Happy October and welcome! All 31 days this month, I will be reviewing all the films I watch in the month of October. They’re mostly a selection of horror or suspense films in my own library or films and shows that have been recommended to me.
Please enjoy and leave a comment!
And if you missed any of our past reflections, take a look:
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
The Haunting (1963)
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
The Other (1972)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
The Shining (1980)
Halloween II (1981)
The Evil Dead (1981)
Halloween III – Season of the Witch (1982)
Teen Wolf (1985)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
The Monster Squad (1987)
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
The Lost Boys (1987)
Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987)
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
They Live (1988)
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Ghostbusters II (1989)
Predator 2 (1990)
The Addams Family (1991)
Alien 3 (1992)
Army of Darkness (1992)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Crow (1994)
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Alien: Resurrection (1997)
Scream 2 (1997)
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
What Lies Beneath (2000)
Scream 3 (2000)
28 Days Later (2002)
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
The Ring (2002)
Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
AVP: Alien vs Predator (2004)
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Snakes on a Plane (2006)
Alien vs Predator: Requiem (2007)
Halloween II (2009)
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Escape From Tomorrow (2013)
Before I Wake (2016)
Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)
Alien: Covenant (2017)
Happy Death Day (2017)
Get Out (2017)
Gerald’s Game (2017)
Our next film is…
WATCHING: The Predator (2018)
DIRECTOR: The great Shane Black who juuuuust misses the mark here even though he helped write this sucker.
WHAT IS IT?: The fourth standalone film in the Predator franchise, which attempts to go back to telling a simple story.
THE PLOT: A young boy accidentally brings our favorite race of alien hunters to Earth — and, yes, a bunch of Army bros are the only thing that stand in the way of it and the mass destruction it’s capable of causing.
WHAT DID CRITICS THINK?: The film was panned by critics who called the film “unnecessary” and “hollow”. Several critics pointed out that the film meant nothing and didn’t do much to improve upon the franchise. It also didn’t help that Shane Black got a ton of backlash for hiring a sex offender — and then defending him, before taking his words back and apologizing.
WHAT DID I THINK?: Boyd Holbrook (who played Pierce in Logan) is the lead as “Quinn McKenna”…and he’s just ok. In “Logan”, he was ruthless and you wanted his head. Here, he’s a plain old meathead. There’s nothing remarkable about him or his performance. Olivia Munn is also here, playing a biologist, and she would have been better than Holbrook as the heroic lead.
The rest of the cast is a lot of fun in Trevante Rhodes, Thomas Jane, Augusto Aguilera, Alfie Allen, and Keegan Michael-Key as a group of government captives who are all imprisoned for various reasons. Sterling K. Brown brings a nice intensity to the cast as Traeger, a government agent whose loyalties aren’t quite clear and who ends up standing in McKenna and his team’s way. Yvonne Strahovski (“Serena Joy” in The Handmaid’s Tale) plays McKenna’s wife while Jacob Tremblay plays Rory, McKenna’s son and he’s the best part of the cast, next to the rag-tag team of government prisoners.
The Predator has a bit more of a small town feel to it. It definitely doesn’t feel as big as the last three films and the film feels like we’re getting this story from the point of view of a miscreant rather than an honest recap. The film has a supreme lack of suspense to it. There aren’t any scares and the Predator Dog thing is just so awful, it deserves a Raspberry Award for worst effect or character or what have you.
Shane Black attempts to make up for these weaknesses with witty dialogue and snarky exchanges but this movie, while not the absolute bomb people have made it out to be, is pretty weak.
And speaking of that…
I have a soft spot for Shane Black. He’s one of my all-time favorite writers. He’s good-humored and he loves what he does. Black (who appeared in the original Predator film as the soldier with a penchant for vagina jokes) wrote this film along with his long-time colleague, Fred Dekker. Back in the 80’s, the two collaborated to write The Monster Squad, which was a wonderful, if campy, love letter to the old Universal movie monster set and which I’ve covered here. Black would go on to write classic action pieces like the original Lethal Weapon, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and the recent buddy cop film, The Nice Guys.
With The Predator, it’s very apparent he hasn’t lost his trademark snark (though he DOES ditch the expected Christmas setting and sets this one during Halloween instead) with some great banter between the characters (the bit about why the Predator is called The Predator is great and Rory’s response to Traeger’s condescending attitude made me laugh) but it’s aggravating just how sophomoric it gets. Plus the action set pieces are just so-so and the pacing isn’t exactly as strong as the prior films. That, and there are hints of outright sexism which permeate things.The films he’s written (Lethal Weapon, The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Monster Squad, to name a few) are so fun. That said, his direction is hit-or-miss. This is one of the “misses”.
Black seems to eschew everything that came before this film and attempts to return to the feel of the first one by injecting the old school machismo that made the first one so successful. Unfortunately, he makes a movie that doesn’t take itself seriously and gives us a creature that isn’t so much a hunter as it is a big horror movie monster. You might laugh at some of what’s written and cheer for Black’s penchant for noir, but nothing can cover the fact that Black made a major miscalculation here.