Film News – Christopher Landon Discusses Happy Death Day 2U

The success of horror sequels from a critical and financial perspective is far from guaranteed. Still, from what I can see, Happy Death Day 2U has done reasonably well. This film has already garnered $26.5 million at the box office on a $9 million budget and it has received generally positive reviews even if the consensus is that it is not as good as the original movie.

The director for both films in the Happy Death Day franchise is Christopher Landon and, in an interview with Collider, he spoke about Happy Death Day 2U.

Happy Death Day 2U

Here is what Christopher Landon had to say on how the creative processes for both Happy Death Day movies differed:

Yeah, the first one was such a long journey only because when I came onto the first movie I was just hired to rewrite it and there was another director attached at the time. Then that movie, you know, it just didn’t happen. It kind of fell apart and then the script sat around for a really long time.

We kept trying to find different ways to try and jump start it and get it going again. Everything kind of just started failing. Until I was able to bring it to Jason Blum which obviously sort of was the big sort of win for us. It just kind of felt like a long road even though once Jason had it everything moved fairly quickly.

But this time it was so fast but we all wanted this to happen quickly because there was a sense of urgency around it, because these movies are so interconnected, and so it was essential that we get this one out as quickly as possible so that the first movie was still relatively fresh in people’s minds because I think that it really enhances their experience in watching the second one.

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A Quiet Place (Film Review) – A Tense, Entertaining Ride

A Quiet Place is a horror film directed by John Krasinski and he stars alongside his wife, Emily Blunt, in the film. The story focuses on Krasinski and Blunt who play parents to three children. They have to live their lives in silence in order to survive and hide from creatures who exclusively hunt by sound.

My Expectation For A Quiet Place

I have mentioned before in my review of Get Out that horror is a genre of film that is not my favourite. I find no enjoyment in being scared and I do not willingly seek out these types of films to watch. Still, whenever a horror film such as A Quiet Place has been as lauded to the extent it has been by film critics, I feel obligated to see it.

Everything I had heard about this film was positive. It reminded me of how well Get Out was received last year and I have to admit that I was intrigued by A Quiet Place, especially when it came to John Krasinski who has been praised for the way he directed this film. If nothing else, I was in for a tense experience and I hoped I would be pleasantly surprised by A Quiet Place.

John Krasinski in A Quiet Place

My Thoughts On A Quiet Place

I enjoyed A Quiet Place. By no means is it one of the best films I have seen in 2018 but I had a good time with it. For me, the biggest strength of this film is its technical quality. More specifically, it is how its use of sound, or lack of it, creates real tension throughout. Certain moments in A Quiet Place were excruciating to watch in a very good way thanks to the way sound is used. As a result of the suspension and tension created by the way sound is used, you have no idea where the story is going to go next.

This makes the film compelling and it keeps you engaged despite the pacing which is not the quickest. However, the running time of A Quiet Place is perfect for a film with this kind of pacing so this was not a big issue. The performances in this film are also something to be admired. For everyone in the film, especially the child actors, to give very good performances when you consider how A Quiet Place is not dialogue-heavy is a difficult feat to pull off but it was achieved and it was impressive to see.

These individual performances also combine to create a family dynamic which I completely bought into. The main theme of this film is family and what you would do to protect the ones you love and this gives the film real emotional weight and stakes. I also liked the creature design in A Quiet Place and I thought that the way this film ends was absolutely brilliant. It is sudden and it leaves you wanting more which I loved and I can definitely see why a sequel is in the works.

John Krasinski and Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place

My Final Thoughts On A Quiet Place

Overall, from start to finish, A Quiet Place was a thrilling ride and I cannot wait to see what John Krasinski does next in his directorial career. Whether it is A Quiet Place 2 or an entirely new project, I will definitely see what he directs next thanks to how much I enjoyed this film. If you want a unique experience with a film, then I would urge you to see A Quiet Place when you have the time.

A Quiet Place Film Review Pin

Stranger Things Season 2 (Television Review) – Better Than Season 1

Undoubtedly, one of the most anticipated television shows of 2017 has been Season 2 of Stranger Things. The first season was a cultural phenomenon and, if you read my review of the first season earlier this year, you will know that I really liked it. A big reason why Season 1 was so good was because of the kids and the chemistry they had together and they were all back for Season 2.

Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) return for Season 2 in addition to Winona Ryder and David Harbour as Joyce Byers and Jim Hopper respectively. Noah Schnapp has a bigger role as Will Byers in Season 2 of Stranger Things and we have new characters such as Bob (Sean Astin), Max (Sadie Sink) and Billy (Dacre Montgomery) making their debuts too.

The story of Season 2 of Stranger Things is set one year after the events of the first season and the focus is on Will who is still recovering from his harrowing experience in the Upside Down. We find out that Will still has a connection to and is influenced by the Upside Down which leads to the characters finding out the shocking truth that a larger threat from the Upside Down exists; the Shadow Monster. In order to save Will, the Shadow Monster must be defeated.

Noah Schnapp as Will and the Shadow Monster/Mind Flayer in Stranger Things Season 2

My Knowledge and Expectation for Season 2 of Stranger Things

As I said above, I watched the first season of Stranger Things on Netflix and, after finishing what I thought was a very good season of television, I was intrigued to see where the story would go. Obviously, I had high expectations given how much the first season impressed me with its characters and world-building. I wanted more of the same in this regard but I also wanted this second season of Stranger Things to move away from its reliance on 80s nostalgia.

Clearly, a big reason why the first season of Stranger Things was so widely loved was because of its ability to pay homage to 80s pop culture. However, as I look back at the first season, I do feel as though its reliance on 80s nostalgia to pull people in meant that the story was never given the chance to be its own unique thing. I hoped that Season 2 of Stranger Things would find a better balance of paying homage to the 1980s while being its own story at the same time. Moreover, I still wanted the show to have that great blend of science-fiction and horror.

My Thoughts on Season 2 of Stranger Things

I have to say, there are not a lot of weak points in Season 2 of Stranger Things. This is a pretty flawless season of television that continues the greatness of the first season but it also improves on the first season due to the fact that Season 2 does not rely on 80s nostalgia. Obviously, it does pay homage to the 1980s through its brilliant synth score and music choices which included bands such as Metallica, The Police and Scorpions (a band that was also featured in GLOW).

Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven and Finn Wolfhard as Mike in Stranger Things Season 2

Season 2 of Stranger Things is also influenced by movies such as Aliens and Ghostbusters. However, it does not rely on these things to shape the story like Season 1 did. The story of Season 2 felt much more like its own thing. One of the brilliant aspects of Season 2 which cemented how special this season of Stranger Things felt was the arc of Will Byers and the brilliant performance Noah Schnapp gives as this character.

Will Byers

Truly, Noah Schnapp gives one of the best child performances I have ever seen. The levels that he goes to while playing Will is extraordinary and it pushes him right to the forefront when it comes to award recognition. Additionally, seeing Will struggle with what is essentially PTSD from his time in the Upside Down was very gripping and set the stage for what was quite a harrowing arc for his character.

Indeed, he becomes possessed by the Shadow Monster and the Shadow Monster is actually feeding off Will who is, in some sense, a host for this mythical creature. Some of the scenes in Season 2 of Stranger Things which showcase this are very disturbing and it proved how great an actor Noah Schnapp is for his age.

Noah Schnapp as Will in Stranger Things Season 2

This was particularly evident in the eighth episode of Season 2, titled ‘The Mind Flayer’, where the possession of Will by the Shadow Monster is at its peak. It made for some quite emotional scenes involving the people who love Will as they try to get through to him by recalling their most cherished memories of him. For me, this eclipsed any moment in Season 1 of Stranger Things.

It was also great to see Will spend more time with Dustin, Mike and Lucas and the chemistry between the kids is still fantastic and helps Stranger Things be as great as it is. Whether it was them turning up to school as the only ones dressed up for Halloween or obsessing over who beat the high score at Dig Dug, the moments they shared as a group were very funny. If Stranger Things is to have more success in the future, then these kids are vital in achieving this.

Hopper and Eleven

Additionally, it is easy to see how the whole cast feels like a family both on and off-screen. All the relationships in this show are very authentic and this is especially true for the relationship between Jim Hopper and Eleven. I did not expect these two to be together in Season 2 of Stranger Things. This made it quite a nice surprise when we found out in the first episode, titled ‘MADMAX’, that Eleven has been in hiding and Hopper is looking after her.

David Harbour as Hopper and Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven in Stranger Things Season 2

I loved the relationship they had. Obviously, it had a father/daughter vibe to it and, as Season 2 of Stranger Things progressed, you could tell how much Hopper cared for Eleven. This made complete sense given the tragedy which surrounded his own daughter and this affection he has for her was especially evident in ‘The Spy’ which was the sixth episode of Season 2.

It was also cool to get flashbacks of Eleven’s time on her own after she escaped the Upside Down and before Hopper found her. One of the funniest moments in Season 2 of Stranger Things happened in one of these flashbacks. Indeed, in the second episode, titled ‘Trick or Treat, Freak’, we see a squirrel being flown into a tree by Eleven (I know, it is a horrible thing to happen but it was so funny!).

The New Characters

Aside from the characters we know and love, I also thought the new characters that were introduced in Season 2 of Stranger Things were good. I liked Max (Sadie Sink) and her interactions with the group of kids. She added a bit of spunk to that group and to see Mike be really annoyed with having another girl around was interesting because it confirmed that he had still not got over Eleven.

Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin and Dart in Stranger Things Season 2

While the character of Billy was a complete prick, the performance that Dacre Montgomery gave as that character in Season 2 of Stranger Things was excellent. To see why Billy was as horrible as he was made me empathise with his situation but it did not take away from the fact that the way he treated Max and others was awful. I thought I hated Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) in Season 1 but Billy surpassed Steve in the douche-bag category.

Undoubtedly, my favourite new character was Bob, i.e. Bob the Brain. Bob was played by Sean Astin who is most famous for his role as Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Clearly, this would always influence my thinking that Bob was a legend. But, the matter of the fact is that he was a legend and his heroism and sacrifice in ‘The Mind Flayer’ was proof of this.

Dustin and Steve

In terms of the recurring characters, Dustin is still the MVP. I love this guy and his whole thing with Dart, the baby demo-dog, in Season 2 of Stranger Things was weird but cute at the same time even if Dart did kill a cat. However, it was his dynamic with Steve that was one of the best parts of Season 2 and it might have been the best relationship that was developed in this season of Stranger Things.

Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin and Joe Keery as Steve in Stranger Things Season 2

They had such a great rapport when they were together and, while I did not like Steve as a person in Season 1 of Stranger Things, he has grown on me because he has redeeming, likeable qualities. These qualities were most evident when he was with Dustin and the other kids. He is still a bit arrogant but he is getting better.

Eleven and Episode 7

While Dustin is probably my favourite character due to his personality and the humorous moments involving him (I mean, seeing Dustin theorise that the Shadow Monster was a Mind Flayer and explaining what that meant was priceless), Eleven is the character with the most depth. Her arc in Season 2 of Stranger Things proved that. We talked about the flashbacks we saw of Eleven surviving on her own in the woods which was cool. Yet, it was really the journey she took to find her mother once she knew of her existence which started this great arc.

I feel as though Eleven went through a lot of soul-searching in this season of Stranger Things and her experience when she met her mother showed this as well as what this meeting led to. Indeed, we find out that there is another girl like Eleven out there in the world and we saw her in the opening scene of this season of Stranger Things. Kali (Linnea Berthelsen) was the name of this girl and, like Eleven, she was a patient at the Hawkins Lab who escaped.

Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven in Stranger Things Season 2

Obviously, The Duffer Brothers, who are the show-runners of Stranger Things, felt that the stuff with Kali/Eight and Eleven’s journey to find her was very important because an entire episode was devoted to it. Yes, now we get to talk about the highly controversial Episode 7. Indeed, this episode has been very divisive for fans of Stranger Things and it is considered to be the weakest episode of Season 2 and the series in general.

For me, it is the weakest episode but I do not get how some people hate on this episode to the extent that they do. I still think that it is a very good episode. I really liked the punk vibe and I feel that the events of ‘The Lost Sister’ will have a lot of significance in future seasons of Stranger Things. In fact, I do feel as though this episode was establishing stories that we will see next season which is a reason why ‘The Lost Sister’ was the weakest episode of Season 2.

Linnea Berthelsen as Kali/Eight in Stranger Things Season 2

Having one episode which focused on Kali and Eleven killed the momentum that was being built with the main story-line back in Hawkins. I wish that the events of ‘The Lost Sister’ had been spread out across a few episodes of Season 2. It would have been better this way rather than just having one standalone episode. If it was blended into the other story-lines, I feel as though some fans of Stranger Things would have less of an issue with this aspect of Season 2.

Season 2 of Stranger Things Ends Well

Nevertheless, the events of ‘The Lost Sister’ led Eleven to the stage where she knew that she needed to help her friends who were in a desperate situation. We saw this situation in the last two episodes of Season 2 which were fantastic. One could argue that ‘The Mind Flayer’ and ‘The Gate’ are the best ever episodes of Stranger Things. The final two episodes were tense, dramatic (Poor Bob) and they were great pay-off for the story in Season 2.

Moreover, it solidified my belief that Season 2 of Stranger Things is better than Season 1. Even the weakest elements of Season 2 were still very good and this season built upon the greatness of Season 1 while improving on the weakest point of Season 1 which was its over-reliance on 80s nostalgia.

Still, even though the end of Season 2 is a shot of the Mind Flayer looming over our characters, I do wonder how The Duffer Brothers will be able to pull-off a third season of Stranger Things. Perhaps moving away from Hawkins will benefit the show. That is why I believe Episode 7 is important in addition to the story that involved Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) and Nancy (Natalia Dyer).

Natalia Dyer as Nancy and Charlie Heaton as Jonathan in Stranger Things Season 2

The purpose of the mission they embarked on was to expose the government cover-up of the events of Season 1 (Justice for Barb lives on!). I believe that the success they had in doing this will have ramifications which will be explored more in Season 3. Despite my concerns about how Season 3 will be executed, I am defiant in my belief that Season 2 was a brilliant season of Stranger Things. While I do not expect Season 3 to be better than Season 2, I hope that Stranger Things continues to be great television to watch and an event which we all look forward to.

Alien: Covenant (Film Review) – Flawed but Good

Alien: Covenant is a science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott and stars Katherine WaterstonBilly CrudupDanny McBride and Michael Fassbender. This film serves as a sequel to Prometheus and as a prequel to Alien. It is the sixth instalment in the Alien franchise. The story follows the crew of the Covenant in the year 2104 who are embarking on a colonising expedition to Origae-6. Yet, they find a different planet which seems ripe for colonisation. However, they find David (Michael Fassbender), the android from Prometheus, who is the sole inhabitant of a world which is not the uncharted paradise the crew hoped it would be.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Alien: Covenant

I would be lying if I said that I was expecting Alien: Covenant to be good. Honestly, Prometheus was a huge disappoint for me and, even after The Martian, I did not have confidence in Ridley Scott to recapture the quality of Alien. As I said in my review of Get Out, horror is not my favourite genre of film but I make exceptions. Alien and Aliens are exceptions. These are two films which I hold in high regard.

Xenomorph in Alien: Covenant

Yet, they are the only films that I like in this franchise. I do not like Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection is terrible and Prometheus was a very underwhelming film which did not feel like it belonged in the franchise. Consequently, I had no idea what to expect from Alien: Covenant. Still, I wanted to see what this film would be like and, at the very least, I expected some good performances from the likes of Michael Fassbender and Billy Crudup who are very talented actors.

My Thoughts on Alien: Covenant

Alien: Covenant has its flaws but, overall, it is a good film and a considerable improvement over Prometheus. One of the elements of the film that worked for me was the ensemble cast. All of them give good performances with Michael Fassbender probably standing out the most. This was simply because he played two different characters in David and Walter. He excelled in both roles though Katherine Waterston and Danny McBride were good too.

Michael Fassbender as David in Alien: Covenant

The cinematography in Alien: Covenant was stunning. Indeed, every Ridley Scott film is beautiful to look at and he continues that trait in this film. Yet, the thing that impressed me most in the way Scott directed and shot this film was the fact that Alien: Covenant has a gritty feel. This was something that Prometheus lacked. That film felt too clean and pristine but Ridley Scott remedies this in Alien: Covenant. The aesthetic felt more like Alien and Aliens and it was little things such as the lighting and the characters sweating which helped the film succeed in this regard.

The Flaws of Alien: Covenant

Still, why Alien: Covenant succeeds on some levels, it fails on others. It has flaws. For instance, this film has severe pacing issues. The first act was unnecessarily slow while the final 10-15 minutes felt too fast. Indeed, the last moments of the film were an homage to Alien. However, Alien was patient and suspenseful. The homage to this film in Alien: Covenant felt rushed and, to be honest, a bit convenient and easy. Alien was neither of these things.

Engineer Ship in Alien: Covenant

Alien: Covenant also feels like two films meshed together and the blend is not smooth. Obviously, the film is designed to be a bridge between Prometheus and Alien but it could have done a better job at being this. Additionally, some of the dialogue in the film is a bit stiff and the ending is very predictable. Despite this, I want to see more after seeing this film which is more than I could say after I watched Prometheus. Alien: Covenant does not reach the same levels as Alien or Aliens but there are enough things in the film to make it good, worth your time and one of the better entries in this franchise.

Get Out (Film Review) – A Solid Directorial Debut

Get Out is a horror film written, produced and directed by Jordan Peele and stars Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Catherine Keener, Lil Rel Howery and Daniel Kaluuya. Jordan Peele makes his directorial debut with this film and the story focuses on Chris (Kaluuya) and Rose (Williams), an interracial couple who visit the secluded estate of Rose’s parents. Chris soon finds out that things are not as they seem and the weekend takes a very dark turn.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Get Out

I am usually very open-minded about my genres of film but if there is one genre that I am not a massive fan of, it is horror. Horror is a genre of film that I have not delved deep in to, simply because I do not like scary films as they stress me out to a point that is not at all enjoyable.

LaKeith Stanfield in Get Out

There are exceptions to this rule as I like horror films such as Alien but generally, I avoid horror. Despite this, Get Out intrigued due to the critical acclaim it has received and I was curious to see what Jordan Peele, famous for the sketch series Key and Peele, could do on his directorial debut.

My Thoughts on Get Out

My overall experience with Get Out was pretty good. I found the film to be less of a traditional horror film and more of a thriller with comedic elements. Certainly, suspense is a key tool used by Peele to tell his story and it makes the film engaging without relying too heavily on horror clichés. While there are jump scares, they did not worsen my experience.

The star of Get Out is undoubtedly Jordan Peele. I was really impressed by how much of an accomplished job he did for his directorial debut. In addition to his ability to use suspense very well, I also liked how he shot the film and how he addresses issues such as the various levels of racism prevalent in society today in a very satirical manner. Indeed, there are a lot of amusing moments in the film, most of them coming from Rod (Howery) who was my favourite character in Get Out.

Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams in Get Out

These comedic moments were needed in a film which is quite tense throughout and also slowly paced. Because of the slow pacing of Get Out, it is not something that I will be eager to revisit. Still, I would definitely recommend that you watch it as it will evoke some sort of reaction out of you and I feel as though your experience of watching Get Out will stay with you for a while.

Stranger Things Season 1 (Television Review) – A Fantastic Homage to the 80s

Stranger Things is a science fiction horror television show created, written and directed by the Duffer Brothers. It stars Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer and Charlie Heaton. This debut season was released last summer on Netflix and the story focuses on the disappearance of a young boy and a mysterious government agency covering up this disappearance in addition to a sinister, supernatural threat.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Season 1 of Stranger Things

This TV show was a phenomenon when it was released last summer and was widely praised for its writing, acting, visuals and its ability to recapture the 1980s and pay homage to it. The things that I were really excited about going into watching Stranger Things were its nostalgic nods to the 80s as well as the dynamic between the kids in the show. Indeed, they were regarded as giving fantastic performances for their age which, combined with all the great things I had heard about this show from critics and friends, meant that I had high hopes going into Stranger Things.

Winona Ryder in Season 1 of Stranger Things Netflix

My Thoughts on Season 1 of Stranger Things

I found this first season of Stranger Things to be fantastic. One of the reasons why I liked the show as much as I did was because, at the core of the show, there is an intriguing, well-paced story which is very atmospheric and tense. Certainly, there are a lot of horror elements in this show and I do get scared quite easily which meant that I was on the edge of my seat for a good deal of the show. Still, there are a moments of light relief which help Stranger Things find balance and a lot of the comedic relief comes from the kids who are brilliant.

Truly, good child acting is a very tricky thing to pull-off as a child in any acting role can come across as very cringe-worthy and annoying very quickly (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is a good example of this). Stranger Things achieves the remarkable feat of establishing a great dynamic between a very young cast of kids and making them really likeable in the process. They were all great but my favourite character of the kids was Dustin, played by Gaten Matarazzo, as he provided some of the sharpest and humorous lines of dialogue.

Gaten Matarazzo and Millie Bobby Brown in Season 1 of Stranger Things Netflix

Performances and Nostalgia

Additionally, Millie Bobby Brown gave a really nuanced performance as Eleven. On the adult side of things, David Harbour gave a great performance as Jim Hopper whose character, for me, had the most depth due to his tragic past. If one character annoyed me it was probably Nancy Wheeler because of her self-centred attitude (typical teenager) but even her character arc made up for that in the end.

As you can see, Stranger Things has a lot of great qualities, the biggest of which was its ability to make me feel nostalgic for the 1980s even though I was not born in that decade. Clearly, this show was designed to be an homage to 1980s pop culture and this is evident in the way it is shot, the opening title credits as well as its nods to the works of Steven Spielberg, Stephen King and George Lucas among many others. It does a really good job of paying respect to the 1980s while being its own unique show at the same time.

Monster in Season 1 of Stranger Things Netflix

Additionally, Stranger Things has a great blend of horror, sci-fi and coming-of-age which ultimately means that this is a show which I highly recommend as there is something for everyone to get enjoyment out of. An atmospheric story, likeable and deep characters along with its ability to make us nostalgic for 1980s pop culture make this one of the strongest debut seasons of television I have seen for a while and, with the second season scheduled for release in July 2017, it seems like Stranger Things will go from strength to strength.