Stephen King is a pop culture entity that is guaranteed to stay in the public consciousness for a very long time. Every few years he fades in to the background for a while, and then re-emerges to take pop culture by storm. The last few years have been yet another Stephen King renaissance with the new popularity of classic novels, the smashing popularity of “It” and the re-release of a lot of his famous and infamous cinematic entries. Everything from “Christine” to “Maximum Overdrive” has been given a physical release, and it’s a lot of to see how much King has carved his way in to pop culture, with various hits and stumbles. “Sleepwalkers” is a stumble.
Bo Burnham’s coming of age drama comedy “Eighth Grade” is an impressive debut that’s managed to tap in to the point in life where we’re transitioning in to a very difficult period of puberty and adolescence. Everyone remembers their time in eighth grade, and like John Hughes, he explores a period of youth that is very much modern, and speaks to today’s teens. Burnham sets a light on the age of self discovery and the time where we’re learning about what we are as people.
I think the time for Slender Man to become a modern horror icon has passed. He had his period after 2009 where he rose to popularity as a genuine boogey man so authentic people still believe there’s a basis of truth behind his creation. I think with horror moving at such a fast pace, we likely won’t see a good Slender Man movie at all. Which is a shame, because Slender Man could be fodder for how horror and technology has evolved, but now he’s just a fourth tier movie monster behind Jigsaw and Bughuul from “Sinister.”
The thing about RKSS’s latest eighties inspired genre offering is that it’ll poke all the right nostalgia cords with audiences. There’s so much eighties ephemera, that it’ll be difficult not to be charmed by it. But deep down beneath the “Cruel Summer” music cues, and giant camcorders beats the heart of a vicious, mean spirited and dark murder mystery that was often unpleasant and kind of dull. To admit that isn’t easy as I loved RKSS’s “Turbo Kid” and anxiously wanted to see what they would do with a murder mystery. But while you might get shades of “Stranger Things” here and there, the movie itself is pretty crappy.
Are we still under the spell of Melissa McCarthy? Can we admit she’s just a mediocre comedian trotting out endlessly trite and dull movie vehicles? After her attempt to revisit “Back to School” with her own silly, weird, often meandering comedy “Life of the Party,” I’m pretty much over McCarthy. Beyond “Bridesmaids” and “Spy,” she’s never managed to impress and keeps relying on vehicles that become vanity projects with husband Ben Falcone who doesn’t seem to know how to utilize McCarthy. One moment Deanna is hiding in the bushes crying after being dumped by her husband, the next as she burns her husband’s possessions, it explodes in her face, causing her to comically plop on to the ground.
The only reason to watch “Go, Johnny, Go!” is if you want to see some of the best rock and roll artists of all time do their thing on the big screen. Other than that, “Go, Johnny, Go!” is the story of the boring, milquetoast Johnny Melody, a bright eyed, blond white boy who rose from the slums as an orphan to become a rock and roll singer. It’s surprising that a movie featuring Ritchie Valens, and Chuck Berry would only focus on the most uninteresting individual, as when the movie stops to spread its paper thin premise with performances, it ironically becomes worth sitting through.
It’s apt that John Hughes’ “The Breakfast Club” would be granted a Criterion release, as it’s still one of the most riveting character studies ever released. While it’s often imitated, Hughes’ 1985 drama stands alone as a hallmark of simplicity, grabbing a cast at the top of their game in a decade, offering up truly remarkable performances in already seasoned careers. “The Breakfast Club” was basically “The Big Chill.” Except for a drama being about people in the middle of their lives, we’re able to sit down for ninety minutes with five young people at the beginning of their lives pondering on what they could become as adults, what they don’t want to become as adults, and what they fear they will become as adults.
Director Tom De Simone’s “Hell Night” usually gets lumped in together with a lot of the other eighties slashers, but in reality his genre offering is so much more unique than a simple hack and slash. “Hell Night” is a great Halloween horror romp that feels like something pulled out of a haunted house Gothic novel. It’s the perfect fixture for the holiday delivering a relentlessly bleak tone that makes it quite an unnerving experience all the way through. Linda Blair can do these kinds of horror movies in her sleep and she plays final girl Marti quite well, doing her best to battle a deformed monster in its territory.