Film Review: Widows

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Director: Steve McQueen

15 | 2h 9min | Crime , Drama , Romance | 6 November 2018 (UK)

RATING: ★★★★☆

Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave) trades his icily elegant arthouse-minded fare for a team-up with co-writer Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) to bring us Widows, a propulsive, exciting and intelligent genre piece that once again gives star Viola Davis a stage to showcase quality acting. The concept of Widows - that a group of four widowed women, whose dead husbands were all part of the same heist crew, would team up themselves to finish the last job in a desperate attempt to gain financial freedom - had me hungry for this film from the moment it was announced, being a huge fan of the sort of slickly constructed and thematically weighty urban crime sagas that Michael Mann once delivered with the likes of Heat. But credit should be given where credit is due, Widows might look like a sort of ‘female Heat’ but it actually a remake of the very popular British 80s TV series of the same name, which McQueen has admitted in interviews to being a huge fan of. But a remake of this kind now, in the #metoo era and with the financial crash still causing a major hangover, brings with it extra resonance.

I did not cast Widows, but if you had set me the task of doing so, Viola Davis would have been top of my list. She is perfect as Veronica, a downtown Chicago teacher’s union rep and the defacto leader of the quartet of widows-turned-heist crew, a role she is forced into when her career-criminal husband Harry (Liam Neeson) is killed along with his crew in the opening minutes of the film in, what must be said, a very thrilling action sequence largely shot from the back of Harry’s crew’s bullet-ridden getaway truck looking out at the mayhem behind them as they race on. Harry and Veronica enjoyed a comfortable middle class life, with Veronica seemingly knowing little about the precise details of Harry’s work (though she clearly knows he was crooked), but although Veronica has her own career, Harry’s death leaves her with an inherited ‘debt’ that has the side effect of pulling her into the murk of local city politics. The money Harry was seen boosting with his four man team in the film’s opening sequence was, in fact, the political war chest of Jamal Manning (Bryan Tyree Henry), a local crime boss turned legit alderman candidate (alderman is a sort of powerful local council figure) determined to be the Chicago 18th district’s first black representative. Despite his desire to gain the kind of power and prestige that his white opponent James McCullen (Colin Farrell) has had since his birth into one of the city’s oldest political hegemonies, Jamal is still a guy from the streets, and lets Veronica know it by busting into her house and openly threatening her to return the same amount of stolen money in one month, no matter what. Problem is, Veronica doesn’t have that kind of money, and the original cash pile burned up in Harry’s van with his body.

With the emotional and physical stakes economically assembled for us, McQueen gets the female widows team on screen swiftly; and they have to be thrown together quickly because Veronica is running out of time. Davis is immensely watchable as a woman with her back to the wall who is just too intelligent and desperate to give into panic, even as her laser focus makes her an increasingly chilly figure. Armed with Harry’s old heist job notebook and enough savings to fund a small operation out of her husband’s old hideout, Veronica recruits fellow widows Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) plus her broke babysitter Belle (Cynthia Erivo) to her ballsy attempt to plot and carry out the biggest heist Harry had started laying out in his notes. The fact Veronica’s recruitment pitch has an element of threat to it (Linda snorts that Veronica might sell their names to Manning if they refuse to sign up) is one of many signs that she is not a woman to be gotten in the way of. 

There is much else to chew on when it comes to the dynamics of the four women. Despite Belle also being black, she finds no natural ally in Veronica, who is immensely suspicious of her as she is both not the intended recruit for the getaway car driver role and not a paid-up ‘widow’. Alice is from a notably lower class than Veronica and was also caught in an abusive relationship with her husband, something that seems to rankle Veronica, who treats her dismissively and assumes she will fail any task set to her. All of the four female leads acquit themselves well, each bringing out an unexpected seam of resourcefulness or some surprising twist to their character, whether it is Rodriguez playing pleasingly against type as a world-weary pragmatist or Debicki showing flair for taking the nervy and pegged-as-white-trash Linda towards a place of growing confidence - even swagger - alongside skilfully delivering most of the few comedy beats that this otherwise grim film finds time for. What these mismatched women do have in common is both the cruel reality that their men left them little to nothing, and the ironic fact that they might benefit from no one thinking, as Veronica notes in a steely pep talk, that they have the balls to pull this off.

Watching these great actresses going about their burglary business and finding ways to get the key pieces of information they want is entertaining enough, but McQueen both surrounds them with a colourful cast of politicians, thugs and ambiguous friend/foe fence-sitters to spice things up, and laces their journey to full-blown heist crew with torn-from-the-headlines political commentary. Having Harry’s last job involved ripping off a major black political candidate means the stark reality of America’s rich-poor divide and the fallow from deeply embedded political corruption can form part of this version of Widow’s canvas quite smoothly, with enough attention given to these elements that they don’t feel like bolt-ons. Casting Colin Farrell as the outwardly slick but secretly troubled alderman shoe-in Jack Mulligan is a sensible move, as Farrell can do charmingly sleazy or sleazily charming in his sleep, but I was blown away by the chill factor radiated by rising star Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) as Jamal’s sociopathith brother and chief fixer Jatemme. Like the rest of the characters that circle the women, neither Jack nor Jatemme are reduced to the one-dimensional, with Jack being shown behind closed doors to resent his elderly politico veteran father Tom’s unabashed racism and long history of corrupt dealings which now threatens to drag his son down, whilst Jatemme is rarely seen without a book or Spanish language audio training track even when he is setting up to deliver a beat-down. 

As for the setting of Chicago city, McQueen and DP Sean Bobbit perhaps best paint for us the desperation and divide that has set into the city’s bones when they execute a bravura single-take from the POV of the front of Jack Mulligan’s car as it cruises from Manning’s ratty HQ on the south side to Jack’s sumptuous redbrick five-bedroom; a short drive in that it takes mere minutes, but one that starkly takes us across the chasm between the run-down and the well-heeled. It is the kind of city where, as Veronica starkly puts it to her rookie team, you are on your own.

Comment

Owen Van Spall

Greetings. I am a Film History MA graduate from Birkbeck University of London and a trained NCTJ qualified journalist. Apart from a long history of film and news writing for this site and various other publications, I am also a trained photographer with my own camera kit. I write mostly every day. Along the way I have picked up work experience at Sight & Sound, The Guardian, The Independent, The FT, The New Statesman, and more. I have written hard news stories, features, arranged and conducted interviews with celebrities, film directors and other major cultural figures, arranged photo shoots, and covered film festivals, conferences and events in the UK and abroad. If you wish to commission me or enquire about full-time opportunities please find my CV and contact details below. A physical portfolio of print only cuttings can also be provided.

Film Review: They Shall Not Grow Old

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Director: Peter Jackson

15 | 1h 39min | Documentary , History , War | see 14-18 Now Website for screenings across London and UK
RATING: ★★★☆☆

On the centenary of the First World War, Academy Award-winner and Lord of the Rings maestro Peter Jackson finally presents his long-gestating project made in collaboration with both 14-18 Now and the Imperial War Museum: a new look at the First World War via a roughly chronological collage of colorised and revised archive footage of the men on the front lines. To be precise, it is specifically a look at the British Western Front in Europe, a region well-known in popular culture as cris-crossed with muddy trenches and sand bags, beyond which lay a murder zone of barbed wire and machine gun nests; ‘No Man’s Land’. Colorising past footage of wars is nothing new, but Jackson’s project is reaching very far back into film history with intent to effect such alterations, as well as making other changes.

They Shall not Grow Old actually begins very much with the kinds of monochrome clips we have long been used to as being our window into the filmic record of the First World War. For about fifteen minutes, as various audio recordings of reminiscing British veterans provide the soundtrack, we see the young men of Britain begin to mobilise for war back home. ‘Pal’s Battalions’ joining up from the same town, recruits complaining about overbearing military officers, plain-spoken unselfconscious statements about one’s certainty of victory with the might of the British empire behind them. More circumspect voices start to appear though: with some veterans recalling how it was a time ‘when men just did what they were told.’ This spread of voices, and the disarming frankness many evoke when describing the most horrific sights and sounds (and note the surprising lack of bitterness in many testimonials, despite the common belief that the war was widely regarded as ‘not worth it’), remains the strongest element of Jackson’s film, regardless of the visual trickery.

Then, as we are brought to the muddy fields of the Western Front and the first clashes between British and German troops, the frame expands outwards to widescreen, and the colours seep into what was monochrome footage. All the footage before hand is framed, clumsily in my view to suggest its ‘oldness’ and unfitness for purpose, in a scrappy 4:3 frame and backed by a fake whirring sound to emulate a classic film strip projector. Each frame of the film that follows colour was hand-colourised by Jackson’s team, the footage 3D-digitised, and transformed with modern post-production techniques. To see soldiers in this colorised pallette initially, after the eyes have been primed by exposure to monochrome for a quarter hour, is a jarring experience. At times, when a soldier is caught looking at the camera (even then people knew reality was being mediated- ‘it’s the pictures mate’ some shout) and the frame is sharp enough to see their eye colours and stubble on their face, the moment can serve as a reaffirmation of how people did not see the world in monochrome on those battlefields. Red splashes of blood (this film contains a surprising amount of footage of mangled corpses, both animal and human) also serve as a salutary reminder that people then bled like we do today no matter how much black and white might seem to remove them from what we know to be the realities of the things modern warfare can do to bodies. Colour or no colour, this footage is soberly compelling regardless because of what it so starkly shows; the painfully recognisable humanity and the incredible mechanical forces ranged against such humans. A transition from a laughing ‘Tommy’ hefting a French child in play to the staggering sight of a mine buried 20 feet down detonating upwards in a cyclone of earth is says it all. Then there are the rats, outside toilets that are just benches over shellholes, bodies sunk in mud. Notably absent from these arrays of horrors though are the views of women and soldiers of non-white descent on this carnage, the result of Jacksons’s very narrow focus.

For every moment I felt both lost in thinking; ’so that is what it must have looked like’, there was another where I felt distracted by a certain heavy-handedness in reinterpreting the footage. The colorisation, combined with strange warping effects that presumably come from adjusting the frame rates and maybe even artificially inserting some to create a 24fps mimicry, makes the footage look more like an animated film or rotoscope effort at times. Often the colour palettes fails to appear that distant from the kinds of wistful war posters I have seen. The use of sound effects I had mixed feelings about too. The First World War was, of course, not filmed with synchronised sound. Audiences seeing this footage would not have heard shell thumps or soldiers muttering to each other, or screams of pain. Jackson has, through various methods that range from dubbing, to foley and lip readings, given this film a ‘real’ soundtrack. Certainly this allows an evocation of the inferno of the fighting, particular the sheer wall of sound that a barrage creates (when a soldier describes in voiceover his increasing terror as incoming shell screams in, a sonic demonstration certainly adds punch) but I found the dialogue often out of sync with lips, and the idea of a modern actor 'speaking for' a dead person a little uncanny valley. Overall, the effects of Jackson’s interventions into archive material are often startling, and sometimes very transporting and moving, but in my view this film is best approached as more of a well-intentioned artistic reinterpretation of ‘what it must have been like to be there’ than a restoration or a true document.  If it spurs sober reflection, an interest in going back to the original footage, and sales of serious books about the First World War, They Shall Not Grow Old will have served its purpose.



Comment

Owen Van Spall

Greetings. I am a Film History MA graduate from Birkbeck University of London and a trained NCTJ qualified journalist. Apart from a long history of film and news writing for this site and various other publications, I am also a trained photographer with my own camera kit. I write mostly every day. Along the way I have picked up work experience at Sight & Sound, The Guardian, The Independent, The FT, The New Statesman, and more. I have written hard news stories, features, arranged and conducted interviews with celebrities, film directors and other major cultural figures, arranged photo shoots, and covered film festivals, conferences and events in the UK and abroad. If you wish to commission me or enquire about full-time opportunities please find my CV and contact details below. A physical portfolio of print only cuttings can also be provided.

Film Review: Peterloo

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Director: Mike Leigh

12A | 2h 34min | Drama , History | 2 November 2018 (UK)

RATING: ★★★☆☆

Director Mike Leigh turns his attention once again to the toiling working classes of England, except this time they are in revolt and bloodshed is in the offing. Sprawled across a broader canvas than usual and with a sense of the epic, Peterloo is a handsomely mounted tale that reconstructs, from various viewpoints, the events surrounding the infamous 1819 Peterloo Massacre at St Peter’s Field in Manchester, where a rally demanding universal suffrage (for men at least) and an end to punitive corn laws that prevented cheap imports of essentials, turned into a massacre at the hands of local military forces. It is a sincere, serious minded, and even angry film that feels squarely aimed at this decade’s austerity politics. Though it is one of biggest, it is not Leigh’s best, however.

Large in scope and ambition thought may be, Peterloo doesn’t attempt anything new in its narrative approach; taking things slowly in chronological fashion with time spent with both ‘sides’ of the debate. We glide at various points back and forth between the perspectives of a politically-awakened and dirt poor Manchester family subsisting in a run-down terraced house under the guardianship of pragmatic matriarch Nellie (Maxine Peake), the oratorically brilliant but arrogantly elitist suffrage campaigner Henry Hunt (Rory Kinnear) and the effete and callous judges and constables of Manchester who sniff revolution in the air and plot to provoke and undermine the rally that they know is coming. We even drop in at the offices of a liberal Manchester newspaper which doubles up as a campaign meeting point for various figures in the suffrage movement; and those viewers who know their history will recognise this as the birth pangs of the Guardian newspaper. Women campaigners get a look in too and, when the rally turns bloody, many women fall alongside the menfolk. Left unmentioned by the film, with its documentary-like approach, is the wider ramifications of the bloodletting and the later reforms that did become concrete reality.

Leigh’s film is comprehensive in its scope, and the stakes and demands of all sides are clearly put forward so no viewer who has never heard of ‘corn laws’ will be leave the cinema any doubt of why these two sides are lining up against each other, but this requires a substantial amount of exposition which works against the naturalistic performances that Leigh is famous for getting out of his casts with his own unique rehearsal approach. Leigh’s script, which he wrote himself, also draws in broad brushstrokes, with some of the villainous politicians and lawmakers being so cartoonish I was wondering where the twirling moustaches were, whilst the working class folk are true salt ‘o the earth’ types. Tim Mcinnerny is so over the top as the Prince Regent it was as if he had been instructed to go back to his old Blackadder days. In the end, what really appealed to me about Peterloo, beyond the historical lesson that I was effectively given, was the superbly rich production design and art department work from Suzie Davies and Jane Brodie that effectively lays out for us the gulf between the rich and poor’s worlds from Manchester to London and from royal courts to workhouses, whilst giving a nice sense of there being grit under everyones’s fingernails (the scenes featuring old looms and printing presses were a particular delight). Leigh’s regular DP, Dick Pope, gives the proceedings an appropriately painterly feel.

Comment

Owen Van Spall

Greetings. I am a Film History MA graduate from Birkbeck University of London and a trained NCTJ qualified journalist. Apart from a long history of film and news writing for this site and various other publications, I am also a trained photographer with my own camera kit. I write mostly every day. Along the way I have picked up work experience at Sight & Sound, The Guardian, The Independent, The FT, The New Statesman, and more. I have written hard news stories, features, arranged and conducted interviews with celebrities, film directors and other major cultural figures, arranged photo shoots, and covered film festivals, conferences and events in the UK and abroad. If you wish to commission me or enquire about full-time opportunities please find my CV and contact details below. A physical portfolio of print only cuttings can also be provided.

Film Review: Utøya - July 22

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Director: Erik Poppe

15 | 1h 33min | Drama , Thriller | 26 October 2018 (UK)

RATING: ★★★★☆

Director Erik Poppe's taught drama recreates - using fictional characters - the terrible armed attack by rightwing terrorist Anders Breivik on 500 youths at a political summer camp on an island outside Oslo back in 2011. Earlier that day Breivik had bombed a Government building in Oslo, but then he made his way to Utøya island to wreak even more bloody havoc. In this first fictional movie about the attack the focus is purely on the terror experienced by the victims; Breivik himself is not seen except as a distant, out-of-focus figure glimpsed now and then by our terrified and constantly on-the-run main character Kaja, who is one of the young teens caught on the island and fears being cut off from her younger sister. Breivik's lack of presence in the film (understandable, given the proximity of the event and the risks of looking like he has earned a platform) means U: July 22 isn't to be taken as a forensic study of the causes and methods of terrorism, but it certainly does the job as a visceral ride into chaos that also salutes, thanks to some fine acting, the fragile but vibrant humanity of the youths who were the targets that day. It won't be for everyone though, as this is a dark viewing experience indeed with an uncompromising approach that will no doubt cause upset.

U: July 22 actually starts a few minutes before the first gun shots ring out, and news of Breivik's earlier attack on the government building is shown zipping across social media and buzzing the news apps of the phones of the relaxed, chatting youths wandering about their campsite. This terror attack took place in the full flowering of the social media and smartphone era, but the resulting gunshots that send the kids scattering from their camping group and into the woods serves to highlight how the fog of war can swiftly overwhelm even this iPhone generation. Most of the kids Kaja encounters, once all hell has broken loose, find no aid in all this interconnectivity whilst they cower in bushes and behind trees, and many have wildly incorrect ideas about what is going on. Some don't even recognise the gunshots as weapon fire; thinking it is a drill. Breivik's location, capabilities and aims remain frighteningly unknown as the massacre plays out. Mostly the killer's presence is heralded not by any sight of him, but by the jump-inducing sudden booms of his firearms ringing out across the island's forests. The camera sticks to Kaja's perspective at all times, unsettling the viewer by limiting vision and audio to her vicinity. Immediacy is heightened by the editing creating the illusion of one unbroken take. A mercilessly effective approach to this grim true story.

Comment

Owen Van Spall

Greetings. I am a Film History MA graduate from Birkbeck University of London and a trained NCTJ qualified journalist. Apart from a long history of film and news writing for this site and various other publications, I am also a trained photographer with my own camera kit. I write mostly every day. Along the way I have picked up work experience at Sight & Sound, The Guardian, The Independent, The FT, The New Statesman, and more. I have written hard news stories, features, arranged and conducted interviews with celebrities, film directors and other major cultural figures, arranged photo shoots, and covered film festivals, conferences and events in the UK and abroad. If you wish to commission me or enquire about full-time opportunities please find my CV and contact details below. A physical portfolio of print only cuttings can also be provided.

Film Review: Halloween (2018)

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Director: David Gordon Green

18 | 1h 46min | Horror , Thriller | 19 October 2018 (UK)

RATING: ★★★☆☆

I've not seen every single instalment in the Halloween franchise, but the continuity there looks like it has got pretty tangled over the 40 years since masked serial killer Michael Myers - AKA 'The Shape' - slapped on a cheap Halloween mask and began hunting down youngsters in the sleepy American town of Haddonfield. Director John Carpenter presumably had little idea that his 1978 slasher flick would not only so come to define that genre, but spawn a huge and unwieldy universe that a multitude of directors have tried to grow and reboot. Now it is the turn of David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Joe) and screenwriters Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley, and their anniversary-timed effort immediately commanded attention by not only securing Carpenter's involvement as both producer and composer (with Daniel Davies and Cody Carpenter) but by situating this new movie - also called 'Halloween' - as a direct sequel to the first film (maybe this is the first time in Hollywood history that a sequel has had a completely identical name to its predecessor). Selective continuity as a way of keeping franchises as un-killable as Myers remains a key trick in the filmmaker's magic box. Luckily for us, this pretty enjoyable new Halloween turns out to be more treat than trick, with impactful visuals, a game cast, and a moodily kinetic score that reminds us why Carpenter's self-penned scores are so mimicked today.

It is not unprecedented for a franchise to attempt to spring a female character- one relentlessly hunted by whatever antagonist - out of the box of 'victim' and into a more combative, competent role. James Cameron did this with the main female character in Terminator 2, and there is something quite 'Sarah Connor-ish' about the presentation of Halloween's returning heroine here; Laurie Strode, who is once more played by scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis. With the new film's story acknowledging the amount of real time that has passed since the original, Laurie is now a combat-trained grandmother in her 60s still living in Haddonfield, a grey-haired and wiry 'town outcast' figure living alone in an isolated bungalow out in the rural suburbs, a grim fortress surrounded by barbed wire and CCTV, and with an interior loaded with booby traps and weapon racks. As played with clear relish by Curtis, this Laurie is armed to the teeth and ruthlessly single-minded in staying combat-ready, but not, as we learn, because she is paranoid about being killed by Michael Myers, who has been imprisoned in an institute for the criminally insane since the events of the first film. Laurie is sitting in this fort waiting for Michael to come and finish what he started, so she can kill him. She wants him to escape, and believes it will happen. This is an interesting twist on cinematic horror-flick victimisation that separates Laurie from Sarah Connor. Sarah never wanted the Terminators to come back.

Of course, Myers escapes in time for Halloween, when a bus crashes during a prison transfer operation, following which he duly reacquires his mask and heads back to Haddonfield. An introductory sequence to his status in the institute that has held him since 1978 nods towards the suggestion of a supernatural-like aura cloaking the man, as a duo of journalists attempting to interview Myers and get the real story on 'the legendary killer' only provoke any kind of reaction when they reveal they've brought the same mask he wore 40 years ago. Standing with his back to them (and us, as Green continues the tradition of keeping 'The Shape''s face hidden through specific framings and focus) and keeping rigid still, Michael doesn't speak or turn from his spot in the courtyard outside when the mask is removed from the awed journalist's bag, but all around him guard dogs start to howl and snarl, and the other prisoners in the yard become vocally disturbed. It is as if a live wire had started humming when the mask came close to returning to the only man who could ever wear it, as if it was the ring from Lord of the Rings. A bleak open yard bisected into various yellow squares, safe zones where visitors are warned not to step as they mark the lunge distance of the chained inmates, makes for an eerie place to get up to speed with Laurie's nightmare. Michael was never supposed to be possessed of any unearthly power in Carpenter's original film, but his silently implacable nature and ability to drift in and out of our sight as if on rails or as if he was only an inch-thick, made him seem so. Later films in the franchise played with this idea even as Myer's pop culture status grew in the real world, so the institute scene is an unsettling and understandably self-reflexive re-introduction, even if it is a bit silly to think that any journalist would really want to act this way or be allowed to.

But Halloween really gets into its stride when Myers gets into his. Myers is a creature of movement, a human shark. Once free and roaming in search of Laurie, Green shows Myers has lost none of his killer instinct via several invigorating long take sequences where a steadicam tracks 'The Shape' from behind as, re-masked and back in his boilersuit outfit, he strides unnoticed through the Halloween crowds of Haddonfield, gliding into various garages and houses to murder his way through the inhabitants until his shopping list of items that he needs to find Laurie is complete (item one being, of course, a huge knife). Tipping the hat to modern sensibilities, the kills are far more gory than the 1978 version, but generally each is stylishly done though the gruesomeness is not lingered on too long. Playing Myers, actors James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle have the necessary height and give the sense of solid bulk, but as with Carpenter, what Green understands is that it is as much framing and editing as the mask and knife that makes 'The Shape' so potent a figure. Though I would argue Halloween never gets scary, Green works up several visually inventive sequences that nod to Carpenter's flair, in which slivers of darkness or sharp-angled corners allow Myers to glide spookily in and out of sight. One scene featuring a motion-triggered light in an empty yard, with a drunk high schooler terrorised by the sight of Myers closing the gap between them in between every moment of tripped illumination, is particularly memorable and generated a good jump scare or two. Appropriately for a killer named 'The Shape', Myers is often seen by POV characters only through door cracks or the shards of broken windows. There are some very atmospherically lit locations to savour too, from pumpkin-decked streets where the candlelights within each cast weird dances of light on the porches, to spooky forest roads in fog lit only by car headlights.

Green's film can be enjoyed as a competent slasher as well as a warmly familiar homage (needless to say, the film is laced with callbacks), but those wanting more might enjoy the meta sprinkles on top of the cake, particularly where the idea of the final girl, which the original did so much to enshrine, is given a little bit of a prodding. There is a sense of acknowledgment in the screenplay that this is a new decade which demands a few new chords slipped into an old tune. Symbolic of this, as Laurie and her female family members (Judy Greer plays her daughter Karen, and Andi Matichak granddaughter Alysson) finally face the final showdown with Myers out in the woods, is one well-known reveal shot from Carpenter's original being mimicked, but with a twist. This time it is Laurie who vanishes unexpectedly from Myers's sight when he looks over a balcony to the spot where he expected to see her lying. The predator-prey dynamic is destabilised on this particular all-Hallow's eve, and Green's film musters up yet a few more pleasing surprises after this little beat. Though Halloween 2018, inevitably, does not feel revolutionary because of its indebtedness to the original and does not dive as deep into its characters as it could have, it does things that feel satisfying and right. That will more than do for me as I look for something to watch on future All Hallows Eve's.

Comment

Owen Van Spall

Greetings. I am a Film History MA graduate from Birkbeck University of London and a trained NCTJ qualified journalist. Apart from a long history of film and news writing for this site and various other publications, I am also a trained photographer with my own camera kit. I write mostly every day. Along the way I have picked up work experience at Sight & Sound, The Guardian, The Independent, The FT, The New Statesman, and more. I have written hard news stories, features, arranged and conducted interviews with celebrities, film directors and other major cultural figures, arranged photo shoots, and covered film festivals, conferences and events in the UK and abroad. If you wish to commission me or enquire about full-time opportunities please find my CV and contact details below. A physical portfolio of print only cuttings can also be provided.