Goose­bumps 2: Haunted Hal­loween

Dog­man The Lonely Bat­tle of Thomas Reid

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - CINEMA - HI­LARY A WHITE HI­LARY A WHITE AINE O'CON­NOR

Cert: PG; Now show­ing

Want to make a for­tune? Write a se­ries of chil­dren’s hor­ror nov­els where both you and the books them­selves are part of the core mythol­ogy. That’s what RL Stine did back in 1992. Fol­low­ing zil­lions of sales, as well as for­ays into TV, film, mer­chan­dise, etc, the Goose­bumps brand is now a hulk­ing mon­ster in it­self.

Watch­ing this sec­ond fea­ture­film out­ing for the fran­chise, you start to see why Stine’s cre­ations have acted like cat­nip to a whole gen­er­a­tion of young imag­i­na­tions. The recipe in Ari San­del’s film, for ex­am­ple, is so sim­ple that it can’t re­ally go wrong — high school drama, sur­pris­ingly sharp hu­mour, and wild thrills served up with giddy aban­don by those Gothic hor­ror sta­ples we know and love.

A buoy­ant, spir­ited young cast is led by Madi­son Ise­man as high­schooler and aspir­ing writer Sarah. Brother Sonny (Jeremy Ray Tay­lor) and his pal Sam (Caleel Har­ris) dis­cover a ven­tril­o­quist’s dummy and a locked man­u­script in a creepy old house and take them home. Lo and be­hold, the dummy turns out to be supremely mis­chievous and in­ter­feres with the sib­lings’ lives for good and bad. But with Hal­loween night ap­proach­ing, big­ger plans are afoot for the pesky pup­pet who wants to bring mon­ster may­hem to the small sub­ur­ban town.

Spooky fun with a side-or­der of Grem­lins- es­que nos­tal­gic charm is let loose by this ef­fec­tive slab of en­ter­tain­ment for younger (but not too young) view­ers. Job well done.

Cert: 15A; Se­lected cin­e­mas

In a grim, de­cay­ing coastal re­sort on the out­skirts of Rome, Mar­cello (Mar­cello Fonte) runs a dog-groom­ing par­lour next to a hand­ful of other lowly busi­nesses cling­ing on for dear life. While not much of a phys­i­cal spec­i­men, he has a knack for han­dling large and for­mi­da­ble ca­nines and deals co­caine on the side so that he can lav­ish his young daugh­ter with nice va­ca­tions.

One of Mar­cello’s clients is Si­mon­cino (Edoardo Pesce), a vi­o­lent lo­cal scum­bag who tor­ments the whole neigh­bour­hood. Mar­cello finds a weird kind of se­cu­rity in the com­pany of this thug and be­comes em­broiled in crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity that he is too weak to ex­tri­cate him­self from.

Mat­teo Gar­rone ( Go­mor­rah, Tale of Tales) is a lead­ing light of a new wave of Ital­ian ‘ne­o­re­al­ists’, and while im­per­fect, Dog­man shows why.

The neigh­bour­hood where we see Mar­cello’s life spi­ral out of con­trol is a trans­fix­ing pres­ence through­out, part wild-west dust bowl, part post-apoc­a­lyp­tic ghost town. Ev­ery­thing is frayed and jaun­diced, in­clud­ing the char­ac­ters them­selves, and there is a slight feel­ing that while starkly mun­dane in some ways, stranger things are at work in these wretched lives, some­thing clown­ish and blackly ab­surd.

Dog­man is scat­tered with mo­ments of bril­liance from both Gar­rone and his core cast but con­cludes with some­thing of a dull thud. The whole doesn’t feel quite as great as the sum of its parts, as if its nar­ra­tive cir­cle is not fully closed. Cert: 12A; Now show­ing David and Go­liath sto­ries are al­ways good. This one is es­pe­cially timely be­cause it’s about valu­ing busi­ness in­ter­ests over hu­man in­ter­ests. It is in some ways like a com­pan­ion piece to the won­der­ful Rosie.

Fear­gal Ward’s doc­u­men­tary is shot in a way as to look al­most time­less and the man at the cen­tre of it, Thomas Reid, looks some­what time­less too. He lives alone in the same Kil­dare farm­house that his fam­ily have lived in for gen­er­a­tions; it’s un­tended and messy, full of mem­o­ries and hoarded things. The house and 72 acre farm were deemed by the IDA to be the most suit­able land for in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment. Reid was of­fered a large sum of money but didn’t want it, he wanted to stay on his farm and in his home. So, for the first time, the IDA used its power of com­pul­sory pur­chase. And Thomas Reid fought back.

Through Reid, ra­dio ex­tracts and re-en­act­ments the doc­u­men­tary paints a good pic­ture of the life he is de­fend­ing, of the foes he fought and how. And it raises is­sues about val­ues that need to be dis­cussed now more than ever.

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