Tag Archives: horror movies

PEARL is a pandemic horror movie, but not how you might think

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Earlier this year, Ti West released his horror movie X, which was shot one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, just before the wide availability of vaccines, taking advantage of New Zealand’s rigorous quarantine standards and relatively contained virus. The movie, about a small crew attempting to shoot a porn movie on a secluded farm in 1979, is a recognizably pandemic-related production in its limited locations and modest cast size, but that’s ultimately just a behind-the-scenes tidbit—one of many COVID-era productions where the precautions and nerves are allowed to stay mostly offscreen. X has plenty else closer to front of mind, too, about the joys of low-budget filmmaking, the desperate drive of young flesh and corresponding frustrations of old age, and how society expects sexual desire to dwindle with time, especially in women. (It’s also, somehow, a wildly entertaining slasher picture.) There was no need to make it a pandemic movie, too. But it turns out, West and his star Mia Goth did actually make a pandemic movie out in New Zealand; they just didn’t tell anyone until X was all done.

Pearl, a prequel of sorts to X, offers an origin story for that movie’s principal killer (played by Goth in old-age makeup in the film, the better to double her with Maxine, the aspiring porn actress still in full command of her youthful heat). It doesn’t best X, but it certainly out-pandemics it: West and Goth co-wrote the movie quickly during their New Zealand arrival quarantine, preparing to take advantage of the X sets by placing Pearl largely on the same farm sixtysomething years earlier. Beyond that practicality, though, Pearl is a COVID movie in its soul, even if the movie doesn’t exactly come out and say it.
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LAST NIGHT IN SOHO and ANTLERS on the horror elevator

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Edgar Wright seems like he was born to make horror movie. In a sense, he already has, depending on your analysis of the horror-to-comedy-to-squishy-drama ratios in Shaun of the Dead (or your tolerance for the millennial antics of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; it’s my favorite Wright movie so far, but seems to be one of his more divisive works). Even in his non-zombie pictures, there are dark corners: The elaborate gore of Hot Fuzz, protruding into a spoof of a genre that doesn’t generally go that far (think of Timothy Dalton, spired through the jaw), or the ominous alien invasion (and existential dread) of The World’s End. Wright’s comedies are uncommonly perceptive about the psychology at the contemporary, and often very male, intersection between repression, dorkiness, and despair—without skimping on the geek-show flourishes that genre fans tend to love.

Last Night in Soho is not about men—at least not in its most literal sense. It’s the first Wright movie to assume a female point-of-view, then doubles and blurs that POV with dream logic. At first it’s about Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie), a withdrawn young woman who speaks in a slurry whisper, attending fashion college in London while daydreaming of the ‘60s culture and fashions she worships from decades later. With her obsessively rose-colored vision of past cultural peaks, she could fit right in on the couches of Wright’s nerd-layabout TV series Spaced, though she’d be the best-dressed character by a mile. Irritated by her snarky roommate Jocasta (Synnove Karlsen), Eloise vacates the dorms in favor of a flat upstairs from owner Ms. Collins (the late Diana Rigg). Living on her own for the first time, she plays her retro records loud and soaks in the flashing neon outside her window. But at night, she goes further, dreaming herself all the way back to the 1960s. In her realer-than-real dreams, she’s not exactly jumping into the body of Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), an aspiring singer who apparently once lived in Eloise’s flat; she’s more like a shadow, sometimes watching Sandie from a mirror-close vantage point, her empathy (or is it envy?) so intense that she sometimes feels as if she’s sharing Sandie’s experiences.
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HALLOWEEN KILLS is David Gordon Green’s movie, through and through

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Because the Halloween movies are part of a long-running horror franchise, it’s natural that a new entry like Halloween Kills will be received as part of that legacy—even as the movie intentionally picks and chooses what’s part of its continuity, what’s sneaky homage, and what’s brand-new. Halloween Kills is a follow-up to 2018’s Halloween, which itself is not a remake of the original 1978 Halloween, but a 40-years-later sequel that ignores the many other sequels (and the 2007 remake, and its sequel). The new sequel takes some cues from the “original” Halloween II, but it’s not a remake of that one, either; at times, it seems to be consciously rebuking some of that old sequel’s most famous elements.

To a lot of critics and fans, Kills reverts its 2018 predecessor into slasher-sequel mode: more (and gorier) killing, additional backstory (or is it retconning?), more vaguely supernatural power emanating from the unstoppable masked killer Michael Myers. And the film undeniably has all of those elements. But Halloween Kills is more interesting than it sounds, because it represents another left turn in the career of director/cowriter David Gordon Green.

Green also made the 2018 Halloween (and is about to make Halloween Ends, the final movie in this trilogy, slated for release next October). That was a left turn, too, in a filmography full of them. He started out doing soulful, Terrence Malick-esque Southern indies like George Washington and All the Real Girls; tried his hand at stoner comedy with the well-received Pineapple Express and the less-beloved Your Highness; did some movie-star-gone-indie portraiture like Joe and Manglehorn; made a couple of true-life dramas including Stronger; and then signed on for this Halloween trilogy. Green has made a rich and prolific career of baffling different factions of his potential supporters.
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