After tackling several serious films (First Man, 22 July, A Star is Born), some lighter fare seemed in order for Crave. What better than another instalment in a long running horror franchise, and a submarine thriller about a looming third world war? Simon checks out Halloween and Hunter Killer.
This is the ninth, or perhaps 11th, Halloween movie, depending on whether you include the Rob Zombie remakes of recent years. Folks, you can’t keep an evil psychopath down. Especially one who can make money on a small budget. This latest version is by far the biggest earner at the box office ($178 million so far, on a $10 million budget), and those that came before it never made huge money by today’s standards, but they were cheap to make.
So, yes, the 2018 version, with Michael Myers and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) once again squaring off on Halloween night, is putting bums on seats. Is it any good?
First let’s say that the movie’s poster held out the promise of something a little different for Hollywood: a film with the hero being a middle aged, grey haired woman. Laurie Strode first met Michael Myers in 1978, and here we are with the same actress playing the same character forty years later. Our hero is a grandmother who can kick ass. About time.
And Halloween starts well. Actually very well. Some clever editing and directing in the opening sequence where we meet two psychologists visiting Michael Myers in prison is effectively done and holds out the promise of a horror thriller of some quality.
But the promise soon fades as formulaic storytelling takes over. As is the case with these sorts of horror films, you need to have a large-ish cast so that we can thrill to their demise as the film proceeds. Trouble is, introducing and getting to know so many characters tends to slow down the pace of the film and muddy its focus. We meet Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) early on but she has to take a back seat as others get their time onscreen.
I’d have preferred to spend more time with Laurie and the villain, face to face, or rather face to mask. I know the idea is that our villain never speaks, but let’s see how she tries to get inside his head, so to speak. Instead she just wants to blow his head off with a shotgun, thus leaving little room for character development.
One last point. Is Michael Myers supposed to have some sort of superhuman resilience? Given this film follows a conventional timeline, we must assume that the character is in his 60’s, yet he brushes off all manner of damage to his body and keeps coming back for more. By the end it was hard not to laugh.
Anyway, there are a few decent scares, one decent twist, and a lot of mayhem. Could be just what you’re after.
Got to say I find something appealing about a submarine drama. It seems scary enough just to be in a submarine when all is well, let alone when torpedoes are bearing down upon it, promising a watery end to all inside.
I enjoyed The Hunt for Red October, with Sean Connery and our Sam Neill, and I even have fond memories from childhood of tv series called Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. All that baggage prompted me to check out Hunter Killer.
The premise of the film is that a rogue Russian defence minister has had enough of his president pandering to the West, so he decides to stage a coup, and provoke the United States into war. The Americans twig to what’s going on, and despatch their submarine Arkansas, led by Commander Joe Glass (Gerard Butler) and a Navy SEAL team, led by Lt Bill Beaman (Toby Stephens) to rescue the Russian leader.
Far fetched, sure. But in this era of a former reality tv show presenter as US President, who promises to wall off the southern border of his country and calls for teachers to carry guns in schools, is any plot too silly?
Hunter Killer has a terrible title for a movie, but it does have enough I suspect to satisfy those hankering for an action adventure. There’s plenty of military action, political tension, and underwater thrills.
The film does repeat a theme explored in The Hunt for Red October. In that case the Americans help a rogue Russian commander (Connery), and here, Gerard Butler’s character strikes up a bromance with Russian counterpart Captain Sergei Andropov (Michael Nyqvist). Actually I thought this was the best of the film. I don’t think Butler has matched his work from 300 in his later films, but here he handles the role of an embattled, but brave and honourable submarine commander rather well.
Sadly someone who did not do rather well was Oscar winner Gary Oldman. I thought his turn as Admiral Donnegan was one of the most overacted pieces of work to come along in many a year.
Still, there’s something about the drama of being in that big tin can that remains appealing. Hunter Killer is B grade fare in many ways, and there’s not a lot here to take you by surprise, but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.