Double Feature: Halloween (2018) & Guns Akimbo (2019)

After taking 2 days off to regroup, we’re back with the first double feature of 2021. Its still the remaining movies not reviewed from last year’s viewing. This time, its a look at 2018’s sequel of Halloween paired with 2019’s Guns Akimbo. Let’s check it out!

Halloween (2018)

Director: David Gordon Green

Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Haluk Bilginer, Will Patton, Rhian Rees, Jefferson Hall

Laurie Strode confronts her long-time foe Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago. – IMDB

The 11th movie of the Halloween franchise which has changed directors and had multiple versions of what its meant to be to finally get back to one that is set with Laurie Strode as a grandmother and mother who has grown estranged from her family because of her precautions towards Michael Myers and her past that has convinced her that as long as he is alive, it will never be safe however also having the means to fight back when needed.

Having a little drama and a story that catches up and brings the story back to the original 1978 storyline with Jamie Lee Curtis, Halloween brings it all back with a Michael Myers and Laurie Strode 40 years after the incident and Myers still going to find her. As the story looks at Laurie Strode’s family situation and the current situation of Michael Myers, it also focuses on crime podcasters that end up triggering some part of Myers that causes him to go rogue.

At this point, Halloween seems to really be for the fans that have stuck around since the beginning, enduring its many sequels along with all the randomness and nonsensical story directions. Halloween 2018 is a great attempt at reviving the series especially as its a solid story as a whole. Sure, the story focuses on the family drama between Laurie Strode and her daughter, played by Judy Greer who faults her mother for giving her a traumatic childhood full of defense lessons and harsh upbringing perhaps of what she feels is paranoia and yet, that part did become a little nonsensical and frustrating in its own regards. What does make up for it is in the second half when the danger is undeniable and how the family will face it.

Michael Myers is a fantastic horror icon. One that truly shows the inhuman side of a monster that makes for a talk about whether he is human considering he seems to be indestructible. 2018’s Halloween brings all that back to perspective. No more reasons of why he does it or adding in unnecessary side story and just executing it as a slasher, one that gives once the victim a chance to fight back. Its not exactly scary or horrific as a movie but its still a thrilling and fun movie.

Guns Akimbo (2019)

Director (and writer): Jason Lei Howden

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Samara Weaving, Ned Dennehy, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Grant Bowler, Edwin Wright, Milo Cawthorne

A guy relies on his newly-acquired gladiator skills to save his ex-girlfriend from kidnappers. – IMDB

Guns Akimbo feels very similar to other movies in its own realm like Nerve or even Ready Player One. Movies with worlds rooted in a live game with rather extreme results. Its over the top and ridiculous. And yet, Guns Akimbo has this satisfying feeling to the adrenaline rush and its one that puts this main character, Miles who is a nobody at work find some empowerment by being a troll online, you know, the current day keyboard warrior that anyone with any presence online dislikes. He messes with the wrong people and they make his life hell by attaching guns to his hands and sending him on a deadly mission. With that said, it is ridiculous as a whole and there are movies in the same realm that definitely does a better job in terms of creativity and pacing, making this one probably a fairly forgettable experience looking back at it right now.

However, Guns Akimbo has a few things going for it. It has this not so serious tone. The characters seem to all just enjoy doing their over the top thing. Daniel Radcliffe is pretty fun to watch and probably one of the much more entertaining roles that he’s been in post-Harry Potter, but I could be wrong since I haven’t been really keeping track (side note: if you do have other movies to recommend of his, let me know in the comments below). The biggest motivation has to be watching Samara Weaving taking on another one of these over the top adrenaline rush movies and making it her own by creating yet another similar character but still unique in her own way. Its always a joy to watch her take on these characters and embody the character so well.

Thing is, Guns Akimbo has a lot of action and yet somehow, there seems to be a lot of time without action as well. There is this imbalance in execution of the movie as a whole. Its a little confusing on whether its trying to be more than just a mindless high octane movie. In some ways, the humor at the beginning goes to this character Miles getting extreme consequences for being an internet troll and then ends up having to run away, which is a great premise with tons of potential and the bickering between Miles and Nix also becomes quite a highlight moment. The story does lose itself a little on what its trying to achieve. Sure, this isn’t a movie meant for analysis and yet, I can’t help but feel while I was watching it that it doesn’t quite hit that extremity or high octane that it should have.

Overall, Guns Akimbo is very much like watching a video game come to life. Its fairly action-packed and Daniel Radcliffe and Samara Weaving are fantastic in this. The tone and execution is a little imbalanced with what it wants to deliver and what it actually delivers perhaps. However, as a mindless entertainment sort of deal, it feels fun enough. There are definitely other similar movies that do a better job but there are still some worthwhile elements.

Valentine’s Marathon: What If (original title: The F Word, 2013)

And we are finally here! The first random movie to kick off the Valentine’s Marathon is a romantic comedy. I have honestly taken a huge break from these the last few years mostly because a lot of them didn’t seem that appealing. However, Daniel Radcliffe post-Harry Potter phase and the lovely Zoe Kazan sounds like a fun time. So here we are!

Lets check it out!

What If (aka The F Word) (2013)

Director: Michael Dowse

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan , Adam Driver, Megan Park, MacKenzie Davis, Rafe Spall

Wallace, who is burned out from a string of failed relationships, forms an instant bond with Chantry, who lives with her longtime boyfriend. Together, they puzzle out what it means if your best friend is also the love of your life. –IMDB

What If is adapted from a play called Toothpastes and  Cigars. Honestly, I’ve never heard of the original source material so obviously, I have nothing to compare to. With that said, the original title of The F Word seems to be more fitting for this story because we do spend a lot of time with Chantry and Wallace as really good friends. But then, I guess What If works on the level like the all time question, “What If  *insert good friend’s name* was my boyfriend or girlfriend?”  The story itself being a romantic comedy and all, is somewhat familiar and if you are looking for some breakthrough unpredictable story, then you probably aren’t looking for that. However, if you are like myself who enjoys a fun little romantic comedy, What If does deliver on it because of its fun and sharp dialogue between the characters which brings me back to something like why I love Gilmore Girls so much along with a lovely chemistry between the two main characters. There are some annoying parts in What If and we’ll talk about that as well. Plus, the setting is in Toronto. I love Toronto and go visit it at least once each year and always have a great time so let’s say I’m slightly biased as well.

what if 2013

With that said, the setting being as charming as it is, the true bright light of What If is its two main characters. Zoe Kazan has caught my eye since I saw her in In Your Eyes (Review) which is probably one of my favorite movies that I watch at least once a year. She’s very natural in her roles and in this one as Chantry, she’s incredibly charming and silly to watch. Its easy to fall in love with her character. Opposite her is Daniel Radcliffe who plays Wallace. I’m going to admit that post Harry-Potter Daniel Radcliffe, there’s only been one film that I saw and that’s The Woman in Black (review). The fact that I’m a decent fan of Harry Potter even if the movie adaptations at times did fall short from the novels themselves, it really is hard to break away that image. However, something about him playing Wallace seems to work quite well here. Maybe its the weirdness he has or just having the right person to act with. Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan bring Wallace and Chantry to life especially when paired up with their fun dialogue back and forth with random responses that truly are quite amusing. Most romantic comedies start off with characters that loathe each other and then see another side and then realize they fell in love with each other (most rom com scenarios, there are exceptions, I know), but this one builds them up as really good friends first and I think that is much more realistic.

What If 2013

Adam Driver, aka all you Star Wars fans’ Kylo Ren, was in What If as one of his roles. Putting Star Wars aside and whether you think he’s adequate as Kylo Ren, he plays Allan, the cousin of Chantry and something like a good friend of Wallace. He gives some good and bad advice and has this somewhat of a sleazy goofball sort of expert thing going on here as Wallace is more of a closed and introvert guy who needs a bit of guidance due to his many failed relationships in the past. While some parts worked, I wasn’t a huge fan of the character here. A few of the things felt so over the top that it seemed to break out from the friendship/relationship between Chantry and Wallace that felt quite believable and grounded. I know that a lot of the character of Allan and his girlfriend, Nicole (played by Mackenzie Davis) was meant to be funny however, it felt much less sophisticated that seemed to throw off the balance a little. Like I always say, humor is subjective.

With that said, What If is one of those romantic comedies that I really did enjoy. Zoe Kazan and Daniel Radcliffe really give some great performances that cancel out the negative things I felt about the film. A pleasant surprise is always a great way to start a marathon.

The Woman in Black (2012)

If you were following my blog when I was doing the Halloween month, you would know that I had to take all the courage out of me to sit through the last part of intense horror movies which resulted in maybe 2 weeks of sleepless nights.  If you weren’t, don’t feel left out, you can hope over HERE to check out the list of what I watched in the three parts.  However, I have learned a lot about myself and horror movies and a few years back before that stupid incident watching The Haunting of Connecticut which literally haunted me since then into not ever being able to watch a horror movie, I am capable to do it so I’ve been trying hard to get back into it.

After a crazy few days catching up and watching and reviewing a whole bunch of rom-coms and romantic dramas, yesterday on Valentine’s Day I decided to give into my boyfriend’s ultimate love and watch a horror movie, the one named up in the title –The Woman in Black.  Take a guess as to how last night went for me…Oh right, with that said, remember that I’m mega easily scared so if you’re a hardcore horror fan, you definitely won’t feel the same level of fright.

the woman in black

Director: James Watkins

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Liz White,Janet McTeer
A lawyer Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is given one last chance to prove his worth in his office and sent to take care of an outstanding account of checking and getting Eel Marsh House ready for sale after the recently deceased Mrs. Drablow.  On the train he meets, Sam Daily (Ciaran Hinds) who offers to take him to his hotel in Cryphin Gifford. He starts feeling that he is unwelcome and even the man that was supposed to help him with the paperwork for Eel Marsh House arranged to sent him back.  However, he decided to go to take care of it himself.  As the house is surrounded by marshlands, it is restricted to certain times where he could not get back onto the mainland until the tide recedes.  On his first visit to the house, he sees a strange woman in black lurking in the woods nearby.  However, the mysterious woman disappears from his view.  When he gets back into town, he learns that the children in this town has been dying off in weird ways.  He also comes to know that one of the children lost is Mr. Daily’s son, Nicholas.  As a result, Mrs. Daily (Janet McTeer) has been unstable mentally, and at times, she seems to believe that she is possessed by the spirit of her son.  He soon learns that he is unwelcome because whoever sees the woman in black will cause a death of at least one child in the town.  Mr. Daily disregards the superstitions and agrees to help Arthur to get to Eel Marsh House against the others wishes.  It is there Arthur finds papers from a woman called Jennet (Liz White) to Mrs. Drablow, accusing her of the murder of her son and sending her off to a mental institution.  The night Arthur spends in the house turns out to be more than he expected: a vengeful ghost and the secrets that the manor held.

woman in black

As I’m writing that summary up there, I was turning around and feeling my heart rate go up. Technically, I have to say, my boyfriend should be doing the review.  I spent probably the second half of the movie with my hand covering a part of my face or looking partially at the screen when I needed my hands to cover my eyes.  You know those sudden scares that we call cheap scares, right? They showed up a lot.  And I seriously get creeped out when its about 1) ghosts 2) children and this flick had both. To me, this was a really good horror movie.  My boyfriend was startled a few times also.  This one was definitely creepy and if you’ve seen this, I’m saying right now…that ending is just a creepy good way. My guess is that if you are horror fan, you might still get some enjoyment out of this but this movie is a bit predictable.  But since I’m easily scared, even when I predict something to happen, I’ll still not exactly know how its executed so it still scares me, but I still managed to know when the director tried to startle the audience.

woman in black arthur

Now that we’ve acknowledge this horror flick achieved its scare factor on me, I’m going straight out to say that Daniel Radcliffe’s first movie after Harry Potter is quite good.  They gave him a good story.  I always have this issue with how certain actors always jump out of a franchise and get these horror movie scripts and half the time, its some retarded flick (and thats coming from me, the ultimate easily scared audience).  This one was really good in that level.  He did great as a mature lawyer, a father of a little boy and at the same time a mourning widower.  Its a big change from Harry Potter is all I’m saying.  Plus, the people in this town and the child actors blew me away.  They all did such a great job at securing the creepy, weird, eerie vibe of a town thats gone through a lot of tragedy and death.  As much as there were times with other people, Daniel Radcliffe did carry a good portion of this movie by himself in the haunted manor.  I do look forward to what else he has to offer after this.

woman in black children

I need to stop the writing this review because I’m getting all creeped out thinking of the movie.  A good horror movie with cheap scares and eerie atmosphere that does what it sets out to do.  You bet that I won’t be picking up this movie (or any other horror ghost related  flick) in a while.  I do recommend this.  I do know some people probably won’t get a lot of scares out of this but, its a decent movie.

What type of horror movies usually creep you out: ghosts/spirits, zombies, slasher, possession, etc?