Cinemas & Home Entertainment this week…
GRIM PICKINGS this week includes key dates to dismember with a uniquely original slasher sequel opening in cinemas and a familiar yet throughly entertaining slasher hitting home entertainment!
Thursday February 14th
HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U
Returning writer/director Christopher Landon crafts a sequel to his 2017 breakout hit, HAPPY DEATH DAY, that takes a unique approach to following on from its predecessor. Rather than retread old ground, Landon expands the universe from the first film to a multiverse whereby the events of its previous chapter only exist in one version of reality. Confused? Well HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U is anything but confusing, in fact it takes the often difficult task of navigating the parallel universe theory and delivers a succinct slasher with comic flair, creative kills and a twist that you’ll no doubt see coming but remains rewarding regardless. While HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U never manages to better its predecessor, it does deliver a highly original concept and that alone is a bold achievement for a genre that is renowned for retreads. This time, our hero Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) discovers that dying over and over was surprisingly easier than the dangers that lie ahead.
ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL
Robert Rodriguez (SIN CITY, FROM DUSK TILL DAWN) helms this live action adaptation of popular manga, BATTLE ANGEL ALITA, produced by James ‘where the hell is AVATAR 2 and does anyone care anymore’ Cameron. ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL is an odd film as for all intensive purposes it shouldn’t work, a film dependent on a computer animated lead acting alongside real actors in a largely computer animated landscape in a cliche-riddled summarised version of a long-running comic book series, but somehow it does. Rodriguez gives a depth to the character of Alita (brilliantly portrayed/voiced by a performance captured Rosa Salazar) that makes her more human than human (or perhaps more human than cyborg) that is easy to both identify and empathise with. ALITA BATTLE ANGEL is a film of true spectacle with draw-dropping imagery and elaborate set pieces that maintains genuine emotion throughout, this is perfect popcorn entertainment for all. When Alita (Salazar) awakens with no memory of who she is in a future world she does not recognise, she is taken in by Ido (Christoph Waltz), a compassionate doctor who realizes that somewhere in this abandoned cyborg shell is the heart and soul of a young woman with an extraordinary past. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious history while her street-smart new friend Hugo (Keean Johnson) offers instead to help trigger her memories. But it is only when the deadly and corrupt forces that run the city come after Alita that she discovers a clue to her past – she has unique fighting abilities that those in power will stop at nothing to control. If she can stay out of their grasp, she could be the key to saving her friends, her family and the world she’s grown to love.
Wednesday February 13th
Similar to Adam Green’s original HATCHET, HELL FEST is a return to old school slashers with a high body count and creative kills, only this time around it’s delivered in a fast-paced and highly stylised manner. HELL FEST proved to be the sleeper hit of MONSTER FEST 2018 with few anticipating what they were going in for and leaving with one of the most talked about films of last year’s fest! A group of friends are bound for a horror-themed Halloween event at a local amusement park — a sprawling labyrinth of rides, games, and mazes that travels the country and happens to be in town. But for one visitor, the ghoulish carnival of nightmares is not the attraction — it is a hunting ground. On the night the friends attend, a masked serial killer turns the amusement park into his own playground, terrorizing attendees while the rest of the patrons believe that it is all part of the show. As the body count and frenzied excitement of the crowd continues to rise, who will fight to survive the night? Rialto Distribution’s release includes a 16 minute behind-the-scenes featurette!
Creative liberties aside, BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY is a moving, toe-tapping and immensely engaging work of pure escapism. An enthralling celebration of Queen, their music, and their extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury (Malek), who defied stereotypes and convention to become one of history’s most beloved entertainers. Following Queen’s meteoric rise, their revolutionary sound and Freddie’s solo career, the film also chronicles the band’s reunion, and one of the greatest performances in rock history.
Grim Pickings is written weekly by Jarret Gahan.