Paul McGuire Grimes, creator of Paul’s Trip to the Movies, sits down with the original scream queen – Jamie Lee Curtis.
HALLOWEEN KILLS (in theaters, Peacock)
Michael Myers is back for more bloodshed in Haddonfield in Halloween Kills. Director David Gordon Green’s new Halloween trilogy kicked off in 2018 picking up with Laurie Strode, the final girl played by the legendary Jamie Lee Curtis, forty years after Michael Myers killed her friends. Halloween Kills picks up the very same night that the 2018 Halloween left off. This same tactic was used for the original sequel. Laurie, her daughter Karen, and granddaughter Allison believe they’ve trapped Michael in the basement of Laurie’s house that’s now up in flames. What they don’t know is that he’s escaped. Word travels fast in Haddonfield that Michael Myers has returned all these years later and members of this town rally together hoping to stop him once and for all.
With this being the second part of the new trilogy that does also connect to the original 1978 film, you really can’t go into this one without having some knowledge of Laurie Strode and her forty-year fight with Michael Myers. Not only does this film pick up on the very same night in 2018, but the writing team have more to say about what all happened back in 1978.
Halloween Kills is less about Laurie and more about Haddonfield as a community. There’s a mob mentality with them in what they believe and how they respond is all based on trauma and fear. They latch on to what they think to be true leading to pure chaos and anarchy. There’s a scene that feels very reminiscent of the anger and violent actions during the January 6 insurrection and yet this was filmed long before that event occurred.
The 2018 film was violent like any slasher film would be but it felt reigned in matching the approach John Carpenter took with his film in 1978. David Gordon Green goes all out for Halloween Kills following “the rules of a sequel” as the body count is exponentially higher and the kills are gruesome, vicious, and much more brutal than you’d expect. It’s apparent that Michael Myers is full of rage and won’t be stopped. The violence isn’t all that different from any other slasher films, but it’s a stark contrast from what some have appreciated with the original Halloween.
There are interesting themes and concepts that resonate, but this film will only appeal to those who are already invested in the Halloween franchise or in scary movies. It ends on a big cliffhanger and a massive body count.
RATING: 3 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
THE LAST DUEL (in theaters)
The Last Duel is based on a true story from the medieval era in Paris 1386. Matt Damon’s character Jean de Carrouges is a self-assured knight not afraid of battle or claiming what he believes to be his. He loses out on a piece of land and believes his best friend and squire, Jacques de Gris, has something to do with it. His anger toward Jacques grows even stronger after his wife, Marguerite, claims she was raped by Jacques. Jean wanted Jacques to be held accountable. Their fate made its way from Count Pierre to King Charles VI who decided a trial by combat would settle the dispute between the two men.
The writing team of Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Nicole Holofcener have taken the book by Eric Jager and have told this sensitive narrative involving a violent rape through three different perspectives, Jean De Carrouges, Jacques de Gris, and ending on Marguerite’s. Each section is labeled “The Truth According to…” with the action varying slightly through each character’s perspective.
As we switch to Jacques and Marguerite’s truths, it becomes a fascinating character study in how we see ourselves versus how others see us giving Matt Damon and Adam Driver different shades to play with in their characters. It’s clear Ben Affleck is having a ball as Count Pierre. He dons bleached blonde hair and is loving the rich and lavish lifestyle that comes with a certain amount of power.
While the men are strong, The Last Duel rightfully belongs to Jodie Comer’s staggering performance as Marguerite that drives home what this story is saying. Her chapter was written by Nicole Hofocener which gives it that needed authenticity to tell Marguerite’s story accurately.
Ridley Scott never shies away from the brutal and relentless nature of what happens to Marguerite. Some may say it’s too far, but that’s the point. His visceral way of capturing the violent and aggressive act reminds the audience how little has changed since the late 1300s in how we view and believe women’s stories of sexual assault.
With questions regarding consent, the denial of charges, and the public trial, it’s not hard to be reminded of the dialogue and action that’s come out of the #MeToo era.
The trio of perspectives adds an eye-opening reality ending on the most powerful one. It should sit with you as Ridley Scott has made another strong film in his lengthy career.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS