IT’S HERE. IT’S FINALLY HERE!!!! Short review: Dear Duffer Brothers, I LOVE YOU. The end.
No, but seriously, I was salivating at the thought of a season two of this show. Like most people, I fell in love with ‘Stranger Things’. Mostly because it caught me completely off guard. I knew nothing about this show when season one came out and I got recommended it from just the buzz off the internet. Then I watched it all in like two days and I fell in love with the kids and just the feel of the show. It literally captured some of my favorite stories and films from the 80s all in one show. Spielberg films, Stephen King stories, and coming of age films from the decade are just some of the obvious influences of the show. All the characters I was in love with and I felt like I was playing Dungeons and Dragons with Mike, Dustin, Will, and Lucas. And plus this show was just so damn fun. Now, when I originally heard that there was going to be a season 2, I hesitated. Because I loved season one so much and I really did not want the ‘sequel’ to tarnish the original. SPOILER: It does not. This season is better than season one. ‘Stranger Things 2’ does everything a season two of ‘Stranger Things’ should have done. Dial the 80s nostalgia up to 11, check, introduce more awesome and fascinating characters into the mix, check, more back story for “Eleven”, check, ghostbuster costumes, check, and finally develop the existing characters with an even more emotional weight to them, check. I was blown away of how this surpassed the first season in every way.
This season picks up a year after the events of the first season. And I swear to you it’s like the Duffers didn’t miss a beat. It’s so obvious that they have the style of the show down pact. I obviously don’t want to spoil anything about the show, but in order to talk about season two’s plot, I have to SPOIL something for season one so just a warning here. So as you know they got Will out of the upside down and Eleven is stuck in the upside down in the end of season one. We meet Will and the gang during Halloween, but things are happening to Will….strange things. Like I said the direction in this show is fan-freaking-tastic. The Duffer Brothers, Shawn Levy, and now a newcomer to the series Andrew Stanton all do an incredible job. I was SO happy to see Stanton involved with this show. If you don’t know Stanton is a regular at the animation studio Pixar and has directed some of my favorite films of theirs like “Wall-E’ and ‘Finding Nemo’. The performances are just as good here as they are in season one. All the kids are just so great. I want to hang out with them all so bad. But obviously, Millie Bobbie Brown who plays ‘Eleven’ steals the show again. She is truly a special talent. When she matures and becomes an even better actress, she is going to be HUGE. Winona Ryder is back as Joyce and she’s even better in this season. You can tell that she learned a lot from the first season of playing this character and she knocks it out of the park again. David Harbour as Hopper again is another standout. The thing about this show is there is no weak link. Everyone is great. The new characters are great as well. I love Max who is a new girl in town who gets involved with the gang and she is great. But I was so excited that I heard Sean Astin was going to be part of this season. I’m a huge fan and I loved him as Bob in this season. Another major pro of this season is the pace of it. With the exception of one episode, (that I will talk about later), this show didn’t really have a “filler” episode. Each one of the nine episodes propelled the story along with interesting and super fun plot elements. I was so surprised that I liked mostly EVERY turn and risk that the plot took in this season. My favorite episodes by far were MADMAX, The Spy, and The Mind Flayer. As for negatives, I think most people who have seen the season know what I’m going to say. Episode 7: The Lost Sister was a weak point for ‘Stranger Things’. In my opinion, it is the worst episode that ‘Stranger Things’ has done so far. The execution of that episode was very weak. And I wasn’t a huge of the style that the director chose to do in the episode. While I liked the concept of the episode, I just think they failed at executing it to their fullest. But other than that I FREAKING LOVED THIS SEASON! Bring on season three!!!
HAPPY HALLOWEEN! I thought this would be an absolutely perfect opportunity to discuss my favorite film to watch during this time of year. As many of you know, ‘Halloween’ came out in the year 1978 and changed the horror landscape forever for the better as well as for worse. In this review, I’m going to discuss why I feel ‘Halloween’ is the best movie you can watch on this awesome day as well as hopefully giving some insight into why this film is so revered and is celebrated over 30 years later. And also maybe explain why I like horror so much. Because I have a lot of friends that just don’t understand the horror genre. HOPEFULLY, I CAN CHANGE THEIR MINDS AND MAKE THEM ENJOY HORROR! If you don’t know the story of ‘Halloween’, the film is about Michael Myers 15 years after murdering his sister on Halloween night, he escapes his mental asylum to his small hometown to kill again. This film was directed by horror LEGEND, John Carpenter. He is also behind another one of my favorite horror films, ‘The Thing’. And this was the debut role for Jamie Lee Curtis, who is the original “scream queen”. What I love most about this film and what I think makes this film so timeless is the atmosphere that this film builds as well as the AWESOME killer with Michael Myers. Before going into the incredible direction in this film, I must stress how great the character of Michael Myers is. The best thing about him is that their many questions asked about him. Is Michael Myers just a crazy guy? Or is he a supernatural force? Carpenter gives us just the perfect amount of back story on this guy and shoots him in an almost ghostly way creating the blurred line between human and supernatural. The more little you know about the killer the scarier he is. And obviously, Carpenter created an ICON. Whether you’ve seen the film or not, you know exactly what Michael Myers looks like. Back to the atmosphere, this film just makes me feel so cozy inside. Fall is my favorite season and I love Halloween and the spirit around it in suburbia. It reminds me of my childhood. So watching this on Halloween or during the fall season is the perfect time to watch it. And probably the most important thing that Halloween did for cinema, it created the modern-day slasher film. Many tropes that you see in modern slasher films, ‘Halloween’ started it. Teenage victims, the scream queen, punishing teens for using drugs and sex, and of course the theme song. Another great about this film is, of course, the scares. While I don’t find this movie quite terrifying, there are a lot of creepy shots that I love. I don’t want to spoil any of the iconic shots in this film so I’ll just leave it at that. The scares are a lot of fun and this film isn’t very gory so If you want something scary with not a lot of gore, I would recommend this film. Long review short, this is a very iconic and fun horror film to watch during this time of year. It obviously is a hugely influential film and launched a crap load of sequels(Most of which are HORRIBLE). Without this film, we wouldn’t have gotten things like ‘Friday the 13th’ or ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ franchises.
So after talking about ‘Halloween’, I wanted to answer a question that I get a lot from friends. Why do I enjoy horror films? Why does anyone enjoy horror? Horror is one of the most popular genres of film in the modern age. Just look at the box office. Just this past month, “It” has made TRUCKLOADS of money. And “Happy Deathday” is doing well too in the box office. So why? In my opinion, I think it is very related to comedies. Why do we go to comedies? To laugh of course! Laughter is a visceral reaction that when done well can make an auditorium full of people have a great experience together. Fear is the same thing. There is something about getting goosebumps in fear in a theater. Having that experience with a group of strangers is a beautiful thing in my opinion. To me, horror movies are like roller coasters. In a great horror film, (like ‘The Shining, for example), I honestly get the same reaction that I do in a rollercoaster that I do in a horror film. And personally, I like scaring people. As an inspiring filmmaker, our job is to create reactions. it’s our job to get you to react and have several feelings watching a film. And the best way to do that is by scaring people.
Looking for something on Netflix? With the new Stephan King horror film ‘It’ KILLING it at the box office this past weekend (well-deserved by the way), I thought this would be a good time to give some suggestions to you all about the best horror films that are streaming on Netflix right now if you are looking for a horror film to watch! Below I listed the four best horror films (in no particular order) that are steaming right now in my opinion.
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
This is a remarkable film for a few reasons. One is that this is one of the best horror/comedies ever made. But this film is more terrifying than it is funny. It’s directed by John Landis who’s known for making LEGENDARY comedies like ‘Animal House’ and ‘The Blues Brothers’. It follows two friends who go to England on vacation and well……one of them gets bit by a werewolf and all hell breaks loose. The comedy comes from the two college students at the beginning of the film and is peppered in throughout the rest of the film, But what this film truly is is a scary and surprisingly an emotional film. If you looking for a classic horror film to watch I would totally recommend this one. Also, if you’re into special effects/makeup, this movie has some of the best effects I’ve ever seen. Most notably the infamous scene of the transformation from human to wolf is almost too real looking and makes you squirm in your seat with terror.
If you’re looking to get the living piss scared out of you, V/H/S is your movie. I’m going to tell you guys an embarrassing story about this film. I was watching this film by myself in my room back in my junior year in high school. If you don’t know what V/H/S is, this is an anthology movie. It is a movie that basically is a compilation of about 5 short horror films that are all directed by different people, acting in a larger story about people in a house who find V/H/S tapes and watch them. The tapes are the short films. So anyway, the one about the skype conversation, I yelped. Yes. I yelped. I felt like I have been defeated. But this movie is extremely creepy, but it makes no sense. But it’s not made for that. This is a movie that is made purely to scare you and I think works really well.
The Babadook (2014)
This was my favorite horror film of 2014. It was also one of my favorite films in 2014. Period. This is an Australian horror film about a widowed mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her. This film falls into the category of a psychological horror film. This film is way more than just a monster movie. This is, in my opinion, the most disturbing film on this list. It’s a film that is disturbing because of its themes about dealing with loss and how one does that. I don’t want to spoil this movie for anyone because I didn’t know anything about this movie when I saw it, so I was blown away by this movie, Director Jennifer Kent does a brilliant job building tension and creating genuine scares and Essie Davis gives one of the best performances I’ve ever seen in a horror film.
The Shining (1980)
The most classic horror film on Netflix right now. If you haven’t seen this CLASSIC film yet, I highly recommend it. This is probably my favorite horror film of all time so just for me PLEASE WATCH IT. Legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick changed horror filmmaking forever when this came out. This is a highly influential Stephen King adaptation with an ICONIC performance by Jack Nicholson with a ton of iconic scenes as well. If you haven’t seen it, watch it and truly marvel at how beautifully constructed and unsettling this film is.
Short review: This movie scared me. A lot. Long Review: Stephen King has A LOT of novels and short stories. Many of them have been turned into films and TV shows. ‘IT’ being one of Stephen King’s most beloved books, it was bound for a studio to make an adaptation of this one. We had a two-part mini-series on TV back in 1990 that starred Tim Curry as Pennywise. I have never seen the mini-series nor read the book so I will not be comparing those to this movie. I will be judging the movie just on its own merits. And I’m happy to say that this is a damn good horror movie. I was pretty excited to see this because, like most people, I saw the trailer and was genuinely freaked out by it. I don’t do well with clowns at all. I was really scared of them as a kid. Still am. So as you can probably tell, this movie frighten me quite a bit. If you don’t know what this movie is about, the plot is a group of bullied kids, known as the “Losers Club”, band together when a monster, taking the appearance of a clown, begins hunting children. The thing that I loved this movie for and what I think most people will get out of this is that this movie is a fantastic blend of two genres: Coming of age and horror. This movie is actually an extremely sweet, funny, and emotional coming of age film, expertly fused with a R-rated horror film. And a SCARY one at that. Some of the images in this film I know will stick with me. My favorite thing about this movie by far is the “Losers Club”. All the kids, every single one of them, is fantastic. They each have a distinct character trait and background and they all have amazing chemistry with one another. My favorites were Richie and Eddie. But they’re all great, seriously. All these kids have bright futures in front of them as actors. I can see people having conversations arguing who their favorite is. Director Andy Musechietti constructs these scares in a unique way. The jump scares are really fun and sometimes very unexpected. Not gonna lie I jumped a few times. Now let’s discuss what everyone wants to know. How was Pennywise the clown? I thought Bill Skarsgard was excellent in this role. He was really charismatic and inviting, so you were drawn to him every time he was on-screen. He had many voice inflections and body movements that really creeped me out. One thing that I loved about Pennywise too was the effects on him. They used some CGI and practical effects on him and I was impressed how seamless it was. There were a couple of shots where it was noticeable but for the most part it looked really good. Another thing that was great about this film was the way it looked. It was shot beautifully and had a nice color palette to it. My last positive is this film takes some risks with its story. It does things with the kids that I wasn’t expecting them to do and I applauded them for doing that. They really pulled no punches with these scenes. For example the opening scene. If you’ve seen the movie…..you know what I’m talking about. I do have a couple of negatives though. In my opinion there were a couple of cheesy things that happen towards the end of the movie that I felt were really unnecessary. Also, all the adults in this movie are horrible people. It seemed to be a theme in the film, I just wish that theme was a little clearer of why all the adults in the movie were so horrible. And like most horror movies, I could telegraph some of the scares. But other than that, I think this is an awesome and fun horror film. I loved both the horror aspects of this film as well as the sweet coming of age elements. I love all these kids and was having a blast the whole movie and honestly didn’t really want the movie to end. I honestly believe that this version of Pennywise is going to go down in history as one of the best horror movie villains of all time. Up there with Freddy Kruger and Jason.