Halloween Ends

In Halloween Kills (the previous entry in this series), Michael Myers escaped certain death when some unwitting firefighters rescued him from Laurie Strode’s burning home.  He then proceeded to lay waste to the entire firefighter squad without breaking a sweat.  While Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Deputy Frank (Will Patton) recovered from their injuries at the hospital, Michael made mincemeat out of a self-styled vigilante mob led by survivors of the original.  Last but not least, Michael shockingly killed Laurie’s daughter Karen (Judy Greer).  Ends picks up the story one year later.  Michael has not been seen since the prior year, and the town has shifted back towards normalcy.  (Sorry Haddonfield, IL, your town will never be “normal”.)

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Lyle, Lyle Crocodile

Lyle, Lyle Crocodile

What would you do if you stumbled upon a crocodile who could dance and sing? If you’re hapless magician Hector P. Valenti (Javier Bardem), you would make it the centerpiece of a song-and-dance act. Lyle definitely has the singing and dancing chops to be a star, but he suffers from paralyzing stage fright. Before you can say Michigan J. Frog, the act flops on opening night. Having used his home as collateral, Valenti goes on the road to pay off his debts, leaving Lyle a first generation iPod to keep himself company.

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See How They Run

In 1950s London, Angela Christie’s Mousetrap has just completed its one hundredth performance.  American director Leo Köpernick (Adrien Brody) is in town ostensibly to hash out a screenplay with Mervyn Cocker-Norris (David Oyelowo), but the two cannot agree on how to turn the stage production into a movie.  At the afterparty, Köpernick hits on the lead actress (Pearl Chanda), implying that she can get the lead role in his movie for…favors.  This naturally upsets her lead actor and husband (Harris Dickinson).  After a fight, Köpernick is attacked and killed backstage.  Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) and Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) are put on the case, and together they unravel just how many people had a reason to kill Köpernick.  It’s a classic whodunnit, but like Christie’s stories, the murderer may surprise you.

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Barbarian is a welcome new member of a group of horror movies that makes you think while it scares you.  This subset of the genre includes movies like Freaky, Get Out and It Follows and doesn’t have an official designation that I’m aware of. I collectively refer to them as “brainy horror”, which is lame, I know.  (Impale me on a spike if you must.)  Like those movies, Barbarian is first and foremost a top-notch horror movie, filled with scares and enough disturbing images to fuel nightmares.  It’s also incredibly devious in how it uses your familiarity with the genre to subvert your expectations at every turn.  Most importantly, it earns its place alongside the other noteworthy brainy horror movies by being a very entertaining film from beginning to end.

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