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Subj: Halloween (2018) and Leatherface (2017)
Posted: Mon Apr 01, 2019 at 01:08:17 pm EDT (Viewed 64 times)
This movie could have been called H40: Halloween 40 Years Later, reminiscent of H20 which came out 20 years ago and marked Jamie Lee Curtis’ last return to the franchise. This de-boot ignores the Rob Zombie remakes of Halloween and ignores all the previous sequels too, acting as a followup to the original John Carpenter movie from 1978.
An aging Laurie Strode has been waiting 40 years for Michael Myers to escape the asylum and come after her again so that she can acquit herself better in the rematch. Last time she cowered in a closet and if it wasn’t for the timely intervention of Dr. Loomis she would have been Michael’s next victim. This time she is prepared to defend herself. Her survivalist preparation lifestyle has driven a wedge between her and her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) who don’t believe Michael will ever escape.
What follows is fairly routine as a prison transfer is a springboard for Michael to escape once again (possibly with assistance), now aged himself but not slowing down a bit. He makes it back to Haddonfield in no time, also assembling his classic costume on the way, and starts making up for lost time. In a nice unbroken shot we see him go into a house, murder the owner, walk back outside, down the street, into another house, and repeat. I guess he’s gotten away from targeting teenage girls in an effort to relive the murder of his sister and he just now kills anyone within arms’ reach for some reason.
This movie reminds me of Prometheus in that it’s nice to see the material being taken seriously once again after a string of subpar sequels and yet it falls short of the original. SPOILERS: Too many characters exist only to advance the plot, like the podcasters who are just there to give Michael his mask “We’ve found the original mask and restored it just to see if it provokes a reaction from him for our interview” or the psychiatrist (the “new Loomis”) who exists only to bring Michael to Laurie for a confrontation “I have to see them together in order to understand how his evil mind works” and they are both killed directly after fulfilling said functions.
This movie stands in contrast to H20 in that instead of moving on with her life and trying to put the past behind her, this Laurie is hanging on to her past as hard as she can out of fear of not being prepared if danger should come back. Perhaps neither found the right balance.
I wish more time had been spent on Laurie and the depth of her traumas and problems. The parts with her and her kids is the best stuff. There are several callbacks to the first movie that foreshadow Laurie taking Michael’s place, like when the granddaughter is in class and looks outside and sees Laurie standing there as Laurie had once seen Michael. Or at the end when Laurie gets thrown out a window and then vanishes from the ground to spring back into action. Actually, you know what would have been a better movie? If Michael never returns at all. His prison transfer bus crashes and it’s the catalyst for her to start seeing him everywhere and start going nuts and after gunning down several people she thinks are him, it turns out he died in the bus crash and she’s just crazy. At least it would have been something new. And if people didn’t like it, they could just ignore it in the next sequel. That’s the trend now.
SPOILERS: I’m a little disappointed that after 40 years of prep and successfully having Michael show up at her death trap house that she didn’t have more traps. Her big plan is to hide in the basement armory, have Michael show up at the top of the stairs to the basement, somehow switch places with him so he ends up in the basement, then lock him in and burn down the house. I’m sure it wasn’t lost on anyone that we see Michael in the burning basement and then in the next shot, he’s no longer in the basement. Did he escape? Only the box office returns know.
I liked the photography, the cast, there was a lot to like in this movie. But the script didn’t quite deliver, in my opinion. But it was sort of fun.
Speaking of horror movies which bear the same title as a previous sequel, here’s the second iteration of Leatherface the first being 1990’s Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. This one is the eighth movie in the overall franchise although being a prequel to the original movie it doesn’t have to acknowledge any of the rest. Which might be good, at least for me, because my viewing is a little spotty and continuity was never a strong suit at any rate. I did see the first four movies which are very loose sequels, then the reboot. I didn’t see the sequel to the reboot or the threeboot Texas Chainsaw 3D and I probably wouldn’t have seen this one except that I saw it in a bin of $2 movies on Black Friday.
In 1950s Texas, the Sawyer family seems to operate outside the law. The movie starts with mother Verna (Lili Taylor) giving her young son Jed a chainsaw and ordering him to cut into the victim tied up at the dinner table while the family watches. A rite of passage in the Sawyer family, no doubt. He refuses which tests Mama’s patience. They are apparently a well known clan of criminals and even after one of them kills the Sheriff’s (Stephen Dorff) daughter they somehow lawyer their way out of it “You can’t prove nothin.’” Still he declares the family unfit parents and he removes the children from the house and sends them to an asylum of some type.
Ten years later, we meet a friendly nurse Lizzy (Vanessa Grasse) who is the kindest staff member in the asylum, attempting to reach her patients and help them rather than mistreat them. Verna visits and causes a commotion which gives several inmates a chance to overthrow the guards and escape. Lizzy finds herself the hostage of Ike and Clarice who are making a run for Mexico. Jackson, another inmate who is Lizzy’s only defender, and Bud, a giant who is somewhat brain scrambled after electroshock are along for the ride and we can’t quite tell if they are hostages or co-conspirators. They stop at a diner where Ike and Clarice start killing patrons and the rest are dragged along, somehow never finding a chance to escape their captors in the chaos.
Sheriff Hartman continues his pursuit of the fugitives along with several deputies who comment that Hartman has gone off the deep end in his zeal to capture the inmates. But really, these people are cutting a swath across the country killing at random, perhaps they should give him a wide berth. All the characters (those who survive) wind up back at the Sawyer farm for a showdown, and there’s a decent amount of blood.
I suppose we’re supposed to wonder which one of these crazies is becoming Leatherface. We’re told at the beginning that all of the inmates have had their names changed so we don’t know which one is baby Jed. The too-obvious choice is Bud, the giant brain scrambled idiot manchild who alternates between childish affection and violent tantrums. But it turns out to be Jackson, the good-looking well-spoken but also violent dreamer who who says to Lizzy “I wish I was someone else, just a normal person in a diner” before everything goes south. After a bullet from the Sheriff takes off most of his jaw, he has his head stitched back together by Verna and held fast by leather straps to validate the movie’s title. I’m not sure how he becomes the hulk we see in the next movie.
Hartman goes from vindictive lawman to outright crazy man, threatening to kill Lizzy just to somehow punish Verna’s clan for his daughter’s death, back to helping Lizzy try to escape. I’m not sure how much sympathy we’re supposed to feel for him. Jackson and Lizzy spend the whole movie as the only people each other can trust, only for Jackson to lop off her head when ordered by his mother to do so at the end. If this movie is just trying to blur the lines for the sake of it, I suppose they succeed. But none of the characters’ growth feels particularly natural or earned, just plot-required.
The DVD has an alternate ending where Jackson refuses to kill Lizzy, but does chop off her leg. But then we find out he has taken off her face to wear as his own, while keeping her alive on a meat hook. I think the theatrical cut gave her a kinder ending. Either way, what is the message of this movie? Nurture trumps nature? Jackson doesn’t want to be a killer but he has to because mama said so?
This movie does feature some beautiful shots of the plains, amber waves of grain and sunsets. Bulgaria doubles for Texas and looks the part.
One of the grosser moments is when three characters hide inside of an animal carcass. I think if Han had really stuffed Luke inside a dead Tauntaun this is probably what it would have been like.