It’s Halloween weekend, but that doesn’t mean the pandemic is over. We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but trick-or-treating this year is a not a very smart idea for anyone. Instead, stay home and watch a scary movie with the kids like ParaNorman or Frankenweenie or, if you’re one of those really cool parents, The Exorcist. Or you can watch some new films that debuted this week. Here are short reviews of three…
The Craft: Legacy
If human nature forces you to compare The Craft: Legacy to the original 1996 supernatural teen flick, you’ll likely find it a lot less edgy. Maybe that has a little to do with the fact that the original film was rated R and this new sequel is a teenage-friendly PG-13, but that’s not the only reason. Written and directed by Zoe Lister-Jones (Band Aid), Legacy follows four witches who create a coven to see how powerful they can become when they combine forces. The four new actresses – Cailee Spaeny, Zoey Luna, Gideon Adlon and Lovie Simone – are all very likeable and the chemistry between them feels like a real high school friendship. But Lister-Jones’ script is mostly nonsensical, especially in the third act of the film when David Duchovny’s stepdad character gets more screen time. If you loved Charmed on the CW back in the 90s, you might give Legacy a pass. But if you’re one of those hardcore fans of the original who has a wiccan altar assembled every Halloween in honor of Fairuza Balk, the sequel will only spell disaster. Read our interview with trans Latina actress Zoey Luna. The Craft: Legacy is now streaming on VOD platforms. 2 out of 5 stars (not recommended)
Written and directed by first-time feature filmmaker Jacob Chase, Come Play is the kind of movie released on Halloween weekend that gives technology-driven horror movies an awful reputation. It’s also one of those movies where a kid that looks like the mop-haired boy from The Shining (Redrum!) scribbles something in black crayon, so that everyone knows something evil is about to happen. In Come Play, that kid is Oliver (Azhy Robertson), a non-verbal, autistic student who uses a special phone app to help him communicate. When a creepy monster named Larry, who sounds like he’s walking around with a plastic water bottle in his pocket, starts talking to him through his phone, Oliver’s mother and father (Gillian Jacobs and John Gallagher Jr.) must find a way to protect their son before Larry escapes his device and takes him as his new friend. Besides the predictable and silly script, the major flaw in Come Play is the lack of emotional connection between Oliver and his parents. It’s evident Chase saw 2014’s The Babadook a few hundred times, but the execution feels more like Slender Man. Come Play is currently playing at local theaters. Wear a mask. 1.5 out of 5 stars (not recommended)
The survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have a message for gun-rights advocates who see them as the enemy. They support the Second Amendment and don’t actually want to take your guns away. But they also never want anyone to experience the pain they went through when 14 of their classmates and three staff members were murdered by a gunman in 2018. In the documentary Us Kids, director Kim A. Snyder tells the stories of these teens and their fight for sensible changes to gun laws and how the span of six minutes and 20 seconds (the time it took the gunman to kill 17 people) has impacted their lives forever. Snyder gives these heroes a voice as many on the right villainize them. But she also shows the frustration and emotional toll it’s taking on them, too. If anything, Us Kids is proof that being an advocate for something as polarizing as gun control is a difficult job. Now, imagine being one of the most recognizable torchbearers for a movement that is becoming revolutionary. Us Kids is currently streaming for free at the Alamo Drafthouse’s Virtual Cinema from now through Election Day, November 3. 3.5 out of 5 stars (recommended)
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