TIFF 2018: Sleepless in Toronto 

click to enlarge COURTESY TIFF
  • Courtesy TIFF
Remember Halloween 2? Never happened. Halloween 3? Didn't exist. Halloween 4, 5 and the rest? Figments of your imagination. Go ahead and convince yourself that seven Halloween sequels, plus a 2007 remake of the original Halloween and a sequel to that remake, don't exist either. That's what the producers of this year's Halloween want you to believe. In fact, they made it very clear at the world premiere of the new scare-a-thon at the Toronto International Film Festival that it's the only sequel to the original 1978 Halloween.

That's a bit silly, don't you think? But it's still not half as silly as watching the film and then retreating from the theater somewhere around 2 a.m. Welcome to Midnight Madness, TIFF's incredibly successful track of films that lean toward the scary, fantastic and fantastically scary.

The conceit of the new Halloween is that Michael, the ultimate slasher who terrorized everyone in sight in the original film, especially Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), is about to be transferred from a mental institution to a prison some 40 years after his original murders. Now, nothing could possibly go wrong, right? Well, it turns out that this time around Laurie becomes Michael's worst nightmare, the hunter, and he becomes the hunted.

Quite frankly, a film like this is critic-proof. It doesn't matter a lick what I think about Halloween. Audiences will go and have a grand old time. I jumped out of my skin a few times during the film, mostly because everyone sitting around me was screaming his or her lungs out. It's a fair bet that they were high. My hearing may have been damaged, but my nose could definitely detect something familiar.

click to enlarge COURTESY TIFF
  • Courtesy TIFF
Not having yet learned that I'm much too old to be cavorting at Midnight Madness, I also made a point of checking out the new Predator remake.  Correction: That's The Predator. Producers probably spent endless hours on whether to add the article "the" to the title. No worries, though. This wont be confused with the original (made 31 years ago) or its forgettable sequels.  The most obvious difference is that The Predator gives audiences a really good look at the alien monster pretty early on (the original waited until the second half for the big reveal). But the biggest difference is that The Predator never takes itself too seriously. And with a cast that includes Keegan-Michael Key and Olivia Munn, it offers plenty of gross-out humor along with the gross-out nastiness of corpses piling up.

Yet the biggest buzz at The Predator's premiere swirled around what wasn't up on the big screen. Only hours before the premiere, it was reported that producers had cut an entire scene from the film because it included an actor who is a registered sex offender. The Hollywood Reporter said the actor had served six months behind bars after admitting to felony risk of injury to a child.

Munn later told The Hollywood Reporter that the rest of her co-stars "bailed" on her on the press tour leading up the film's debut, after she blew the whistle on the actor who was cut.

"I do feel like I've been treated by some people [like] I'm the one who went to jail or I'm the one that put this guy on set," Munn told THR. She added that she was "contractually obligated" to promote the film.

Now, that's scary.
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