Halloween – a weekly round-up of the latest films

Halloween will be released in local cinemas on October 19.
Halloween will be released in local cinemas on October 19.

Grab the popcorn!

HALLOWEEN (18)

The boogieman does exist and for decades, he has taken the towering form of masked maniac Michael Myers in a series of blood-drenched thrillers, which began with John Carpenter's seminal 1978 slasher Halloween.

Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle reprise their roles as ultimate survivor Laurie Strode and Michael for a climactic showdown that will appease fans of the series, set to the chilling strains of Carpenter's repetitive synthesiser score.

There is nothing self-reverential, knowing or fussy about this Halloween: Michael surprises and overpowers his victims using familiar tactics and the deaths are relentless, clinical and exceedingly grisly.

There are occasional flashes of mordant humour like when a sheriff (Omar Dorsey), who is on the trail of Michael, realises that the madman's rampage coincides with the date of his first killing spree.

"What are we gonna do? Cancel Halloween?" drolly quips the law man.

Thankfully not, otherwise audiences would be denied one of the stronger instalments of the long-running series.

As the 40th anniversary of the Haddonfield murders beckons, true crime podcasters Aaron Korey (Jefferson Hall) and Dana Haines (Rhias Rees) visit Smith's Grove rehabilitation facility.

They meet psychiatrist Dr Ranbir Sartain (Haluk Bilginer), who oversees the day-to-day care of notorious inmate Michael Myers (Castle), and foolishly attempt to bait the patient by brandishing his mask.

Alas, Michael remains eerily silent so the journalists focus on Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), the one woman to survive Myer's bloodbath.

She has become a recluse inside a fortified cabin with a basement panic room.

Laurie is reluctant to share the gory details of her past or talk about the estrangement from her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak).

Soon after, the bus which is transferring Michael to a new facility crashes and the hulking predator is released back into the wild.

Halloween repeatedly bows its head to Carpenter's original film, relying on solid jump scares to ensure a spiralling body count.

Action sequences are briskly choreographed and the script neatly aligns female characters as a unified force of strength against a male aggressor.

Released October 19. 

GOOSEBUMPS 2: HAUNTED HALLOWEEN (PG)

Terror creeps up when you least expect it.

I felt its icy fingers slither down my back and tingle my spine about 20 minutes into Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween: the action-packed sequel to the 2015 family-friendly horror comedy based on the book series by R. L. Stine.

Blood slowly drained from my face, my heart skipped a beat as a rasping voice echoed in the darkness of the cinema: "This film has been raised from the dead solely with box office takings in mind."

The first Goosebumps was laden with wicked tricks and treats including tour-de-force comic performances from Jack Black as author Stine and the voice of a demented puppet called Slappy, who unleashes monsters from one of Stine's books on the unsuspecting students of Madison High School.

Alas, Black is largely absent from Ari Sandel's laboured follow-up, which unravels quicker than a mummy's bandages in the fictional town of Wardenclyffe, where inventor Nikola Tesla once conducted his daring experiments with electricity.

Released October 19. 

HUNTER KILLER (12A)

An act of aggression towards the USS Tampa Bay in the Barents Sea forces CJCS Charles Donnegan (Gary Oldman) to mobilise a secret mission led by submarine captain Joe Glass (Gerard Butler).

Glass prepares to enter hostile waters that have never been crossed by an American ship, where his crew will face deadly threats from Russian warships and submarines.

En route to the last known location of the USS Tampa Bay, Glass receives new orders.

The Americans have learnt of a deadly coup in Russia: President Zakarin (Alexander Diachenko) is being held hostage by rogue forces, which intend to push the red button of a third world war.

Donnegan and his advisers including Jayne Norquist (Linda Cardellini) and John Fisk (Common) propose a bold and unconventional response: Glass wil rescue the Russian president with the help of a team of Navy SEALs on the ground led by Bill Beaman (Toby Stephens).

If Glass is to be successful, he will need to work closely with the Russians and he press-gangs fellow submarine captain Andropov (Michael Nyqvist) into helping him carry out the daring rescue operation.

Released October 19.