Fresh Horror Movies for the Weekend

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Screening late for the press are The Final Destination and Halloween II, both of which open two. First, Scott Foundas reviews the fourth installation in the FD series, which may or may not be its final iteration:

Fatality lurks around every ceiling fan, shampoo bottle, and espresso machine in the fourth entry in New Line Cinema's improbably long-running death-by-misadventure franchise, focused on yet another group of friends who narrowly escape a catastrophic accident only to learn the hard way that when your number's up, it really is up. The Grim Reaper seems to have taken a hit from the lean economic times, judging from The Final Destination's el cheapo Canada-as-Anytown, USA, production values and sub-One Tree Hill cast; but as usual, all that is merely fuel for the series' signature domino-effect death scenes, here rendered in shlock-o-riffic 3-D by director David R. Ellis (Final Destination 2, Snakes On a Plane), bringing all manner of bodily impalement and dismemberment as close as the butter on your popcorn.

Ellis and screenwriter Eric Bress even go all meta on us with an Inglourious Basterds-esque finale set inside a 3D cinema, though their set-pieces never quite muster the giddy brio of Final Destination 1 and 3 auteur James Wong at his best. They come close, however, in what I'm fairly certain is the silver screen's first episode of pool-drain disembowelment. And to think, people say there are no fresh ideas in Hollywood anymore. (Rated R, 82 minutes, opens at Thornton Place and other theaters) SCOTT FOUNDAS

Halloween II

Serial killer Michael Myers, it turns out, has mother issues. In this disappointing sequel to his intense and much underrated 2007 remake of John Carpenter's 1978 classic, Halloween, rock star turned filmmaker Rob Zombie sends Michael (Tyler Mane) on another killing spree at the urging of his now-dead mom (Sheri Moon Zombie), who appears (all too frequently) as a beckoning ghost standing next to a white horse. Once again, Michael hunts baby-sitter extraordinaire Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton), who's living, one year after the first film's murders, with the town sheriff (Brad Dourif). In his 2007 movie, Zombie dug deep into Michael's screwed-up, white trash family history, a process which humanized Michael and made his subsequent brutality all the more unsettling. This time, Zombie doesn't appear to have many deep thoughts, so Michael doesn't just stab his victims, he slices and chomps them into gooey pulp -- an overkill motif that actually feels false to the character and quickly becomes a depressing bore. As evidenced by his previous Halloween flick and 2005's astonishing (and irredeemably brutal) The Devil's Rejects, Zombie has talent to burn, but he's slumming here, and one suspects that he knows it. (Rated R, 101 minutes, opens at Meridian and other theaters) CHUCK WILSON

 
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