October 2021 In Review

October has left us, taking with it spooky season. As expected, this perfect opportunity resulted in me watching many horror films, especially delving into some films in the Halloween and Chucky franchises. Mixed in with that were numerous film festivals I signed up for, a great amount of trips to the cinema, and finally experiencing my most awaited film of the year in Denis Villeneuve's Dune. So, without further ado, let's see what films I watched this past October.

Even Mice Belong In Heaven (2021) - 3.5/5 - A likeable and affecting stop-motion tale, as two animals become friends in the afterlife.

Bingo Hell (2021) - 1.5/5 - A lacklustre start to 2021's Welcome To The Blumhouse offerings.

Black As Night (2021) - 3/5 - An unremarkable, yet passable, take on vampires.

No Time To Die (2021) - 4/5 - I was never interested in these films before Skyfall, so Daniel Craig was very much my Bond and the send-off for him is marvellously constructed. Cary Joji Fukunaga does an effective job directing this finale, delivering thrilling action set-pieces and terrific horror elements amidst a tale of time passing by and the legacy one leaves behind.

It's great to see the winning crew return in their marvellous roles, and with the return of Christoph Waltz as Blofeld, deals with his most controversial element in a well-suited manner. In terms of new additions, Ana de Armas is a standout one wishes we'd see more of, although we get plenty of Lashana Lynch stealing scenes as the new 007. It's a shame we're more in the company of Rami Malek's dull villain, whose description as a mirror image of Bond is lacking in execution and his motivations are even more lacklustre. A shame, as those elements being fine-tuned could've really made his antagonist one for the ages. I'm actually looking forward to seeing where this series goes next.

V/H/S/94 (2021) - 3.5/5 - An anthology offering analogue thrills across segments flitting between unsettling, gruesome, and humorous.

The Beta Test (2021) - 3/5 - A sharp skewering of toxic masculinity and Hollywood.

Best film of the month and Best
film rewatched: Halloween (1978)

Alone With You (2021) - 3.5/5 - An isolation horror which provides an unsettling 79-Minutes.

Flee (2021) - 4/5 - A powerful animated documentary, as a man recounts his unfortunate past which led to him fleeing Afghanistan and arriving as an unaccompanied minor in Denmark. The juxtaposition of his struggles in the past with present worries about doing well after so much sacrifice makes for an unforgettable feature.

Language Lessons (2021) - 3.5/5 - Shot during the pandemic, Adam (Mark Duplass) finds himself gifted with 100 Spanish lessons by his husband. Their lessons occur via video chat, and when tragedy strikes, these sessions become a lifeline for him. A film which works thanks to the charming rapport between the leads, ensuring the simple story keeps you interested as this heartfelt friendship develops.

Night Drive (2021) - 3/5 - A comedy of errors born out of a simple drive, strengthened by the central pairing.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) - 3/5 - After audiences reacted so negatively to Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Michael Myers and Doctor Loomis were written to handily survive an explosion and make their grand return to the series. The attempts to revive their key characters feel so strained, as is connecting him to the story via Jamie, the daughter of a killed off-screen Laurie Strode. The further this film goes on, the stronger it becomes as the weaker characters are discarded, and all that's standing are Jamie and her adopted sister who share a terrifically depicted relationship. As the third act becomes a siege film and delivers a memorable final scene, this film picks up and I'm rather curious as to what comes next.

Detention (2021) - 3.5/5 - A politically-charged horror that's mightily effective and never forgets about the citizens trapped within extreme repression.

Best film watched in cinemas: Titane

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) - 1/5 - After the intriguing way Halloween 4 ended, I was curious to see what it would mean for the next movie and it seems the answer is "nothing of interest". While the previous film had it's issues, what worked in it is missing from here. Engaging relationships are replaced with the most irritating teens, especially when the sisterly relationship is substituted for Jamie's non-relationship with an awful friend of her sisters. Donald Pleasance's performance as Dr Loomis resembles a ditzy grandpa who mainly screams at a little girl, in an effort to move against Michael Myers and his atrocious mask. What a disappointing way to continue on the series.

Boiling Point (2021) - 4/5 - A sumptuously crafted thriller which uses its single-take conceit in thrilling ways.

Madres (2021) - 2.5/5 - A tale which grapples with a real-life issue, by unfortunately relegating it to a twist-ending in a bog-standard haunting film.

Mass (2021) - 5/5 - Fran Kranz's outstanding directorial debut approaches sensitive subject matter in such gripping and intelligent ways.

All These Sons (2021) - 4/5 - Joshua Altman and Bing Liu collaborate on this documentary following Chicago organisations which recruit young Black men to tackle gun violence. A powerful look at people trying to realise their potential and persevere in the face of a system built to keep them down.

Best film watched for the first time: Mass

Landlocked (2021) - 2/5 - A look at the destructive nature of nostalgia, told in dull ways.

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) - 0.5/5 - This doesn't feel like the sixth entry in a popular horror franchise, but a money-laundering scheme which somehow made it onto the big screen. That's the only way I can describe the existence of a film so inept, baffling, and incompetent. From the choppy editing to the nonsensical plot inclusions, while ideas seem chucked out before reaching any tangible resolution. Between this being Paul Rudd's first feature and Donald Pleasance's last, I feel sorry for the cast.

Halloween (2018) [rewatch] - 4/5 - My first revisit since the theatrical release, and I still dig David Gordon Green's revitalising of this franchise. While the sour notes remain involving the podcasters and the crummy psychiatrist, and I felt less engaged to the teen drama, that doesn't undermine what about this film worked for me. Be it the tense moments or how Laurie's PTSD affected her family, I liked this tale of a family fighting the source of their generational trauma.

Halloween Kills (2021) - 2.5/5 - Whatever interesting swings it may take, this still feels like a stopgap until the next films release.

Welcome To The Rileys (2010) - 3.5/5 - A tale of grieving parents looking after a teenage runaway, Jake Scott delivers a heartfelt tale which works rather well. I do wish it veered further from convention, especially when the plotline treads the tired ground of "man saves sex-worker from her job", but I can't deny this is an excellent showcase for the cast. Be it Kristen Stewart conveying the vulnerability lurking beneath her sweary exterior, Melissa Leo as the guilt-ridden mother who struggles to leave the house, or James Gandolfini acting as the father-figure he misses being, it's a fantastic assortment of talent.

Biggest Disappointment: Bingo Hell

Petite Maman (2021) - 4.5/5 - A tender exploration of grief through a child's perspective.

Venom (2018) [rewatch] - 2/5 - This time around, I found myself more on-board with Tom Hardy's livewire take on Eddie Brock. It's so gloriously weird and the scenes depicting his relationship with the titular symbiote work best across the film. It's a shame we don't get more of that, as they're preferable to the action that's either haphazardly shot or darkly lit, and often containing the ugly CG work. It still feels like a 2000s spin-off though.

Yogi Bear (2010) - 1.5/5 - Exactly what you'd expect from a live-action adaptation of an animated property, and it's dumber than the average film. A tiresome 79-minutes which feels never-ending, as the cast's unengaging performances felt like a mirror for how I was feeling throughout the film. There's more laughs to be had in the unofficial alternate ending where Booboo shoots Yogi.

Inexorable (2021) - 2.5/5 - A throwback to erotic thrillers which consists of people making each other miserable with little intrigue

Death Cast (2021) - 3/5 - A promising idea of actors finding themselves trapped in unscripted terror.

Biggest Surprise: Boiling Point

Dune (2021) - 4.5/5 - As somebody who fell in love with Frank Herbert's novel last year, this was everything I wanted from a feature-film adaptation. Denis Villeneuve has wonderfully realised this epic journey of such breathtaking scope and scale, fronted by a tremendous cast who embody their characters so very well. It's very much a Part One film, but that doesn't lessen how swept up I was in this tale packed with such tragedy and thrills. I eagerly await Part Two.

Forgiveness (2021) - 1/5 - A story hoping for the dark transcendence of 2008's Martyrs which amounts to an overlong excuse to watch women suffering.

The Manor (2021) - 2.5/5 - The last of this year's Welcome to the Blumhouse entries is an appropriate reflection, as the interesting focus can’t mask how these relevant issues aren’t done justice in service of lacking horror elements.

Midnight (2021) - 4/5 - An electric thriller where a serial-killer stalks a deaf woman.

Antlers (2021) - 3.5/5 - A dark fable set in a poverty-ridden town, as abuse takes a visceral form.

Worst film of the month:
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers

Child's Play (1988) [rewatch] - 3.5/5 - I was previously lukewarm on this film so decided to give it another try, and ended up having more fun with it. I find the murder-mystery elements from early on drag, and it's not until Chucky reveals himself that the film really kicks into gear. Once the foul-mouthed doll is let loose, the film becomes an utter blast as this pint-sized murderer goes on a rampage. It's this back-half which has me very excited to delve further into this series.

Child's Play 2 (1990) - 4/5 - Well, this was an absolute riot. This sequel follows a few years after the original, when the traumatic events have left little Andy separated from his mother due to nobody believing their story, resulting in the sweet boy being placed in foster care. Andy's sibling-like relationship with Kyle is absolutely sweet, making for a strong pairing I hope a future follow-on replicates. Of course, this all occurs while Chucky is chasing Andy for his soul, and the sadistic little terror is willing to kill whoever gets in his way. It's wonderful to see this animalistic doll on a rampage from early on, in this fun and tense feature which one-ups the original so well.

Jack Be Nimble (1993) - 3.5/5 - A 1993 take on a Brothers Grimm fairy tale that's emotionally gripping throughout.

My Hero Academia: World Heroes' Mission (2021) - 3.5/5 - An unseasonal start to Halloween, but this was another fun entry into the series. While the film spans across the world for a high-stakes adventure, it has a more focused approach as Deku is framed for mass-murder and teams up with new-character Rody as they go on-the-run. Even though the film holds back Rody's quirk unnecessarily, their bonding is rather charming and the heart of this film. The main villains are a hate-group looking to eradicate anybody with Quirks, led by a by-the-numbers blue-villain whose most interesting thing is his silly name. There's a wonderful fluidity to the action scenes, and even when they grow a bit tiresome and labored, the film never grows dull. It's always a pleasure to be in the company of these characters.

Halloween (1978) [rewatch] - 5/5 - "There's a young woman screaming outside with cuts on her and a masked guy slowly walking after her. I'll just shut my blinds and ignore this."

Fuck that neighbour.

Titane (2021) - 4.5/5 - Julia Ducournau deserves every available resource to keep making films, because she has made it clear what an outstanding and unique voice she is in modern-day filmmaking. Her latest feature is an outstanding piece of body horror, focusing on themes of trauma and parenthood centered around astounding performances from Vincent Lindon and Agathe Rousselle. A must-see for which my love just keeps growing.

Best film of the month: Halloween (1978)
Best film seen in cinemas: Titane
Best film watched for the first time: Mass
Best film rewatched: Halloween (1978)
Biggest Disappointment: Bingo Hell
Biggest Surprise: Boiling Point
Worst film of the month: Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers

Number of films watched: 38