October 2022 In Review

Between festival coverages, horror watches, and viewings of films released in 1992, October was a busy film-watching month for me. So, without further ado, let's see what films I saw this past October.

Fright Night (1985) - 4/5 - This film is so cool, Brewster! Writer/director Tom Holland has crafted a bloodsucking take on Rear Window, as a teenager becomes convinced that he's living next-door to a vampire. What unfolds is excellent fun, as tension and laughs mix together for a standout tale brought alive by grisly effects and fantastic make-up. I wasn't fond of 'Evil' Ed, a character which had me questioning why Brewster and Amy put up with him, but that doesn't detract from this brilliant take on vampires.

Pennywise: The Story of IT (2022) - 3/5 - An exhaustive documentary which takes a nostalgic look back at the 1990s mini-series which scared a generation

Avatar (2009) [rewatch] - 4/5 - Before the first sequel is finally released, I was able to revisit James Cameron's moneymaker on the big-screen in 3D and felt transported back to 2009. What makes this film work so well is how real Pandora feels, from the wildlife to the Na'vi's connection with nature, all enhanced  by the stunning visual effects work. The story is certainly familiar, yet it's told in such an engaging way that makes the lengthy runtime pass by so swiftly. What works less for me is the intrusive narration and Sam Worthington's performance, as he feels wooden in the lead role of Jake Sully and certainly falls short when acting opposite Stephen Lang having an absolute ball. While this is lesser James Cameron for me, it still remains a strong showing from one of cinemas most exciting directors.

Nails (1992) - 3/5 - Working to avenge his dead partner, a Los Angeles police detective uncovers a heroin ring and seeks to close the case by any means necessary. A bog standard tale that hits the expected beats, right down to his troubled relationship with his separated wife. Amplifying the film is Dennis Hopper's wild-eyed performance that perfectly fits his loose-cannon character. A decent way to pass the time.

Bad City (2022) - 4/5 - When a corrupt businessman runs for mayor and starts eliminating his opponents, a special task force is covertly assembled to find enough evidence to arrest him. Heading up the team is a former police captain serving time for murder, momentarily released to ensure the job gets done. What Kensuke Sonomura has crafted is an enthralling thriller full of terrific characterization and pulse-pounding action, particularly within the third-act. It felt a bit too ambitious for the runtime, in need of a longer runtime to make some elements feel more natural within the story, although it's an fantastic experience to watch.

Deep Cover (1992) - 4.5/5 - Driven by witnessing his drug-addict father's death as a boy, police officer Russell Stevens becomes part of an anti-drug squad. He goes undercover as a dealer, working his way up to reach the boss. What director Bill Duke delivers is a slickly directed, stylish neo-noir right down to the sumptuously delivered voiceover. As Stevens gets further into his mission, the film delivers a more nihilistic look at how corrupt forces use misery to maintain the status quo and profit off the war on drugs. Key to all this is Larry Fishburne's exceptional performance in the lead role, as he finds his faith and moral compass tested as the truth reveals itself. What a phenomenal film.

Best film of the month, Best film seen in cinemas,
and Best film rewatched: Halloween (1978)

Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead (2014) - 4/5 - What an untethered blast this was. Tommy Wirkola continues on the grisly entertainment which made the second-half of the first film so fun, with full commitment to the nazi-zombie carnage. The film occurs in utterly anarchic ways that are unbelievable to behold, from beginning to attention-grabbing end. I'm unsure if I can ever listen to Total Eclipse of the Heart again without this film being on my mind.

Smile (2022) [rewatch] - 4/5 - A film which does very little new, but what it does is too effective to discount. A promising first film that uses practical effects wonderfully, delivering a creepy tale about the truths masked by ones smile.

Death Becomes Her (1992) - 4/5 - A constant game of bitter rivals one-upping and backstabbing each other, while the object of their affections/manipulations lies in the middle of it all. What's been crafted here is a wicked gem about aging and destructive relationships, brought alive with a delicious sense of humour, killer body-horror, Alan Silvestri's magnificent score, and excellent lead performances. What a tremendous film.

Tad the Lost Explorer and the Curse of the Mummy (2022) - 1/5 - Wishing to be recognised by his mean-spirited, bullying peers, the titular Tad sets out on an adventure which sees him unleashing a mummy's curse. This is an adventure that wants to be Indiana Jones for a more child-friendly audience, although the final product lacks any excitement or thrills in this empty adventure.

Minions: The Rise of Gru (2022) - 3/5 - Following on from the smash-hit origin film from 2015, the sequel focuses on the origin of Steve Carell's character, Gru. What unfolds is a passable way to spend your time, as Gru takes baby steps towards villainy while solidifying his relationship with the Minions. The villainous figures he falls foul of are a forgettable bunch, there's a few too many references to the original Despicable Me, and your mileage on the Minions antics will vary. It's nothing demanding, and is fine the way it is.

Moon Garden (2022) - 4/5 - An enchanting tale of a young girls descent through wonders and terrors.

Best film watched for the first time:
Deep Cover (1992)

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018) [rewatch] - 5/5 - No matter how many times I watch this, the sheer heart leaves me emotional while the humour leaves me laughing as much as the first watch, and the visuals leave me in utter awe. Seriously, Spider-Verse, who gave you permission to be this beautiful?

Orlando (1992) - 4/5 - Adapting Virginia Woolf's 1928 novel, Sally Potter brings alive a marvelous work which uses a fantastical tale stretching across centuries to address societal expectations of gender. No matter what time the film is set in, this is a visually gorgeous tale brought alive with stunning production design and score. Centering things is an exceptional performance by Tilda Swinton, capturing the titular character so exquisitely and conveying so much with just the eyes. Some parts of this episodic story worked for me less than others, although I think this is a great film overall.

Candy Land (2022) - 4/5 - A familiar tale told in effective and heartbreaking ways.

Megalomaniac (2022) - 4/5 - A grim examination of evil.

Outpost (2022) - 2.5/5 - Joe Lo Truglio's feature-directorial debut about the way trauma can linger when left unfaced.

Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) - 4.5/5 - Where has this film been all my life? Francis Ford Coppola delivers a phenomenal adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel, condensed into a 128-minute film that's handsomely crafted and impeccably directed with such style. This romantic take on the bloodsucker swept me up, as it charted an epic journey which is as horrifying as it is horny. Gary Oldman is absolutely relishing the role, whether caked in make-up or as the devilishly handsome seducer. My only issue is with Keanu Reeves, who feels miscast as Jonathan Harker right down to his accent that journeys across centuries. Apart from that, hook this film to my veins.

Biggest Disappointment:
Absentia (2011)

Sister Act (1992) - 3.5/5 - An entertaining film built around a fun premise, as Whoopi Goldberg pretends to be a nun. What's delivered is full of heart, toe-tapping tunes, and a cast of good performers.

Halloween Ends (2022) - 3.5/5 - Credit where it's due, David Gordon Green rounds off his Halloween trilogy in far more interesting ways than expected. The film takes much appreciated big swings, focusing instead on ideas such as the spread of hatred through an interesting character study. It's messily done, particularly when the film has to walk its way back to the "expected" finale, and it's fascinating how much the film actually focuses on Laurie as opposed to Alyson and new character Corey Cunningham. What's left is too intriguing for me to dismiss.

The School For Good and Evil (2022) - 3/5 - An entertaining fantasy film with little to set itself apart.

This Is GWAR (2022) - 4.5/5 - A fitting tribute to a one-of-a-kind heavy-metal band.

Wayne's World (1992) [rewatch] - 3.5/5 - Upon rewatch, this comedy worked much less for me. There's still much to like, particularly the well-rounded duo of Wayne and Garth, while a fair bit of the meta-humour remains funny. The hit ratio just lessened for me a fair bit.

V/H/S/99 (2022) - 4/5 - Die-2K! A terrific anthology which delivers recorded terrors and unsettling thrills.

Biggest Surprise: Megalomaniac (2022)

Wendell and Wild (2022) - 4/5 - A stunning stop-motion tale with grand ambitions.

Black Adam (2022) - 2/5 - A lacklustre affair which takes the most dull routes.

The Offering (2022) - 2.5/5 - A slice of Jewish horror which excels at family drama and smaller moments.

Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) [rewatch] - 4.5/5 - To help me while feeling under the weather, I stuck on a gothic romance to comfort me. Francis Ford Coppola's grand love-letter to Bram Stoker's classic novel was exactly what I needed, in all its bloody and sensual glory.

The Banshees of Inisherin (2022) - 4.5/5 - Easily Martin McDonagh's best film since In Bruges. A film which examines aching sadness stemming from loneliness, as cries for help go heartbreakingly unanswered. A stunningly dark tone looks at the pointlessness of feuding while allowing for fantastic humour, and key to it all are the casts exceptional acting. My standouts were Colin Farrell and Kerry Condon, although that's not to discount Brendan Gleeson or Barry Keoghan. Exceptional work, although I'm unsure when I'll revisit such a saddening work.

Decision To Leave (2022) - 4/5 - The latest from Park Chan-wook is an enchanting and suspenseful take on the police procedural, as an officer investigating a mountain-climber's death begins to suspect the deceased's wife. What unfolds is a tale about obsession and love, taking the story in engrossing directions all while being gorgeously shot and utilising modern technology so darn well. Another excellent film from one of my favourite directors.

Worst film of the month: 
Tad the Lost Explorer and the Curse of the Mummy (2022)

Halloween (1978) [rewatch] - 5/5 - The more I watch this film, the more I identify with Lindsey Wallace. Never mind the spooky shit and shenanigans, just leave me to watch scary movies in peace.

Freeze (2022) - 1/5 - A thin idea which left me cold.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (2022) - 1.5/5 - This is what happens when you order Paddington off Wish. The combined efforts of writer William Davies and directors Josh Gordon & Will Speck have crafted a treacly tale of titular crocodile Lyle singing forgettable songs, in an effort to teach a family to be more outgoing, although his lessons begin with eating food from the rubbish. From the lackluster character arcs to the forced resolution, this is anirritatingly one-note and very one-dimensional film.

Ghostwatch (1992) [rewatch] - 5/5 - A revisit does nothing to lessen the scares from this terrifying precursor to The Blair Witch Project and Host. The last half-an-hour is especially nightmare inducing.

Halloween (1978) [rewatch] - 5/5 - Rewatched with the commentary on. Jamie Lee Curtis recounting John Carpenter's directions to "stab the motherfucker" is all I wanted to hear.

Absentia (2011) - 3/5 - I rounded off my Halloween viewing by checking out an early film from Mike Flanagan's career. Through this tale of sisters reunited while dealing with a missing husband, Flanagan crafts an emotional tale about grief and the stories told to help cope through it all. There's some creepy elements within the horror, yet it feels like the lesser element within this film. The starting points are there for the balance that Flanagan would later perfect in his career, making for something interesting despite its budgetary limitations.

Best film of the month: Halloween (1978)
Best film seen in cinemas: Halloween (1978)
Best film watched for the first time: Deep Cover (1992)
Best film rewatched: Halloween (1978)
Biggest Disappointment: Absentia (2011)
Biggest Surprise: Megalomaniac (2022)
Worst film of the month: Tad the Lost Explorer and the Curse of the Mummy (2022)

Number of films watched: 34