Doctor Sleep and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Mike Flanagan
Now that we’re a good few years into the Stephen King revival that was kicked off by IT (actually Stranger Things if we’re being honest) it was about time we start calling back to OTHER Stephen King adaptations, and not just that brief shot of the original Pennywise in IT or the numerous random callbacks in The Dark Tower. This is a sequel not only to Stephen King’s original Shining novel, but is the sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation, so describing the making of this movie as Quixotic is not that much of a stretch. Then again, there’s no reason not to swing for the fences if you’ve got the chance, and the director has proven time and time again with films like Gerald’s Game and Ouija: Origin of Evil that he’s capable of making very good horror films, so perhaps the untouchable triumph that was The Shining is not so out of reach after all! Is this a worthy sequel to the original film and a great movie in its own right? Let’s find out!!
Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) has had a rough time of it since he and his mother managed to escape from the Overlook Hotel where his dad tried to murder the two of them before dying in the snow. It seems that he took after his father in the second worst way possible as he may not be an axe murderer, but he is an alcoholic who’s using his addiction to avoid dealing with his own problems as well as the powers that seem to have done nothing but cause him trouble as the ghosts from the Overlook Hotel try to haunt him to this day. He manages to find a bit of stability though in the town of True Knot where he meets a friend named Billy (Cliff Curtis), manages to give up the booze, and even gets a job as an orderly in a hospice care facility where he uses his power to sooth those who are about to die with those gifts that have given him nothing but heartache for the past thirty years. He also seems to have made a connection with another psychic user as they communicate with each other anonymously, but circumstances are about to change that will force them to finally meet one another. It turns out that there is a cult of other psychic users who have found out that eating the souls of psychically powerful people will give them everlasting life and so they roam the country looking for people to eat (mostly children as they are the most potent) and are ostensibly led by Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) who’s powers are among the strongest out there. Our mysterious pen pal to Dan whose a young girl named Abra (Kyliegh Curran) catches psychic wind of these monsters as they feast upon a child, and Rose the Hat catches a glimpse of her as well, so now that both parties know of the other’s existence there will surely be some serious X-Men like conflict coming soon and Abra could use all the help she can get to bring these fiends to justice. Will Dan be willing to help his friend Abra with her little problem of cannibal psychics trying to hunt her down? Who exactly are these murderous psychics, and why is one of them wearing such a distinctive hat? Will they find an excuse for going back to the Outlook Hotel so they can sell this movie on Shining nostalgia? Well of course they will, but will it be a GOOD excuse!?
IT Chapter 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Andy Muschietti
Alright, so we’re all in agreement that the first film was amazing, right? I mean it had a few issues here and there, but dang it if Chapter One wasn’t a horror masterpiece with great performances, a terrifying villain, and the brilliant idea of taking the GOOD parts of a Stephen King book and leaving out all the stuff that doesn’t work. Heck, I’m pretty sure the last time that happened was when Kubrick made The Shining which Stephen King really doesn’t like for some reason. Now we’ve got the sequel which has the neigh impossible task of capturing lightening in a bottle twice; especially since most of what made the first one so memorable will necessarily have to be either absent or pushed to the side. Can the filmmakers pull off the impossible by making the notoriously unworkable ending to the book into something not just comprehensible but just as good as the film that came before it? Let’s find out!!
The movie picks up twenty seven years after the events of the first film where the mysterious murders in Derry have started up once again and Michael (Isaiah Mustafa) as the only member of the Losers Club left in town has to bring the gang back together to fight the evil Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) once again. Bill, Richie, Beverly, Ben, Eddie, and Stanley (James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Jessica Chastain, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, and Andy Bean) have all gone their separate ways and can’t even seem to remember their time in Derry or the monster they fought all those years ago, but after a phone call from Mike they all start to remember (some take the news harder than others) and travel back home to take care of what IT is once and for all. In the process they will have to confront their pasts, face their fears, and do all sorts of weird stuff in the vein attempt of trying to destroy a monster that has lived for hundreds of years while they’re a bunch of middle aged writers, comedians, and risk analysists, who might be able to throw a punch but not much else. Can the monster known alternatively as IT, Pennywise, and WHAT THE HECK IS THAT THING!? be defeated by these friends brought together once again by the pact they made long ago? What is the clown planning for them as revenge for the defeat that he suffered back in the eighties? Maybe he can defeat them by trying to explain the ending of the book and just wait until their brains explode.
Pet Sematary and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer
I don’t know about this one. I mean I liked the original Pet Sematary and Stephen King adaptations in general, but the trailers are just not doing it for me. For the most part I think I’m turned off by JUST how big of a tonal shift it is from a bright and colorful yet creepy tale of magic and grief into something that looks to be aping Hereditary which is doubly worrying considering the ONE BIG similarity between the two. I have a certain limit when it comes to horror (mainly when you replace creepiness and suspense with misery and suffering), and I am not prepared to see a beloved classic from the eighties go down that same route just to chase a trend. Still, even if the LOOK of the thing may be drastically different there’s still the original story which is quite well thought of for a reason, and I could just be looking at the original through rose tinted glasses. I remember the movie in the broad strokes, but a lot of the nuance for me has been lost to time (it’s had to of been a decade at least since I saw it) and perhaps this one will do a great job of recreating all that I’ve forgotten about the original! Wishful thinking perhaps, but there’s only one way to find out!!
The Creed family has just moved to a little out of the way country town in the middle of Maine (because nothing spooky ever happens THERE!) so that the father Louis (Jason Clarke) could take a less demanding job at a University hospital which will allow him to spend more time with his kids Ellie and Gage (Jeté Laurence and Hugo Lavoie/Lucas Lavoie) as well as his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) who’s already getting some bad vibes from this place right off the bat. Eh, maybe it’s just nerves from her TRAGIC BACKSTORY that I’m sure will come into play later in the movie! Anyway, Ellie learns about a place in the woods behind their house called the Pet Sematary where children (who don’t know how to spell) bury their dead pets in some sort of local ritual. This is all well-known and expanded upon by the Creed family’s neighbor Jud (John Lithgow) who’s lived here all his life and may know even more about this place than he’s letting on. Now as the family seems to finally be settling in, tragedy strikes as Ellie’s cat Churchill is hit by a truck on the road RIGHT outside the house (SEEMS A LITTLE BIT DANGEROUS IF YOU ASK ME!) and now Louis has to break the bad news to her which is not going to be pleasant, but Jud has an idea on maybe fixing this problem which may be more than just him being neighborly. What kind secrets does this little town have that Jud can show Louis, and what will it end up costing the both of them in the process? Will Louis be able to live with the knowledge that Jed is about to reveal, and what will happen in his own life to temp him to abuse this mysterious power? Seriously, is that cat gonna get its own spinoff!? The filmmakers are just in LOVE with that thing!
IT and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Andy Muschietti
MAN this one takes me back! I still have my grandfather’s copy of the book that I read in middle school; torn to shreds naturally considering how much I carried it around. I’ve read a few Stephen King books here and there and I tend to like his style overall, but his movies are some of the most hit and miss films you could imagine; ranging from critically acclaimed masterpieces like The Shining to garbage you’ve never even heard of like Riding the Bullet. IT is one of the weird ones as its one of the most definitive King books out there (not just in popularity but in terms of content as well) but it’s honestly… a little bit… weak. Not saying it’s BAD, but there’ just SO much going on in there that it feels like several novels fighting for control of the narrative. Heck, if The Dark Tower didn’t LITERALLY do this, I’d say it’s almost akin to mashup of everything King had done up to that point only without a single shred of restraint to keep the whole thing manageable; hence why the damn thing is so thick you could beat a man to death with it. Still, we already got one adaptation of this story that everyone seems to like which means that someone EVENTUALLY had to take another crack at it for BRAND NAME RECOGNITION, but they at least had the foresight to make it a hard R movie instead of a PG-13 which works for SOME movies, but not for a story like IT. Will this be the new standard for Stephen King adaptations, or will this be like The Dark Tower where I’m the only one out there who actually enjoyed it? Let’s find out!!
The story of IT is set in the town of Derry (zero points if you can guess what state it’s in) where there’s been an unusual uptick in missing kid reports which has most of the town on edge; especially the kids themselves who fear they’ll be next. We know what’s up though! The first thing we see in the movie is little Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) falling victim to the supernatural menace that has been picking off kids left and right while taking the form of a really creepy looking clown known simply as Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård). Everyone believes little Georgie to be dead, but his brother Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) is convinced that he’s still out there and plans to find him by any means possible; including going into the spooky sewers that may be full of waste but could ALSO be full of answers! His friends Richie, Stan, and Eddie (Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, and Jack Dylan Grazer) are helping him despite their better judgement and this circle of friends increases to include Mike, Ben and Beverly (Chosen Jacobs, Jeremy Ray, and Sophia Lillis); all of whom are outcasts in one way or another and seem to be the only ones even TRYING to figure out what’s going on in their small town. Will they find the answers they seek the further they delve into the town’s cryptic history? What will Pennywise the clown do once he realizes these kids are onto him, and is there more to him than meets the eye? How the heck are they gonna do in two hours what a TV movie couldn’t do in less than three!? AND THEY HAD TIM CURRY TO HELP WITH THAT ONE!!
The Dark Tower and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures
Directed by Nikolaj Arcel
2007. That’s when the first rumblings of this movie’s production started to surface which it’s been LANGUISHING in cinematic limbo for a decade now. Remember when Ron Howard was gonna turn the Dark Tower into a simultaneous Television/Film experience? I sure do! Now I love me some Stephen King, but The Dark Tower was one of those things that I just let pass me by and it seemed like for a while there that Hollywood was going to do the same, but Sony decided to take this ball and cross it over the finish line in whatever state it ultimately ended up in. With so much going against this movie, from the hit or miss nature of Stephen King films, the troubled production which included three directors working on this over its ten year gestation, to even the fact that releasing a high concept fantasy movie in the modern cinematic landscape that ISN’T tied to a comic book, video game, or eighties cartoon is pretty much flirting with disaster at this point, is it possible that a GOOD movie managed to come out of all that strife and discord? Let’s find out!!
Despite what the trailers may tell you, the movie is ACTUALLY about a boy named Jake (Tom Taylor) who’s waking up every morning in a cold sweat due to his recurring dream about a man in black (Matthew McConaughey) and his horrifying sciencey magical experiments on children in hopes of destroying some giant tower. A DARK tower, if you will! He’s drawing images of what he dreams about every day (presumably in hopes of winning an Eisner once he puts all the pieces together) which along with his less than stellar coping skills over the death of his father has made him somewhat ostracized at school and has his mother very concerned. Too bad for them that his stories about evil wizards, rat people wearing human skins, and dead children turn out to be COMPLETELY TRUE as he finds a portal to another world where all this very odd stuff is happening. Gee, a misunderstood creative type who gets proven right in a Stephen King story!? WHO’D HAVE THOUGHT!? Anyway, from there he meets up with the GOOD GUY in his graphic novel who is Roland; THE LAST GUNSLINGER (Idris Elba). Now Roland wants to put a few right between The Man in Black’s icy blues eyes (mostly due to the whole making him THE LAST GUNSLINGER thing)and this kid with seemingly psychic powers (where have seen THAT before in a Stephen King book) might just be the key to finding the sneaky bastard once and for all! Can these two unlikely allies manage to stop The Man in Black from his evil schemes before he destroys THE DARK TOWER and the universe along with it? What does The Man in Black have in store for them once they find his EVIL lair? Could Idris Elba look any more BAD ASS than he does in this movie!?