25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2009)

CAST

Jim Carrey (How The Grinch Stole Christmas)
Gary Oldman (The Dark KNight)
Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
Bob Hoskins (Hollywoodland)
Robin Wright (Wonder Woman)
Cary Elwes (Saw)
Fionnula Flanagan (Transamerica)
Steve Valentine (Mars Attacks)
Daryl Sabara (Spy Kids)
Molly Quinn (Castle)
Paul Blackthorne (Arrow)
Callum Blue (Smallville)
Sammi Hanratty (Salem)

In 1843, on Christmas Eve, Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly old moneylender at a London counting house, does not share the merriment of Christmas. He declines his cheerful nephew Fred Holywell’s invitation to a Christmas dinner party, and rejects two gentlemen’s offer to collect money for charity. His loyal employee Bob Cratchit asks Scrooge to allow him to have a day off on Christmas Day to spend time with his family, to which Scrooge reluctantly agrees before leaving. In his house, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his deceased business partner Jacob Marley, who warns him to repent his wicked ways or he will be condemned in the afterlife like he was, carrying heavy chains forged from his own greediness. Jacob informs Scrooge that three spirits will visit to guide him out of his misery.Scrooge is visited by the candle-like Ghost of Christmas Past, who takes him back in time to his early life. They visit Scrooge’s boarding school and Scrooge sees his sister Fanie, who died after giving birth to Fred. Scrooge later begins a successful career in business and money lending as an employee under Fezziwig, and he becomes engaged to a woman named Belle. However, the Ghost shows Scrooge how Belle left him when he became obsessed with wealth. A devastated Scrooge extinguishes the spirit with its candle snuffer cap but Scrooge is rocketed thousands of feet into the air while clinging onto the snuffer, only to have it disappear, resulting in Scrooge falling down to earth, back into his bedroom for the next visitation.Scrooge meets the merry Ghost of Christmas Present, which shows him the joys and wonder of Christmas Day. Scrooge and the Ghost visit Bob’s house, learning his family is content with their small dinner, Scrooge taking pity on Bob’s ill son Tiny Tim. The Ghost abruptly ages, commenting that Tiny Tim will likely not survive until next Christmas. The Ghost warns Scrooge about the evils of “Ignorance” and “Want”; Big Ben begins tolling midnight as “Ignorance” and “Want” manifest themselves before Scrooge as two wretched children who grow into violent, insane individuals, leaving the spirit withering away, dying at length when midnight strikes (to the point of dissolving into a skeleton before the twelfth strike).The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come arrives, appearing as a dark shadow, and takes Scrooge into the future. He witnesses a group of businessmen discussing the death of an unnamed man where they would only attend the funeral if lunch is provided; Scrooge is then chased across London by the Ghost and later discovers that his possessions are stolen and sold by his maid Mrs. Dilber. Shortly afterwards, Scrooge sees a covered corpse on a bed, followed by a family that is relieved he is dead, as they have more time to pay off their debt. The spirit transports Scrooge to Bob’s residence, discovering that Tiny Tim has died. Scrooge is then taken to a cemetery, where the Ghost points out his own grave, confirming Scrooge was the man who died. Scrooge promises to change his ways just as the Ghost forces him to fall into his empty coffin lying in a deep grave that sits above the fires of Hell.Waking up in his own room on Christmas Day, with love and happiness in his heart, a gleeful Scrooge decides to surprise Bob’s family with a turkey dinner, and ventures out with the charity workers and the citizens of London to spread happiness in the city, and later attends his nephew’s annual Christmas dinner, where he is warmly welcomed. The following day, he gives Cratchit a raise and becomes like “a second father” to Tiny Tim, who escapes death. A changed man, Scrooge now treats everyone with kindness, generosity, and compassion; he now embodies the spirit of Christmas.Jim Carrey is full of surprises and the entire movie is a theatrical outburst of his talent, under the brilliant direction of Robert Zemeckis. Brilliant because it manages to take the Dickens story and walk us through all its dimensions.  It’s an enchanting story and I encourage you all to see it.

REVIEW: HALLOWEEN (2007)

CAST

Scout Taylor-Compton (The Core)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations)
Brad Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
Tyler Mane (X-Men)
Daeg Faerch (Hanock)
Sheri Moon Zombie (The Devil’s Rejects)
William Forsythe (The Rock)
Richard Lynch (Puppet Master 3)
Udo Kier (Blade)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Danielle Harris (Left For Dead)
Kristina Klebe (Police State)
Courtney Gains (Children of The Corn)
Skyler Gisondo (The Three Stooges)
Dee Wallace (E.T.)
Bill Moseley (Army of Darkness)
Lew Temple (Domino)
Tom Towles (Fortress)
Leslie Easterbrook (Police Academy)
Pat Skipper (Erin Brockovich)
Daryl Sabara (Spy Kids)
Richmond Arquette (Broken Blood)
Ken Foree (The Lords of Salem)
Daniel Roebuck (Final Destination)
Sid Haig (The Devil’s Rejects)

On Halloween in Haddonfield, Illinois, having already shown signs of psychopathic tendencies, 10-year-old Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch) murders a school bully. Later that night, he murders his older sister Judith (Hanna R. Hall), his mother’s abusive boyfriend Ronnie (William Forsythe), and Judith’s boyfriend Steve (Adam Weisman). Only his baby sister, Angel Myers, is spared. After one of the longest trials in the state’s history, Michael is found guilty of first degree murder and sent to Smith’s Grove — Warren County Sanitarium under the care of child psychologist Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell). Michael initially cooperates with Dr. Loomis, claiming no memory of the killings; his mother, Deborah (Sheri Moon Zombie), visits him regularly. Michael becomes fixated on his papier-mâché masks, closing himself off from everyone, even his mother. When Michael kills a nurse as Deborah is leaving from one of her visits, she can no longer handle the situation and commits suicide. For the next fifteen years, Michael (Tyler Mane) continues making his masks and not speaking to anyone. Dr. Loomis, having continued to treat Michael over the years, attempts to move on with his life and closes Michael’s case. Later, while being prepared for transfer to maximum security, Michael escapes Smith’s Grove, killing the sanitarium employees and a truck driver for his overalls, and makes his way back to Haddonfield. On Halloween, Michael arrives at his now abandoned childhood home, where he recovers the kitchen knife and Halloween mask.
The story shifts to Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton), and her friends Annie Brackett (Danielle Harris) and Lynda Van Der Klok (Kristina Klebe) on Halloween. Throughout the day, Laurie witnesses Michael watching her from a distance. That night, she goes to babysit Tommy Doyle (Skyler Gisondo). Meanwhile, Lynda meets with her boyfriend Bob (Nick Mennell) at Michael’s childhood home. Michael appears, murders them, and then heads to the Strode home, where he murders Laurie’s parents, Mason (Pat Skipper) and Cynthia (Dee Wallace). Dr. Loomis, having been alerted of Michael’s escape, comes to Haddonfield looking for Michael. After obtaining a gun, Loomis attempts to warn Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif) that Michael has returned to Haddonfield. Brackett and Dr. Loomis head to the Strode home, with Brackett explaining along the way that Laurie is actually Michael’s sister Angel.
Meanwhile, Annie convinces Laurie to babysit Lindsey Wallace (Jenny Gregg Stewart), a girl Annie is supposed to be watching, so she can have sex with her boyfriend Paul (Max Van Ville). Annie and Paul return to the Wallace home and during sex, Michael kills Paul and attacks Annie. Bringing Lindsey home, Laurie finds Annie on the floor, bloodied but alive, and calls the police. She is attacked by Michael, who chases her back to the Doyle home. Sheriff Brackett and Loomis hear the call announced over the radio and head toward the Wallace residence. Meanwhile, Michael kidnaps Laurie and takes her back to his home. Michael approaches Laurie and tries to show her that she is his younger sister, presenting a picture of the two siblings with their mother. Unable to understand, Laurie grabs Michael’s knife and stabs him before escaping the house; Michael chases her, but is repeatedly shot by Dr. Loomis.Laurie and Loomis are just about to leave when Michael grabs Laurie and heads back to the house. Loomis intervenes and tries to reason with Michael, but Michael attacks him by squeezing Loomis’s skull with his hands. Laurie takes Loomis’s gun and runs upstairs; she is chased by Michael, who, after cornering her on a balcony, charges her head-on, knocking both of them over the railing. Laurie finds herself on top of a bleeding Michael. Aiming Loomis’ gun at his face, she repeatedly pulls the trigger until the gun finally goes off just as Michael’s hand grips Laurie’s wrist.
I like this film. It does not diminish my enjoyment of Carpenter’s original, and neither does Carpenter’s original diminish my enjoyment of this film. As far as I’m concerned, they can co-exist as entirely separate entities, to be appreciated on their own terms.