Movies & TV / Columns

Stew’s September Movie Thoughts: Candyman, Vacation Friends, More

October 1, 2021 | Posted by Rob Stewart

Last month, I lamented that I had only seen ten movies in the span of an entire month.

I went on a September TEAR (in the first half at least) to make up for that!


Seventeen days, twelve movies. That’s more like it. I kind of blew up in the last few days of August, man. And those ratings are all over the map: I had no consistency for the last two-plus weeks! It all ended up and a respectable average of 3.2 overall.

At the low end of things, we had new big studio horror releases in Malignant and Candyman. I scored Candyman 0.5 higher, but I 100% ENJOYED Malignant’s lunacy more. Neither were great. I went into depth on Malignant here.

For transparency’s sake on Candyman, I never saw the 90’s original, so a lot of the new one left me bewildered. I left the theater with a LOT of questions. “So wait, what about….” and “What was the point of…”. Stuff like that. Narratively, it was an unfocused mess. The acting was decent, but not enough to save it.

Next up looks to be the 2009 reboot of My Bloody Valentine. This was a surprisingly decent movie that hurt itself with its obsession with being in 3D. Its FULL of those gratuitous “IT’S COMING RIGHT AT YOU” type shots that made 3D so damn unwatchable for ages. It does a surprising number of things right, but those 3D moments were taking me all the way out of the experience.

A bunch of flicks in the 3-star range, mostly horror. The Night House I actually saw IN THEATERS and have already forgotten all about. It was a decent enough horror movie–great mood, very creepy, good acting–that just fell apart when it had to get to its resolution. It not only DIDN’T stick the landing; it broke both femurs on the attempt.

Here Comes Hell and Dawn Of The Beast were both Shudder watches if I recall correctly. HCH is a weird cross-section of a 1930’s Universal horror flick and Evil Dead… with a sprinkling of Ready Or Not. It starts very slow, but after I powered through the first 25 minutes or so, it got crazy enough to be fun and worth its runtime. There are some impressive extended crane shots, too. Speaking of Evil Dead, DotB rips off its 2013 remake almost wholesale… but then it has such a bonkers hard right turn in the third act, that it slayed me. It’s honestly comparable to Malignant, but made for much less money.

John Cena followed up THE Suicide Squad with another R-rated effort in Vacation Friends, and while I am loving his embrace of this vulgar Anti-Cena, I am curious to see if he will get a chance to spread his wings at all. Maybe he did in the last F&F movie, but I haven’t seen it yet (and heard it was awful). The movie had some good laughs, but nothing amazing. Cena was the star.

Jason X was a recent rewatch as I keep trying to make my friends watch Jason Movies. I’ve gotten them through Parts 2, 3, and X with them so far. That’s a weird trilogy, man, but X was free, and I couldn’t convince them to order $3 for a Jason, even when I offered to pay for it. If you want to hear me gush about Jason X, click here. I mean… he just wanted his machete back.

Jason X is better than Part 4 anyway. I SAID IT.

I’d never seen Black Christmas before now, and I continue my COVID-era endeavor to watch all the Horror classics I missed out on somehow. Reportedly the first ever Slasher picture, I was pleasantly surprised by how well this held up. Some really creative scene cuts, and a lot of good drama.

How awesome is Arnold Schwarzenegger, guys? Both Kindergarten Cop and True Lies are as great now as they were when they came out. I kind of want to go on an Arnold spree now. I have several other of his movies on my playlist still, so… maybe I will!

Oh, and Shang-Chi.

THIS Shang-Chi.


After a movie-heavy start to the month, I really tapered off in the back half as I pretty much just played video games (and watched TV with the wife with What If…?, Stargirl, and Titans all airing). This was also a very middling stretch. I bottomed out at just a 2.5, but nothing broke 3.5 in the other direction.

Snatch is a perfectly fine movie that it seems a lot of people like more than I did. It picks up well enough, but it starts… so… slow. Our Internet went out after the first 15 minutes, and I really wrestled with whether or not to start it back up a day or two later. It’s a bit too convoluted for convolution’s sake, but the characters are mostly fun. Especially Dennis Farina. Man, I miss him.

Bloodsport was my other 2.5, and while this movie has quality corresponding with being a Cannon Film, it’s just so fun once the fighting starts. Again, it’s a slow starter (and the acting is HORRENDOUS early on), but the turnaround is so wild. I love that our hero wins a fight by punching someone in the balls. And I love everything about Chong-Li. He should be the antagonist in every movie. I’d pay good money to see Avengers 5: The Rise Of Chong-Li.

Next up, we have both Cop Land and Big Trouble In Little China at 3 stars. Cop Land has a LOT going for it, but it’s actually hurt by being too short, a complaint I seldom levy. But in our post-True Detective world, this movie feels like it should have been a mini-series. There is just SO MUCH going on in it, and I feel like it needed more time to flesh out the subplots and minor plot points. It could have been an upper echelon series instead of a good two hour movie.

Big Trouble In Little China… man, I already need to watch this again, because I’m not sure I appreciated the subversiveness of it enough. It starts out feeling very “white savior” with a Chinese man telling the cops that Jack Burton saved all of Chinatown, but then you get the Burton character being entirely hopeless and incompetent all movie. WHILE DOING A JOHN WAYNE IMPERSONATION THE WHOLE TIME. Big Trouble was flipping and lampooning the white savior trope back in 1986!

Or I’m giving it too much credit. But I don’t think so. I’ve seen Halloween. I know what Carpenter is capable of.

The best of this small batch was a rewatch of We’re The Millers, which is a delightful comedy from the last decade when so many others wrongly decried that comedy was dead. Its ending is a bit of a cheesefest, but the ride there is a lot of fun, and Will Poulter came out of it looking like a god damned star. He carries the first half of this film until everyone else rises to his level in the back end.

What is my movie pace for the year now? I bet it arced like a roller coaster after this month gave it a spike and then a fall. Let’s see…

142 movies in nine months, extrapolated over 12 months… that would be 189 by the end of the year. I just CAN’T get on pace for 200, man. I bet I go absolutely berserk in December trying to squeeze it all in to hit that target

All right, that’s it for this month! See you all in October. But before I do. let me know: What are your favorites and least favorites from what I saw? What scores do I have wrong? And what were some of your movie highlights for the first month of fall?

Until next time… take care!