Halloween Ends (2022): Film Dies Tonight

“Halloween Ends” is directed by David Gordon Green. This film is the conclusion to his “Halloween” legacy sequel/reboot/whatever you want to call it series. And yeah. We know it’s not over. It ain’t over until there’s no more money to be made. This movie stars Jamie Lee Curtis (Everything Everywhere All at Once, Knives Out), Andi Matichak (Orange is the New Black, Blue Bloods), James Jude Courtney (Babylon 5, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Will Patton (Falling Skies, Swamp Thing), Rohan Campbell (Mech-X4, The Hardy Boys), and Kyle Richards (Little House on the Prairie, ER). “Halloween Ends” is set between the years 2019 and 2022. Simply put, the town of Haddonfield, Illinois is still not over the last attacking spree from Michael Myers. Laurie Strode, who is now enjoying a somewhat normal life, is set to do whatever she can to kill Michael Myers once and for all. Oh, and there is a subplot about her daughter and a child-killing babysitter.

Trailers are perhaps my favorite form of marketing. They can easily make something more epic than it has to be in just a span of a couple of minutes. The trailers for “Halloween Ends” promise one thing in particular, the showdown between Laurie Strode and Michael Myers. The good news is, the promise is kept during the movie. But that is not the movie itself. One of my biggest critiques for trailers is that they often show the best parts of the movie or they flat out just spoil the entire movie from start to finish. I have seen both trailers for “Halloween Ends.” This is where I remain conflicted. They did a great job at not showing the entire movie, but they also show something that I never thought we’d see. In addition, the things that I imagine a majority of the people would come to the movie for, barely shows up in the movie at all.

Thus far, David Gordon Green’s “Halloween” trilogy has been all right. I liked the first movie he did, his follow-up, “Halloween Kills” had its moments of entertainment, but with this conclusion, it could not quite stick the landing.

Last year, when I reviewed “Halloween Kills,” my biggest problem with the movie was that Jamie Lee Curtis was barely in it. Also, for the moments where she happened to be present, there was little entertainment value through it all. It felt odd for a movie where she had top billing. In “Halloween Ends,” Curtis once again has top billing, and her presence in the movie is less of a problem. She is in the film for an adequate amount of time. Whenever she was on screen, she was charming to watch.

At the same time, one of the previous movie’s successes is its use of Michael Myers. I saw the movie in a crowded theater, and we all enjoyed the moments Myers happened to be on screen. It literally puts the “kills” in “Halloween Kills.” If you were to watch the movie to see Michael Myers do his thing, you came to the right place. Last time around Jamie Lee Curtis was barely in the movie, but for the case of “Halloween Ends,” Michael Myers ends up being shadowed amongst the cast. He barely does anything in the movie, and unfortunately, the little we get of Michael Myers did not make the price of admission feel like it was worth it. The final fight between Laurie Strode and Michael Myers is somewhat thrilling. But I do not know if it was worth an hour and a half of everything else the story provides. If anything, I do not see myself watching “Halloween Ends” again. Instead, what I see myself doing is if I need a fix, I am going to go on YouTube and search the end of the movie to just watch Laurie and Michael duke it out. The fight was fun, but it is surrounded by an average movie that does not feel like it belongs in the “Halloween” universe.

I like what the movie was going for. Some of the movie’s plot plays around with certain characters’ perceptions. I thought it was somewhat well utilized. Seeing Laurie have relations, of sorts, with someone who the world finds to be as crazy as her sounds great on paper. Although I cannot say the same for the execution. The story that built up to the Laurie vs. Michael finale that the trailers promise has glimmers of fun, but it also has cheesy dialogue and over the top moments that took away from some of the entertainment. I am not going into “Halloween Ends” expecting the next “Parasite,” but like every movie I go into, I am expecting something of quality. I want to watch something that feels like the crew is trying, and in this case I did not get that.

If anything, “Halloween Ends” reminds me of what people say about the Michael Bay “Transformers” movies. It is not about what’s in the title, because they spend all this time sneaking a forced human drama about characters that the audience has little reason to care about. To be fair, Laurie has established herself as a fixture in the franchise. Laurie’s granddaughter, Allyson, has her moments. Andi Matichak does her best with the material given to her.

The movie at the very least, looks and sounds competent on a $20 million budget. I had no problems with the way the movie was shot. The action sequences, for the most part, looked good. The score, which emits the classic “Halloween” tunes horror fans have come to know over the years, is booming. I watched this film in the theater, specifically in IMAX, and was worried that I was going to go deaf by the end. It might have been the loudest score I heard in a movie since Ludwig Goransson’s series of music from “Tenet.” Sadly though, despite being a horror movie, it is not that scary. Despite being a slasher film, the slasher elements did not add any highlights. Nothing stood out. Again, when Michael Myers is sidelined in a film franchise that made the character famous, that can be problematic. The movie has some occasional jumpscares, and they were not that terrifying. Honestly, if you are reading this and need a movie to watch this spooky season in the theater, just go watch “Smile.” Or, if you browsing around Peacock, where this movie debuted simultaneously, just turn on “The Black Phone!” If you are looking for scares, there are better options than “Halloween Ends.” This movie is a stab in the back if there ever was one.

In the end, “Halloween Ends” is the worst installment to David Gordon Green’s “Halloween” sequel trilogy. I have not seen too many of the “Halloween” movies. Other than David Gordon Green’s films, I have seen the original “Halloween” and “Halloween II.” I enjoyed both of those films for what they were. Of the “Halloween” films I have watched, this is my least favorite. The kills are not entertaining. Michael Myers is barely in the movie. As for the movie’s screenplay, it has an identity crisis. The marketing makes this look like a “Halloween” movie, but as for the product itself, it felt like a straight to Lifetime drama with better framing and more recognizable actors. I am going to give “Halloween Ends” a 4/10.

“Halloween Ends” is now playing in theaters everywhere and is also available to stream on Peacock.

Thanks for reading this review! Speaking of horror, I just saw “Barbarian” at the movies recently. Therefore, I will have a review for the flick coming soon. Also coming soon, I will be sharing my thoughts on “Ticket to Paradise,” the brand new comedy starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney. Following that, I will be unveiling my feelings about the latest entry to the DCEU, “Black Adam.” Is the hierarchy of power in the DC Universe really about to change? That question will be answered soon. If you want to see more of my reviews, check out my thoughts on “Medieval” and “See How They Run.” If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Barbarian?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite installment in David Gordon Green’s “Halloween” trilogy? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Vengeance (2022): B.J. Novak Directs and Stars in A Texas-Sized Slice of Mediocrity

“Vengeance” is directed by and stars B.J. Novak (The Office, Saving Mr. Banks). Joining him is a cast consisting of Boyd Holbrook (Logan, The Predator), Dove Cameron (Descendants, Liv and Maddie), Issa Rae (Little, The Lovebirds), and Ashton Kutcher (That 70s Show, Two and Half Men). The film is about a writer who travels to rural Texas and attempts to figure out the happenings behind the murder of a girl he previously hooked up with.

I live in Massachusetts, and as someone who lives in Massachusetts, I often get excited to hear that particular people from my state like Elizabeth Banks or Ben Affleck get involved in a project or do a project of their own. I feel a sense of pride as a “wicked smaht” Bay Stater who occasionally stops by a Dunkin’. The U.S. version of “The Office,” despite being a sitcom I could never get into, has a few Bay Staters in the main cast including Steve Carell, John Krasinski, and the one we are going to focus on for this review, B.J. Novak.

Unfortunately for Novak, of the three stars of “The Office” I previously mentioned, he is the one I know the least about. I am more likely to acknowledge Carell or Krasinski. Steve Carell has terrific range from doing voiceovers in projects like the “Despicable Me” franchise, slapstick comedy through movies like “Anchorman,” and even drama flicks such as “Beautiful Boy.” John Krasinski is obviously known for his acting career, but I have grown fond of him for his directorial efforts in “A Quiet Place” and its sequel. But, this year, Novak is the new Krasinski. Not only is he directing a movie, he is starring in that same movie.

Although Krasinski has the upper hand if you ask me, because the concept of his movie felt more marketable. It felt more attractive. Novak’s new film, “Vengeance,” like any movie, could be good. But the trailer, if I had anything positive to say, barely sold me. Then I saw the movie… What did I think?

In theory, I like the messages this movie tries to convey. It dives into a number of a conversation-starting topics and ideas. Do we stereotype people too much or do stereotypes continue to have a place in our society? Is humanity, from a general perspective, too full of itself? Are we too attached to our electronics and is it heavily affecting what we could be experiencing in the real world? I like these concepts and questions. But it pains me to say that these are all presented in a script that could have been better.

Speaking of which, not only did Novak direct and star in the film, he wrote it too. This was undoubtedly a personal project, which only makes me feel worse that I have to describe why it did not work for me.

You want to know what sucks? Vacuums. You want to know what blows? Protagonists who you do not particularly like from the first scene. I wanted to relate to the character of Ben Manalowitz (right), and while I was able to find charm from the character here and there, I do not think the character was written in a way that sat well with me. The movie sells this character as a writer who has very much adapted to the northern city life. But in addition to that, he often came off as moody, or unlikable on the outside. I do not know what it is, but I feel like every scene he was in, he did not want to be doing what he was doing. I like the concept of his character, and he does his best to enforce the conceptual messages which I did enjoy, but the execution could have been better.

As I watched this movie, I got the sense that it was trying to present itself, maybe to an audience like mine, as a cultural shock. You know how you enter a country you’ve read a ton about but you have never been to? This is what I felt as a Bay Stater watching this movie about rural Texas. It is a movie that maybe is supposed to induce feelings of discomfort or unfamiliarity, and I think it did its job. But at the same time, I felt like some of the stuff that happens in Texas, at least in this movie, were a bit over the top. I was looking at the New York or more urban scenes and felt a contrast between that and the rural scenes. The rural scenes, or their centered characters, felt more exaggerated, more like cartoons at times. According to Wikipedia, B.J. Novak traveled to Texas to do research on the area and hoped that would translate into the movie’s concept or story. I do not know how over the top rural Texas is as I have never been, but I need to know how Novak came up with these specific Texan characters.

If I had to declare my favorite part of “Vengeance,” it would be one clip where Ben interviews the family and asks them some questions. In one scene, he asks what makes the family’s area so great. It only takes a second for the young boy, known by the nickname “El Stupido,” to shout “WHATABURGER!” Other than spending an hour or two at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to catch a connecting flight, I have never been to Texas. But even as someone from the north, the moment I heard the word “Whataburger,” I knew that this would be a somewhat accurate description of certain parts of Texas. We do not get Whataburger in Massachusetts, but it is everywhere in Texas. I know people who have been, and they say it is quite good. And besides, I go back to what I say in the beginning of the post and that random Dunkin’ comment. Like Whataburger, I can say that Dunkin’ is sort of a cornerstone to the lives of New Englanders. Obviously, Dunkin’ can be seen on the west coast. But there is a reason why Whataburger has such an association with Texas, and New England sports stars like David Ortiz and Rob Gronkowski have done commercialized material together for Dunkin’. So, good job on the inside humor.

Before we close off this review, I have to say the flaw that stuck with me the most is the way the film ended. I do not want to give any spoilers as this movie is only a few weeks old, but I will remind everyone reading this that the film is called “Vengeance” for a reason. Part of that reason is shown in the film’s climax. This allows us to see our protagonist do something, I will not say what, that felt completely out of character for them. Some may argue that this is “character development,” but as someone who saw the film, I would say that this was tacked on. Yes, in screenwriting, and therefore, in movies, there are “rules.” They do not always have to be followed, art and filmmaking are subjective after all, but nevertheless. One of the cliches of a protagonist is that they have to change throughout the film. And we see that here. Doesn’t mean the change is good. Once again, the concept is there, but the execution is not.

In the end, “Vengeance” could have been better. This is not the worst movie of the year, but if you are looking for something to watch at this point, there are better options out there. Unfortunately this August is a slow month for movies, especially more mainstream titles. But I would nevertheless recommend you even go see “Top Gun: Maverick” a third time at this point. I went into “Vengeance” not knowing what to expect and I left feeling unsatisfied. I wish B.J. Novak the best in his future works,. If he decides to direct more movies, I hope they are better than this forgettable outing. I am going to give “Vengeance” a 5/10.

“Vengeance” is now playing in theaters and is also available to watch on VOD platforms.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the brand new Brad Pitt-starring action flick “Bullet Train.” I will not say much about it other than the fact that it literally lives up to its name. If you want to know my thoughts, stay tuned for the review. Also coming up, I will be sharing my thoughts on “Bodies Bodies Bodies” and “Beast.” If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Vengeance?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite project involving B.J. Novak? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Black Phone (2022): Scott Derrickson Dials Up a Terrifying Ride

“The Black Phone” is directed by Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange, Sinister) and stars Mason Thames (For All Mankind, Walker), Madeleine McGraw (Bones, American Sniper), Jeremy Davies (Lost, Justified), James Ransone (The Wire, Generation Kill), and Ethan Hawke (Moon Knight, First Reformed) in a film that follows a 13 year old boy who is trapped in a killer’s basement. While trying to escape, the boy receives calls from said killer’s victims.

Scott Derrickson is known for his work on multiple horror titles including “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” “Deliver Us from Evil,” and “Sinister.” His most recent work however was through the lens of Marvel via “Doctor Strange,” which I found to be incredibly entertaining despite being out of Derrickson’s comfort zone. It also features what I contend to be some of the best 3D ever put to film. Much like the “Sinister” followup, Derrickson did not return to Marvel Studios to helm the recent “Doctor Strange” sequel, giving him more time to go a genre that defines him as a director.

Speaking of horror and “Doctor Strange,” Sam Raimi of “Evil Dead” fame ended up helming the new “Doctor Strange” film in Derrickson’s place. When Derrickson was asked about his thoughts on a trailer for the then upcoming “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” he said, in admiration of Raimi, that he was excited for the movie. But the trailer also affirms that “The Black Phone” was the right film for him to make at the time.

Having seen “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” Derrickson is right. Sam Raimi was the right director for that film, as I did have a good time with it. He is also right about himself because Derrickson made an epic horror that is better than some of the other recent entries to the genre. I mean, personally, it is not hard to provide me with more entertainment than what I got with “Malignant.” I make no apologies.

Part of what makes “The Black Phone” so good could be mostly attributed to its youngest cast members. The two main siblings in this film, wonderfully portrayed by Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw, have a connection that feels evident from scene one and sticks in your head the moment the lights come back on.

Mason Thames, who is not of adult age yet, is given a lot to do in a matter of just over an hour and a half, and he carries this film like a champ. His portrayal of Finney does not feel like a “child actor” performance. The same can be said to other actors of similar age who happen to be in the film. If anything, Mason Thames is perhaps almost on par with the character viewers will likely remember the most from this film, The Grabber, played by Ethan Hawke.

Ethan Hawke is having a heck of year so far between “Moon Knight,” “The Northman,” and now this movie. This is truly Hawke’s world and we are just living in it. Although while “Moon Knight” and “The Northman” have gotten plenty of attention, part of me is not too crazy about those two projects despite Hawke’s undoubtable commitment to them. This time, I recognized Hawke’s commitment to his craft while also admiring the story at hand. Hawke is genuinely terrifying at times as The Grabber. Major props have to be given to the costume design and makeup department because not only does Hawke emit serial killer vibes through his motions and voice, but also through his looks. If I were a studio executive working today, I could see The Grabber as the next Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers or Pennywise where he becomes this generation’s big horror mascot. He has the looks for it, I could almost see the collector’s toys for it, but the problem is figuring out another story to bring Ethan Hawke back.

On paper, “The Black Phone” keeps things simple and effective. It combines a crazy, Michael Myers wannabe killer, a story that is mostly spent in a creepy basement, and also one that centers around a singular kid. Although this does not mean that there is no depth to the film whatsoever because there is also an intriguing story on the side related to the lead kid’s connection to his father. If anything, this movie reminded me of “10 Cloverfield Lane” except that the star of the show is much younger, and we spend more time focusing on one particular space than anywhere else.

“The Black Phone” is not only scary, but also somewhat disturbing. If you are easily triggered by particular topics, this movie may not the first one I recommend. Why? Because this film has a subplot dedicated to Gwen, Finney’s sister, and her psychic dreams related to The Grabber. This unhinges a rivalry of sorts between her and her father (Jeremy Davies), who happens to be an alcoholic. “The Black Phone” manages to evoke fear in its own right in terms of developing a story where a kidnapper keeps someone in his basement, which streamlines itself more to fantasy than anything else. But it is also down to earth by supplementing that story with a triggering subplot that allows us to receive more depth about the film’s events. For me, this worked, but if you are looking for “an escape,” this movie could be a slight question mark compared to say “A Quiet Place.” Speaking of “A Quiet Place,” I want to bring up that movie for a second.

The biggest compliment I can give to “The Black Phone” is one that is perhaps as massive as what I gave to “A Quiet Place” when I saw that movie. My usual routine when I go to the movies is to get a large popcorn and soda. Normally, I will leave the theater having consumed most of my food and drink. But during “A Quiet Place,” I noticed that every moment I had popcorn in my mouth, I found myself dissolving it as opposed to chewing it. I left the theater with a lot of popcorn that day. While I cannot say I left with as much popcorn for “The Black Phone,” after all, I do not think I intentionally dissolved any of it, I did end up leaving the theater taking home more popcorn than usual. Based on that alone, this shows how scary good this movie is.

In the end, “The Black Phone” is worth watching, but if you get scared or triggered easily by realistic or fantastic concepts, I would recommend straying away from this film. Despite what I said about Ethan Hawke, I do not think a sequel to “The Black Phone” would be warranted, I think it would campify The Grabber if he were revisited in the near future. Although I do admire this film for having many genuine scares and minimal cheap tricks. I really enjoyed the mystery of the film, some of the characters stand out, and I would watch it again on a Friday night with the lights out. I am going to give “The Black Phone” a 7/10.

“The Black Phone” is now playing in theatres everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed my review for “The Black Phone,” I have another review coming soon, this time for a comic book movie! That’s right! My next review is for the brand new MCU installment “Thor: Love and Thunder!” Stay tuned! If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Black Phone?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite horror villain? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Halloween Kills (2021): A Halloween Sequel That Encourages You To Find Jamie Lee Curtis

“Halloween Kills” is directed by David Gordon Green, who also directed the previous “Halloween” installment, simply titled “Halloween,” the 2018 sequel that erased all the other “Halloween” sequels out of continuity. Serious question… They had no other title for that movie? Anyway, this film “stars” Jamie Lee Curtis, even though she barely does anything here. In addition to her, this movie also has a cast including Judy Greer (Ant-Man, 27 Dresses), Andi Matichak (Assimilate, Underground), Will Patton (Falling Skies, Remember the Titans), Thomas Mann (Project X, Kong: Skull Island), and Anthony Michael Hall (The Breakfast Club, Weird Science). This film is the sequel to 2018’s “Halloween,” taking place directly where that movie ends, and follows the Strode family as they continue to survive against the dreaded Michael Myers. This time around, the entire Haddonfield community joins together to defend themselves against the twisted serial killer.

I feel like I keep beating a dead horse when I say this. Horror movies as a genre is not my forte in the film realm. I like some horror, I enjoy it. But for years I avoided a ton of new titles because they often looked predictable from the marketing. Although I have an appreciation for the 1978 “Halloween.” I think it did a lot for slasher flicks and it remains one of the more popular horror titles out there today. Michael Myers has become synonymous with a still face that you do not want to find on the street, and I think the original film is worth a watch at least once before you die, or before someone comes at you with a knife and slices your throat. I cannot say much about the other “Halloween” films, because all I’ve seen aside from “Halloween Kills” is the original film, “Halloween II,” and “Halloween” 2018.

Going into “Halloween Kills,” I was not expecting too much. I had some fun with the 2018 “Halloween” reboot, but I would not say it is that great. There are parts of it that were slow, underwhelming, but I still had some fun with it. I ended up going to the press screening just hoping to have a good time. And I will say that “Halloween Kills,” despite its flaws, and there are a few, is reasonably enjoyable. If you want something fun to watch this weekend, I would recommend “Halloween Kills.”

The film comes with some things that you might expect. Classy kills, great music including the classic “Halloween” theme that has become well known to the fanbase, and Jamie Lee Curtis being badass. Those have become a few staples of the franchise. But I also like where this movie takes its story as far as the supporting cast goes. This film spends much of its time getting to know a large supporting cast who reside within Haddonfield. They all agree on one thing. Michael Myers is on their death list. The way that they handled this supporting cast in the movie sort of reminiscences the U.S. capital riot earlier this year. After all, you have a large group of people, including someone who organized an entire mob, they’re together for the same purpose, but instead of going after a ton of people at once, they’re after one guy. Granted, this movie was written and shot before that happened, but I like that aspect of the film. Trust me, if I found out Jack the Ripper were still alive and somehow in my area, I would be encouraged to join a mob and go after him. I’m a pacifist, I do not have any intentions to kill anyone, but even I might be propagandized enough to go after him.

This movie also has some really cool kills. The movie is available to stream on Peacock even though it is also in theaters, but if you want my recommendation, I’d say go see this movie with an audience because there are one or two kills where our theater gasped, oohed, I said “oh my god,” one time. It is worth seeing in a theatrical environment. My other recommendation is if you want to watch it on Peacock. Get some friends, order some food, make sure you have plenty of people in the same room. This film is fun to watch by yourself, but might be even better with others. Michael Myers has a way of bringing people together.

I said there are a few problems about this movie, and I am not afraid to talk about them. First off, as much as I like the screenplay when it comes to how it handles its large group of supporting characters, I think the movie does not bring much that’s new to the horror genre or “Halloween” franchise. Part of the screenplay is predictable, and I’ll probably forget about a lot of characters in this film by the end of the year. Speaking of characters, again, as much as I like the supporting cast and what they do, I think a lot of time was wasted away from Laurie Strode. Jamie Lee Curtis received top billing in the film, so I would have liked to have seen more from her character. I feel like she doesn’t do much. I know the way the last movie ended and this movie begins has her character the way she is for a reason, but I was somewhat underwhelmed by Curtis’s appearance. It’s like, “Look everybody, A NEW HALLOWEEN MOVIE! Starring Jamie Lee Curtis as that one lady who earns her paycheck!”

My other big complaint is one that to some people, probably should not come as much of a surprise. I felt like the first half of the movie tried its best to set the tone for what’s ahead, but while it did that, it made much of that first half an extravaganza of jumpscares. There were just too many scares just done to keep people on their toes and they had little to no real purpose of being in the film. They’re just… There. I do recommend “Halloween Kills,” but it’s gonna be hard to call it a movie for the ages. It’s definitely fun to watch at least once and see how it is.

In the end, “Halloween Kills” is a good time and I do think it is best watched with a group of people, as long as you’re not out to kill anyone. This film comes with the basics of a “Halloween” film mixed in with an angry mob of people who gather together to get rid of the one thing that pisses them off, a man in a $2 William Shatner mask. No, seriously. Some people suggest that the mask for the original Michael Myers is based on a guy who just went up into space in a penis rocket! There is not a ton of substance in this film, but it definitely delivers style. I approve of the film despite its flaws. I’m going to give “Halloween Kills” a 6/10.

“Halloween Kills” is now playing in theaters everywhere. The film is also available to stream on Peacock Premium free of any additional charge.

Thanks for reading this review! Now if you thought “Halloween Kills was scary, just wait and see what I’ll be reviewing next. This weekend I went to see “The Last Duel,” one of my most anticipated movies of the season, and without giving much away, “The Last Duel” makes “Halloween Kills” look like a family film. I cannot wait to talk about the movie, I have a lot to say. Also be on the lookout for my reviews of “No Time to Die” and “Dune,” both of which will be coming soon. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account and also be sure to check out the official Facebook page to stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Halloween Kills?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a movie where you think one of the main characters should have gotten more screen time? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Freaky (2020): A Big Slash of Freaky Fun

“Freaky” is directed by Christopher Landon (Happy Death Day, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones) and stars Kathryn Newton (Blockers, Supernatural), Vince Vaughn (Wedding Crashers, The Internship), Katie Finneran (Night of the Living Dead, The Michael J. Fox Show), Celeste O’Conner (Selah and the Spades, Irreplaceable You), Misha Osherovich (The Goldfinch, NOS4A2), and Alan Ruck (Speed, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). This film is a slasher comedy spin on “Freaky Friday,” the 1972 book written by Mary Rodgers, which was adapted into two movies from Disney. This time around, a high schooler named Millie lives her life as an outcast, and as the trailer claims, if this were a horror movie, she would be one of the first to die. Appropriately, she gets killed by the Blissfield Butcher, a known serial killer. Instead of dying, she ends up in the killer’s body, and they must switch back in 24 hours otherwise their switch will become permeant.

When it comes to “Freaky Friday,” the source material which this movie takes much inspiration from, that is a concept that you can utilize to enormous success. I’ve read the book, I’ve seen the original Disney film (which sucked), and I can only say that body switching provides endless possibilities. So when I saw the trailer for “Freaky” and found out that a killer and its victim switch bodies, needless to say I was in. Plus, I love the two leads and to see them together is a match made in Heaven.

This movie is a mix of “Freaky Friday,” “Friday the 13th,” and “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” specifically if it really emphasized the presence of Jack Black’s character, and it handles all those elements smoothly. The first five minutes of the film are pure horror clichés done well. It’s basically teens making poor decisions, kind of like in that GEICO commercial they now play every Halloween.

“If you’re in a horror movie, you make poor decisions. It’s what you do.”

“Freaky” is a slasher comedy, and I think overall that the movie does a spectacular job at not trying too hard to be one thing. It takes two genres, blends them together, and each element of the recipe matches up to deliver something excellent. And part of this is because I recognize that this is sort of goofy, while still being presentable enough for a theatrical environment. The film comes from Blumhouse, a studio known for making small budget horror movies, and the budget for “Freaky” is around $5 million. Now, if you went on a game show, that’s a good payday. Although when it comes to making movies in Hollywood, that’s basically chump change. This movie, for a $5 million feature, does not look half bad. In fact, I think much of the beauty is owed to director Christopher Landon, cinematographer Laurie Rose, and even editor Ben Baudhuin. There are several shots that line up incredibly well with what comes after it based on what exactly is featured in them. I can only imagine the storyboards for this movie! Everything feels intricate and planned out! Aside from “Tenet,” I don’t think I have seen better editing in a movie this year.

I said before that this movie is partially reminiscent of “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.” While it is nowhere near as expensive or bloated with visuals, it nevertheless feels that way. And if you ask me, I think “Freaky” is better than “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and a much more timeless story. It is hard to tell whether “Freaky” will actually stand the test of time, but I do see it becoming a cult classic over the years. This is especially supported by how 2020 is basically a wasteland for entertainment. Yes, we’re watching a lot of TV, but that’s because it’s where we aim our eyes most of the time nowadays! Movies are practically nonexistent! There is a solid chance that movie watchers could find this on cable or Netflix or something and it becomes a Halloween mainstay. “Freaky,” if you ask me, has that potential.

If you ask me, the best part of this movie is Vince Vaughn, not as his character, the Blissfield Butcher, but as Kathryn Newton’s character, Millie, after they switch bodies. Seeing the character’s self-revelation is wildly entertaining. There’s this minor segment of the film where we see Millie groovin’ in a beaver outfit because she’s dressed up as the school mascot. But then we see after the major incident of the film, in order to show that Vince Vaughn is Kathryn Newton’s character, he’s just busting a move like a moron. The icing on the cake to that is showing off whatever this movie’s version of a secret handshake is. Similar to that, when we see Vince Vaughn’s personality move to Kathryn Newton’s body, her reaction, while I would have done it a little differently if I were writing the screenplay, was entertaining to watch. And it also addresses something all guys, and yes, ALL GUYS, YOU KNOW THIS IS TRUE, would do if they were in a girl’s body. One of the first things we see teenage girl Vince Vaughn doing is playing with her boobs. Wait, her boobs? His boobs? What’s the proper identity here? At the same time, we see Kathryn Newton’s character in Vince Vaughn’s body, who claims that urinating while standing ain’t bad.

Although one of my favorite scenes in this movie in terms of comedy is one moment in a discount store where we see Vince Vaughn talking to a key character we see through various portions of the film, I won’t dive too much further into it, but it goes to show that not only that “Freaky” has the scares, but tons of comedy chops. There are moments where I cringed, and I mean that in a good way. This movie, at certain points, is like experiencing life as Marty McFly in 1955 and finding out your mother wants to f*ck you. If you ask me, “Freaky” is no “Back to the Future,” but like “Back to the Future,” there are some truly hypnotizing character moments that rattled my brain like I switched on a vibrate function for it.

By the end of this movie, I just walked out having a good time. The young teens are genuinely funny. Kathryn Newton is killer, literally. Vince Vaughn continues to be legendary. And if there is one thing that I will remember this movie for the most, aside from how it executes its slick concept, it’s the chemistry between each character. I will also not lie when I say that it was sort of satisfying to see Kathryn Newton go from the school outcast to the sadistic “murder Barbie,” as Josh (Misha Osherovich) puts it. Newton is cute, but I can assure you she is not cuddly. Speaking of Josh… WOW. I want to see more from this guy.

I’ve already seen a few projects with Kathryn Newton, so I will not say this about her. Although if I wanted to point out anyone who has a bright future ahead as an actor, that designation would belong to Misha Osherovich. “Freaky” is admittedly the first full-length project I’ve seen him in, and I would certainly not mind seeing more of him. Part of my praise for him may have to do with the writing, as he does have some of my favorite lines in the movie, but I would love to see him as the star of a film one day maybe as someone really nerdy. He has that pitch to him that can align with that demographic. I think Osherovich can play such a character type very well. I would love to see more from this guy, no matter what it is. I think he has chops that we have yet to see. I want more!

In the end, “Freaky” is freakin’ fun. If you are looking for a stellar night out at the movies, this will serve you well. I will admit that horror is one of my weaker genres, therefore I barely dedicate any time to such movies. This was a fun horror flick that was hilarious yet scary. It’s part “Friday the 13th,” part “Jumanji,” part “Freaky Friday,” and all thumbs up! I came to this movie as I enjoy watching Kathryn Newton, but I stayed for Vince Vaughn. Both actors are incredible in this movie and make it worth the price of admission. I’m going to give “Freaky” a 7/10.

By the way, for those of you who remember earlier this year, Universal made a deal with AMC that would allow them to avoid utilizing the 90 day theatrical window. In other words, despite how “Freaky” is playing in theaters, it will not be long before it can be viewed at home. “Freaky” will be available on VOD to watch wherever you want on Tuesday, December 1st! If your local theaters are still closed, if you are not comfortable going to the theater, or if you are just not a fan of the movies, “Freaky” will arrive at home early as part of an observance towards the unusual 17 day theatrical window. I will say, for me, “Freaky” was a hell of a time at the movies, but I will leave the preferred experience up to the individual.

Thanks for reading this review! I don’t have any plans to go to the theater this weekend, although on Tuesday I will be watching Amazon’s new movie “Sound of Metal.” The film is set to hit theaters a few days later, specifically Friday, and will hit Prime Video two weeks after its theatrical debut. I will have my review up as soon as possible. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Freaky?” What did you think about it? Or, did you watch either of the “Freaky Friday” movies? Did you ever read the book? Tell me your thoughts! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Fantasy Island (2020): Fantasy F***ing Island

“Fantasy Island” is directed by Jeff Wadlow (Kick-Ass 2, Truth or Dare) and stars Michael Peña (Ant-Man, Dora and the Lost City of Gold), Maggie Q, Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars, Truth or Dare), Austin Stowell (Bridge of Spies, Dolphin Tale), Portia Doubleday (Mr. Robot, Carrie), Jimmy O. Yang (Silicon Valley, Fresh Off the Boat), Ryan Hansen (Friday the 13th, Party Down), and Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy, Days of Thunder). This film is based the television series of the same name, and takes place on an island where visitors see their fantasies come to life. However, as time passes, those fantasies lead to nightmares.

If you’re wondering how I spent my Halloween, I did not really do much. I watched “The Simpsons” on FXX, which was airing a Treehouse of Horror marathon, I had more food than usual, and my mother and I hunkered down to watch this disposable film in the living room. I have never been exposed to any previous material related to the “Fantasy Island” IP. I am aware that previous material exists, in fact my mother pointed out some details about the movie that harkens back to older material. Unfortunately, regardless of whatever faithfulness toward older material this film provides, it is not enough to make a good movie.

This film is tonally inconsistent, structurally discombobulated, and all around just forgettable. Without looking them up on IMDb, I cannot tell you almost a single character’s name from memory. This is how bad the movie is.

This movie is an hour and forty-nine minutes long, it did not need to be that long. Honestly, if this movie took out some of the over the top exposition, they could have trimmed the runtime down by like a few minutes, maybe ten. Short and sweet wins the race! “Fantasy Island” shows that there is a fantasy out there for everyone. If your fantasy is to be treated like an idiot while being overexposed, then this is the movie for you. There are barely any scenes where one can appreciate the sound of silence, embrace the visual art of filmmaking. It’s almost like words are being hammered over your head and you have no choice but to stand by and take it.

One of the core aspects of “Fantasy Island” is seeing these different personalities come together. They originate from alternate walks of life, they have separate fantasies, and it is cool to see some of them in action. But this is also where the movie suffers in a way. It is great to see these ideas and personalities mesh together. However, the movie also suffers because you have all these characters with different backgrounds and aspirations, that there is no one tone that defines the final product. Is it supposed to be lively? Depressing? Hardcore? Sensual? You could make an argument that it is all those things in one, but as a result, the movie sort of suffers from an identity problem. It’s just weird having to jump back and forth to see something vastly different every scene. There are even moments where we linger on one character for so long that I forget somebody else in this film even exists.

Let’s talk about the script of “Fantasy Island.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I am pretty sure this was written in crayon. This is an actual line from the movie.

“Oh, I feel just like Jodie Foster in that Jodie Foster movie.”

“Fantasy Island” is a classic for the ages!

The script for “Fantasy Island” comes off as a punishment for those who ever thought of paying money to see it. There is almost nothing noteworthy about this film. It is a sorry excuse of a script. Not one character will be remembered, not one line stands out as iconic, not one idea feels bold. All around, it feels lazy. It’s almost as if Sony wanted to make this movie so bad they didn’t care how many drafts the script took. It’s colossally terrible! The movie is from the horror-based studio, Blumhouse. And naturally, they took the iconic property of “Fantasy Island” with an intention of fitting in a horror twist. But it doesn’t come off that way. The film is not that scary! If anything, it’s more hilarious than it is terrifying!

Fantasy Fucking Island Jimmy OYang GIF - FantasyFuckingIsland JimmyOYang BraxWeaver GIFs

“Fantasy f*cking island.” -Brax Weaver

Me too brother. I feel the same way. How did we get here?

I saw a lot of movies in 2018, and one movie that came out that year is “Truth or Dare,” another Blumhouse production. I missed that film, and I still have not seen it to this day. In fact part of me is glad I still have not seen it as it has received mostly negative reviews and has garnered a 5.2/10 on IMDb. Turns out that “Fantasy Island” is from the same director, writer, producer, and has even brought back Lucy Hale as a cast member for this film. Have we learned nothing?

Wait… “Truth or Dare” almost made a $100 million on a small budget?

“Truth or Dare” is getting a sequel?

Take me to FANTASY. F*CKING. ISLAND.

Unlike some other bad movies I have seen this year though, “Fantasy Island” has one advantage compared to its competition. I watched this film alongside my mother, and we had no regrets. This is the kind of film that if you want to get flat out wasted while watching, I would not object, because it definitely has that vibe. So if you invite your friends to your fantasy island to watch the disaster known as “Fantasy Island,” I can guarantee you all will be on Fantasy f*cking Island.

I said earlier in this review that not one character will be remembered. While I still sort of stand by that, I will say one of my big wonders for this film, is how the casting for JD and Brax came to fruition. Because I watched this movie and I don’t know if this was coincidental, it’s like looking at Bill and Ted, except that Bill and Ted had genuine charisma and chemistry. I did not watch this in the theater so thankfully I got to shout as loud as I want, but every other scene I would say something like “Duuuude” or “Excellent!” They feel like carbon copies of a much more compelling duo! Some of their dialogue represents that too!

Speaking of casting, this movie originally offered the role of Mr. Roarke, which ultimately went to Michael Peña, to Nicolas Cage.

Have you seen his resume in recent years? Also, Cage! You made a mistake! If they got Nicolas Cage, I would argue that this could have been the greatest bad movie ever made. I could just imagine the zaniness all over! What a missed opportunity! Michael Peña does what he can here, and I could tell that he is giving it his all, but his performance does not hide some recent complaints. Overexplaining, too much reliance on dialogue, and horrible writing. I can also imagine the direction in this film.

“Quiet on set! Lucy Hale, explain everything to the audience like they don’t have brains! Take 57! Action!”

Did I mention one of the three guys who wrote this movie, Jeff Wadlow, also has a screenplay credit for “Bloodshot?” I did not review that film, mainly due to a lack of motivation, but I am getting concerned for Wadlow’s life choices.

I will also say, one thing that is different about this movie compared to a few other bad films this year is that when it comes to a recent bad movie I saw, specifically “The Hunt,” is that I felt more emotionally attached to the film upon leaving it. By that I mean I felt complete and total anger, but I still felt something. “Fantasy Island” did not really let me feel much of anything. Yes, I was shouting at the screen, laughing, maybe getting a little angry here and there. However, upon leaving the film I started to forget about it. All my emotions separated from my head and went to its own little island. That can be a good thing because “Fantasy Island” is not a good movie, and the sooner I can forget about it, the better. But it also shows that there is no lasting impact. “The Hunt” made me genuinely fill myself with rage, and that was kind of the point of the film at times. “Fantasy Island” tries to be entertaining and scary, but fails at every step of the way. As a result, we have a forgettable mess.

In the end, “Fantasy Island” is a major waste of valuable time. You can probably watch this movie if you’re drunk. But I would rather preserve my liver. The cast, while somewhat competent, are all wasted. Not one person in this schlock added anything of value. All that happened to added were endless streams of exposition. At one moment this movie is a poppy wonderland, the next moment we’re at war, the next moment we’re having date night, it’s just a lot happening at once. The movie has too many characters that all feel disposable. These tones would be fine if the characters were fine. However, that’s not the case. I’m going to give “Fantasy f*cking Island” a 2/10.

Thanks for reading this review! I am hoping to get back to the theater sometime soon to watch something new. The past couple films I reviewed were stuff I watched at home, but if I have time, maybe I’ll check something out like “The Empty Man,” “Come Play,” or “Synchronic.” I will say though, the film I am looking forward to this month more than any other is another Blumhouse production, and that is “Freaky” starring Kathryn Newton and Vince Vaughn. It’s a horror twist on “Freaky Friday.” They just had an early screening in my area, but I did not go as I was watching “Alita: Battle Angel” at the AMC that night. Such a good movie. I will be sure to buy a ticket, watch the movie, and share my thoughts with you all. I think this is going to be absolute fun. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Fantasy Island?” What did you think about it? Or, what did you do for Halloween 2020? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Hunt (2020): A Bloody, Brain-Damaging Political Meltdown

“The Hunt” is directed by Craig Zobel (Compliance, Z for Zachariah) and stars Ike Barinholtz (Blockers, Snatched), Betty Gilpin (GLOW, Nurse Jackie), Amy Madigan (Roe vs. Wade, Gone Baby Gone), Emma Roberts (Nerve, Scream Queens), Ethan Suplee (My Name is Earl, Boy Meets World), and Hilary Swank (Insomnia, Boys Don’t Cry). This film follows twelve strangers who are taken separately but wake up together in a clearing. They eventually find out they are placed for a specific gathering known as the Hunt, where elites take down those of lower class for sport.

“The Hunt” is a film that I have been intrigued by since I saw a trailer for it last year, particularly due to its subject matter. The rich hunt down the poor for sport? Sign me up! This can make for a good movie! Then the movie got delayed because of political and human issues. Although at the same time this movie gained controversy because it’s about liberal elites killing deplorables. I never really bought into this ideology, not because of my views on politics and society, but because I never picked up anything in the marketing that specifically shows anything of extreme political nature. Yes, there’s a lot of weaponry and shooting, and that can associate with the second amendment, but I saw this is a movie where the higher-class and lower-class duke it out! Kind of like “Ready or Not,” although in this case there is more than one person representing the lower class.

Having seen “The Hunt” from start to finish, I now see what everyone is talking about. This movie is extreme, unapologetically political, and most of all, it’s just awful. Awful, plain and simple!

For the record, I saw “The Hunt” towards the end of October 30th. This review is being written on October 31st. So I had some time, not to mention a good night’s sleep to think about this movie. There’s a lot that can happen in one night between the passage of time, stars shooting the air, and figuring out how you can sleep in a different spot than usual on your memory foam mattress. A lot of changes have occurred, and that’s why I’m here to tell you that when it comes to my thoughts on “The Hunt,” I can confirm that ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HAS CHANGED!

“The Hunt” is a mess of a film! The worst part about it, compared to a few other bad movies that came out this year like “Scoob!” and “The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson,” I had reasons to look forward to it! Remember last year when we got “Ready or Not?” That movie SMASHED! I walked out of the auditorium grinning like an idiot because I felt terrified, but I had a ton of fun at the same time. Both movies deal with similar issues. Higher and lower classes going against each other, fighting to the death. But the thing about “Ready or Not,” aside from it being super crazy, balls to the wall, and just an overall good time, is that I did not need to know everything about either side to understand them. I knew one side was elite, the other not as elite. While I was rooting for one person in particular, I at least understood both sides. There was even a fantasy aspect to that movie! That is bonkers! And part of me wishes I came up with the idea for “Ready or Not!”

Here, this film follows a bunch of people on one side, pretty much all of them are on some level of the right. All of them are unlikable. But hey! The left get some representation too! Guess what? It’s just as bad! I don’t care what political identity you have! What your views are on gender roles! Just be a character that does not get on my nerves! There’s a ton of lines in this film that poke toward extremes for the left and right, and pretty much each and every time I lost my mind. Now I don’t mind political or social commentary in my media. It’s everywhere! One of the recent films I reviewed, “Yellow Rose,” follows a family living illegally in the United States. Regardless of my views on that, I saw that the crew managed to make a GOOD STORY first. They didn’t hammer me over the head with what I should believe and treat me like an idiot. Sure, every movie, including that one, has a vision and part of that has to do with what the director or writer feels is “the right of the world,” but if you can do that while creating admirable characters and watchable storylines, you will allow me to keep my attention toward the screen.

I always watch “Family Guy,” which dives deep into a political or societal issue every other episode, but it manages to keep the humor and for the most part, provides some intrigue from a character and story perspective. “The Hunt” had none of that. This feels like a bad “Family Guy” episode stretched out for an hour and a half because it deals with more politics, and crappy characters from left to right. There is not one person I could side with during this film. Everyone is just a caricature of what is wrong with society, and they fail to represent any charm whatsoever.

In fact, this whole movie starts off like a “Family Guy” episode, there’s political humor, blood, gore, and violence. Sometimes it’s borderline comical. Unfortunately, this feels like a “Family Guy” episode from the later seasons, where they rely too much on gross-out humor or dark violence or politics. Too much of something can lead to boredom with said thing. And unfortunately, when it comes to how this movie deals with political satire, it wears out really fast.

“The Hunt” is a movie that made me ask a ton of questions. For example, “Why am I watching this?” Another example, “When will this be over?” Also, “THIS IS ONLY AN HOUR AND A HALF?!” This movie may be short, but it is certainly not sweet. The worst part about this movie, is that my first impression of it resembled a sense of excitement. There was violence, blood, guts, suspense, and all that jazz, but by the time we get to the first moments in the gas station, all the building blocks fall to the ground. Yes, there is some intrigue throughout the movie, but I did not care. The intrigue came from characters who I never grew to admire. I couldn’t stand any of them, and I continued to wonder why I would watch them. And speaking of questions, there is some mystery attached to certain characters as the runtime ticks, but one question I wanted answered about the film never gets answered. I admire when films leave certain points open to interpretation, but this was not one of those times, I just felt pissed off if anything.

I will say one thing though, this movie has some good casting. Ike Barinholtz is genuinely charming here, and this should not be a surprise given how Barinholtz usually turns out to be one of the best parts of everything he’s in. Even in “Snatched,” that terrible Amy Schumer flick, he had some of the best lines and was arguably the most energetic member of the cast. Barinholtz gives it his all. Hilary Swank is likable here too as the mysterious Athena. And even though I never got attached to the main protagonist of Crystal, I think Betty Gilpin played her part well in this film. The cast is admirable, but you can say the same thing about “Cats” too! Doesn’t say much about the film’s quality! Ian McKellan is in this movie! What does he do? He licks a plate!

I’m out.

I know I recently said that 2020 gave the best film of the year with “Over the Moon,” which if you have not seen, it is extraordinary. But with “The Hunt,” this reminds me of the horrors 2020 originally intended to deliver. Part of me is glad I did not see this in March, because I wouldn’t have wanted my final movie theater experience before the pandemic to be so insufferable that I would not want to go back when everything returned to normal. Not only is this one of the worst films of 2020, but by far one of the most disappointing. I heard it was going to get political. I thought it would just be sprinkled in! THIS IS RIDDLED with political madness! Or even issues that should be human issues that are made political because our society is making heads spin all over! Just talking about this movie makes me ultra-nervous for my next physical, because it’s sending my blood pressure through the roof!

In the end, “The Hunt” is almost indescribably bad. “The Hunt” makes me want to move to Canada! I’ve rarely felt as grossed-out, and I don’t mean that in a good way, after watching a movie. Again, I go back to “Ready or Not.” That film deals with similar themes, but it leaves all the fun in there while also handling the serious vibe that these themes bring. And most importantly, in that movie, I cared about everyone, regardless of their motivations! So if you want to watch something spooky this Halloween, go watch “Ready or Not,” now available on DVD, Blu-ray, Digital, HBO, and HBO Max! Don’t watch “The Hunt!” And I will say, I live in the United States. This is too much politics for me before an election. Although I really hope that failed to sway me in one direction or the other in regard to my opinion on this movie. What is my opinion on this movie, you ask? I’m going to give “The Hunt” a 2/10.

This movie had a fantastic start, but it is all downhill from there! If you have brain cells, do yourself a favor, take a nap. Don’t watch this movie! They say that television rots the brain, but this movie destroys it. Avoid “The Hunt” at all costs!

Thanks for reading this review! Happy Halloween to everyone reading this, otherwise known as the last day that I will tell everyone, “IT’S NOT CHRISTMASTIME YET! STOP DECORATING THE STORES!” November 1st is when I think it’s go time. Although if I have to hear some of the same songs over and over again, I will consider going into cryogenic sleep. Nevertheless, I’m not sure what my next review will be. I will be a bit busy next week as I will be celebrating my 21st birthday. For all I know, I might not even post anything. Although I have been dedicated to making a post a week for years now, so who knows. Anything can happen! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Hunt?” What did you think about it? Also, did you see “Ready or Not?” What are your thoughts on that? Personally it is favorite movie of 2019! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!