The Movie Guru: New movies that offer a taste of the Halloween spirit
If you like your Halloween season covered in a ton of gore, then “Halloween Kills” is the movie for you. Though the movie is unfortunately far less focused than 2018’s excellent “Halloween,” the body count climbs dramatically as Myers kills his way through a swath of Haddonfield. The movie’s scope increases as well, trying to explore the impact of Michael’s crimes on the town he’s menaced for so long. Though the movie tangles with some interesting ideas, it tries to do too much and as a result doesn’t properly focus on any of it. The blood, though, it manages spectacularly, with several nice headshots and a particularly chilling hunt through a nearby park. Jamie Lee Curtis is also fantastic every moment she’s onscreen, as is Judy Greer as her daughter. It’s far from perfect, but it’s almost two hours of mayhem that will get you ready for 2022’s “Halloween Ends.”
It’s a kid’s movie, you think. Surely it can’t be that scary. But it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes into the Netflix original movie “Nightbooks” before you remember that kids’ nightmares can sometimes be scarier than adults’. A modern spin on “Hansel and Gretel,” the movie follows a boy (Winslow Fegley) who gets trapped by a witch and has to tell her stories or risk getting killed every night. The stories he tells are almost sweet, and there’s a wonderful friendship with another girl who doesn’t want to care about anyone (Lidya Jewett). But their imprisonment is claustrophobic, feeling far more like a real kidnapping than a candy-coated fairy tale, and the sense of menace that pervades almost every moment onscreen will get under your skin. Krysten Ritter is exactly the right kind of cartoonish as the witch in question, exactly the sort of nightmare designed to lure in children, and the third act twist fits beautifully even if you don’t see it coming.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage (in theaters)
Though there’s definitely a monster factor, and a serial killer, this is in some ways the lightest of the three movies. “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is more of a morbid buddy comedy than it is a monster movie, and if you’re in the right mood it’s exactly the right kind of ridiculous fun. While Woody Harrelson does everything he can to be creepy, the movie is actually much more about the stresses of sharing your body with a brain-eating alien who’s better at your job than you are. Tom Hardy is a mess in the best possible way, both as Eddie Brock and Venom, and watching them fight (and occasionally defeat evil) is adorable in a slightly messed-up, Halloween-tinged way. It’s far from a perfect movie, but if you don’t mind the occasional head removal it’s an entertaining way to spend an evening.
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.