventually proved to be a dominating force in the horror genre.  This was the birth of Michael Myers in Halloween.  This is a film that I remember quite well from my youth.  Though I could not catch the film in the theater, I recall sitting and watching with my sister and her friends on the television in our house, as Michael terrorized the babysitters in Haddonfield.  My sister and her friends were yelling at Laurie, “Don’t drop it!  Pick it up!  Pick it up!!  What are you doing?!  Run!!!”  Watching the film again recently, the film may not scare me as it did when I was younger but it is a marvel in its style and there is no denying the impact that this film had on theatergoers and the influence it had with other films that followed.

When thinking of a horror film like Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 slasher Psycho the one thing most clear is how well the film was made.  John Carpenter’s Halloween is as special as Psycho in that the way Carpenter composes the film helps it stands out over the slew of other films like it.  Long tracking shots are something that Carpenter utilized throughout and they were slow and smooth.  This is shown right from the opening credits as we are treated to a black screen with only a candlelit pumpkin in view on the left side and the camera slowly zooms in causing a bit of uneasiness to viewers as we creep ever so close to the evil grinning pumpkin.  Also, some shots are composed as if the audience is there with the characters and at times it can feel as if we are the killer which makes the audience become even more attached to the film.  Such as just after the title scene the camera drifts towards the Myers house, around some bushes and eventually inside the house where an arm reaches for a knife and a mask slips over the camera, the audience is now in the eyes of the killer.  The camera moves up the stairs where the young Michael murders his sister and there is nothing the audience can do to stop the knife plunging down over and over again.  Perhaps this is how it is for Michael being controlled by evil and there is nothing he can do to stop it.  

In the event you have been sleeping under a rock, Michael Myers is one the most iconic villains of horror.  He is silent, slowly stalks his prey with no reason, no method, and is seemingly invincible.  When watching the film in my youth I thought Michael was just a man, but it wasn’t until later when I realized he was something more, especially with the ending of the film where all we hear is his breathing and knowing he is still there.  It would have been best not to have the sequels and just leave Halloween as a standalone film because seeing Michael Myers, not as a man, but as some evil force that is still lurking out there is very frightening and we don’t need to know more than that. 

Throughout the film we are treated to Michael standing near bushes, standing across from the school, standing near some laundry and all are very effective shots of suspense.  However, what else Carpenter does very well is using foreground to build suspense.  For example in the scene where Laurie thinks she has killed Michael (again), she rests wearily on the floor with Michael’s body blurred in the background.  Suddenly Michael sits up and then Carpenters music kicks.  The scene is highly suspenseful and Carpenter excels in it.  In addition, Cinematographer Dean Cundey, who later went on to do more great things in such work as The Thing and Jurassic Park, made wonderful use of light in scenes to help bring suspense and terror.  This proved to be highly effective, particularly in my favorite scene, when Laurie stands against a wall next to a darkened doorway, Michaels white mask slowly appears through the darkness and it is terrifying!  This is a phenomenal use of light and dark and it is a shot people will remember.  Another element that makes Halloween so special is the lack of gore and blood.  It was a great choice to not have it as too much can become a distraction and take away from the suspense that the film so wonderfully builds up.

Aside from Michael Myers being a highlight in the film, another character to mention is Dr. Loomis, played by Donald Pleasence.  Dr. Loomis has always been as much a highlight to the Halloween franchise as Michael Myers and I love him in Halloween.  Just listening to him talk about Michael Myers is engaging because of the way Pleasence delivers the lines.

“I met him, 15 years ago; I was told there was nothing left; no reason, no conscience, no understanding in even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this… six-year-old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and… the blackest eyes – the Devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… evil.”   – Dr. Loomis  

Dr. Loomis can come off as a bit crazy with his talk of the danger in Haddonfield, and this is something that can be seen in later horror films as well with the crazy old man warning others of danger in the area.  My understanding is that Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee were up for the role of Dr. Loomis, but they declined the offer.  As interesting as either actor may have been, I’m glad they did not take the offer as it is hard to imagine anyone other than Pleasence in the role.

The score for Halloween plays a large part in the success of the film and John Carpenter took it upon himself to write the score to save in hiring an actual composer as they had a limited budget.  This idea paid off in spades as the music has become one of the iconic scores for film.  It elevates the film by building suspense and pulls the viewer’s further into the story.  Like another classic horror film, Jaws, everyone who has seen the film can immediately connect the score to the film once it is heard.  When I was young, I ended up buying the Halloween soundtrack which I listened to on many Halloween nights and anytime I felt like creeping someone out during a drive on a darkened road.  

Halloween turned out to be a very influential film to horror films that would come after such as Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street.  This would be through the various tropes such as the final girl and sexually active teenagers.  Like Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) in Halloween, the final girl is the one who survives the encounter with the killer at the end of the film and is seen as the more innocent character.  From film to film she will usually share similar traits such as being a virgin, avoiding drug use and alcohol, essentially portraying a very clean image.  Though there are slasher films that came before Halloween, such as Black Christmas and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and contained a similar final girl, it was Halloween that paved the way for the final girl in horror films that followed.  As a matter of fact, films such as You’re Next, took the final girl to a new level and created a stronger character with more background and she is actually the highlight of the film.  This is in contrast to the character of Laurie Strode who is just an innocent character who managed to survive the night.

The film has spawned many sequels and reboots, and though none have been able to touch the original in terms of quality, just the very name of Halloween in the title and Michael Myers as the killer is enough to get people to the theater.  40 years later, Halloween has another sequel in the theaters, with Jamie Lee Curtis returning, and I can only imagine this is not the end.  Halloween is a film that will always remain as one of the best films of horror and like the ominous evil presence that is Michael Myers, it will never go away.

Michaels Verdict

4-5