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Halloween

Since 1978 John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’ series has scared audiences. The tale of a masked maniac stalking teenagers blazed a trail for countless similar franchises such as ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘Friday the 13th’. Reaching its 11th entry, ‘Halloween’ ignores the sequels and directly follows on from the first movie. This streamlines the story without being hampered by the increasingly confusing mythology. ‘Halloween’ attempts to be a straight up thrill-ride with October 31 looking deadlier than ever.

Forty years after his killing spree terrorized the citizens of Haddonfield, Michael Myers (Nick Castle) is safely locked away at Smith’s Grove Sanatorium. One of his few surviving victims, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), is still haunted by his actions. Suffering from ongoing post-traumatic stress, Laurie has attempted to move on with life by raising her daughter Karen (Judy Greer). Unfortunately evil soon rears its vicious head as Myers escapes custody. The murderous trail swiftly begins anew as Myers hunts Laurie that leads to a showdown between old enemies.

The main question viewers want answered about ‘Halloween’ is if it’s scary. It has its moments as Laurie increasingly warns others of the dangers they face. Curtis portrays a woman scarred by the past very well, proving what an accomplished actress she is. Laurie isn’t weak and will take the fight to Michael. Her relationship with her family also defines her rage with several smart set-pieces showing Laurie’s determination in exorcising her demons. ‘Halloween’ is one of the better acted entries with director David Gordon Green re-invigorating a series that was in danger of becoming a parody of itself.

Whilst the performances and overall story are involving, the ratio of genuine scares is low. Like many recent horror movies, ‘Halloween’ ironically seems too afraid to push the boundaries of terror in favour of cheap jump-scares. The lack of music highlights this as the moody tension of the original is missing. Copious editing would have also helped as ‘Halloween’ feels overly long which saps any much-needed creepy atmosphere. Thankfully it isn’t a gore-fest despite the high body count and the character development is stronger than previously.

Although not exactly a return to form, ‘Halloween’ sits near the top of the franchise’s scoreboard. It notches up a few decent thrills but not enough to call it truly scary. But it’s always a pleasure seeing Jamie Lee Curtis further developing her iconic role that not even the blade of Michael Myer’s knife could subdue.

Rating out of 10: 6

Hereditary

‘Hereditary’ faces an uphill battle due to its genre. A horror movie, there are those who loathe being scared. An emotion not many want to feel, being frightened has seen countless books, films and TV shows garner huge success. The genre can be a double edged sword as it only appeals to a certain paying audience instead of a general one. But ‘Hereditary’ may find more viewing scope than others due to an imaginative script shredding the nerves shortly after the cinema theatre lights dim.

Annie (Toni Collette) and her husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne) live with their two children in a large house. Still mourning the death of her mother, Annie begins to notice strange occurrences. When told her mother’s grave has been desecrated setting off a chain reaction of unbridled terror. Uncovering dark familial secrets, Annie and her family are swiftly placed in peril as evil prepares to strike from the shadows.

Directed with great visual flair by Ari Aster, ‘Hereditary’ relies heavily on its look. The warped visions Annie sees go a long way in creating atmospheric dread as she uncovers clues as to what’s happening. The puzzle box of conspiracies gradually evolves into an aria of horror deceptively pulling each family member into a savage quagmire. Despite uneven performances, the engaging script and excellent cinematography ensures ‘Hereditary’ breaks out from the glut of spooky films.

As with any decent horror movie, ‘Hereditary’ takes a tangible slice of everyday life and turns it into something wicked. This dose of reality enables viewers to feel the scares of which ‘Hereditary’ has in abundance. The shocks are genuine with consistent creepy moments. Whilst a few genre clichés seep through, sparks of originality shine with a commendably daring conclusion not many will guess.

Although let down by some dodgy acting, ‘Hereditary’ makes its mark. It’s difficult being scared given the amount of similar movies that have come before. ‘Hereditary’ gives it a good go with Aster’s directorial talent one to watch as his latest provides a potential stepping stone to greater horrific heights.

Rating out of 10: 6