Jamie Lee Curtis in David Gordon Green’s ‘Halloween Kills’: Film Review | Venice 2021

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Hollywood Reporter 08 September, 2021 - 03:01pm 22 views

When does Halloween kills come out?

“Halloween Kills” premiered at the 2021 Venice Film Festival. Universal Pictures releases it in theaters on October 15, 2021. IndieWire‘Halloween Kills’ Review: Little More to Offer Than a Jacked Up Body Count on a Bed of Fan Service

Michael Myers is once again back in Haddonfield to spread carnage by the light of jack-o’-lanterns in this second part of a trilogy tied directly to John Carpenter’s original.

By David Rooney

“Evil dies tonight,” shout the inflamed townsfolk of Haddonfield, Illinois, more times than you can count in Halloween Kills. Or maybe it’s “A franchise dies tonight?” I might have misheard. Either way, this latest installment is like a latex ghoul mask so stretched and shapeless it no longer fits.

Three years ago, David Gordon Green successfully breathed new life into the mythology of Michael Myers by building a story about the legacy of trauma and pitting three generations of women from the same family against the psycho-slasher introduced by John Carpenter in the influential 1978 horror classic. Green and his co-writers made the smart choice to ignore the multiple disposable sequels and return to the beloved original, picking up the story of “final girl” survivor Laurie Strode 40 years after that fateful night.

But in this second part of a trilogy spun out of the rebooted property — all set on the same night and slated to conclude with next year’s Halloween Ends — Green has made exactly the kind of witless, worthless sequel that bled the franchise dry in the 1980s and ’90s. It premieres in Venice in conjunction with a Golden Lion career achievement award being presented to Jamie Lee Curtis, who deserves to be celebrated for any number of more memorable films.

What’s most disappointing is that after reimagining Curtis’ Laurie as a fierce warrior grandmother, hardened by PTSD into a tough customer at considerable cost to her personal relationships, here she’s basically sidelined in post-surgery recovery. She gets to spout some wobbly Halloween lore, about Michael transcending mortality to become a superhuman disseminator of fear. But mostly she’s just killing time waiting for the inevitable showdown in the closing chapter.

In a screenplay co-written with Scott Teems and Danny McBride, Green’s storytelling skills are in trouble from the start. It’s a full 20 minutes before we find Laurie where we left her at the end of 2018’s Halloween, clutching a nasty abdominal knife wound in the back of a pickup truck with her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). As firefighters speed in the other direction, toward the blaze of the house where Laurie has trapped Michael in the basement, she screams, “Let it burn!” She seems to know already that Michael won’t be kind to those first responders.

Before all that, we wade through clunky detours and messy recaps of Michael’s history, from his murder of his 6-year-old sister, through his 1978 Halloween night rampage in Carpenter’s film to his escape from a psychiatric hospital 40 years later — along with another patient who’s roughly half his height and yet somehow later manages to be mistaken for Michael by an angry mob.

The writers have combed the original story by Carpenter and Debra Hill for any surviving minor character they can subject to more punishment. That includes Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall), whom Laurie was babysitting in ’78; and Lindsey Wallace (Kyle Richards, reprising the role), whose babysitter, Annie, was one of Michael’s victims. Annie’s dad, former sheriff Brackett (Charles Cyphers), is still around, now working security at Haddonfield Hospital.

Also still kicking is Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens), a colleague of Michael’s former psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis, now sadly departed but resurrected in an inadvertently amusing flashback by someone doing a bad Donald Pleasence impersonation: “Pure eve-ill!” That 1978 interlude sheds light on Will Patton’s Officer Hawkins, played in his rookie-cop years by Thomas Mann in scenes that reveal how he failed his fellow officer and didn’t stop Michael when he had the chance. But Patton’s main function here is to give Laurie someone to talk to in the ICU.

That leaves a whole lot of barely developed characters to hunt down Michael or help pump up his body count. Or both. At the nominal center is the posse captained by Hall’s blustery bore, Tommy, leading the “Evil dies tonight!” charge. He’s accompanied by feisty Allyson, packing heat like Grandma taught her; her boyfriend, Cameron (Dylan Arnold); and Cam’s father, Lonnie (Robert Longstreet), who narrowly escaped a brush with Michael back in ’78.

Green amps up the violence and gore at the expense of actual scares or even a modicum of suspense. This is a curiously numbing bloodbath, as the masked Michael (James Jude Courtney) supplements his knife skills with everything from a pickax to a fluorescent light tube. Within the context of Carpenter’s laser-focused plotting, Michael’s kills were often subversively playful, suggesting a warped sense of humor beneath his psychosis. Here, he’s just a mayhem machine, going through the motions.

Laurie speaks in awed tones at one point of “Michael’s masterpiece,” stirring up the mob and disseminating chaos. But there’s no sense of him having much of a plan beyond eliminating anyone dumb enough to get in his way. Or a gay couple — called Big John (Scott MacArthur) and Little John (Michael McDonald), in a touch I assume was intended to add some levity — sufficiently heedless to think they can slap a coat of paint on a haunted house and live there unharmed. None of this is either frightening or fun, unless you get a kick out of watching Judy Greer wield a pitchfork.

Perhaps the saddest way in which Green bulldozes the lean-and-mean essence of the Carpenter mold is how far he strays from the latter’s insidious use of music. For those of us who saw the phenomenally successful 1978 indie back before its terrifying power had been diluted by endless riffs and rip-offs, the needling synth notes of Carpenter’s score could plant themselves in our heads whenever we entered a dark empty house. (OK, I’m speaking for myself.)

I felt a genuine jolt of excitement as the first gut-churning electronic rumble is heard here over the Universal logo. But as in everything else, restraint has been abandoned. Carpenter’s son Cody and Daniel Davies share composing credit with the master, going big and bombastic, and layering in vocal elements. But instead of getting under your skin, the music hammers you over the head. Call it Halloween Overkills.

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Early Halloween Kills Reviews Are In, See What Critics Are Saying

Cinema Blend 08 September, 2021 - 05:18pm

Can you hear the cold air rustling through the trees yet? Halloween season is finally upon us, and this year that means another visit from Michael Myers to follow up the story told in 2018’s Halloween. Its upcoming sequel from David Gordon Green, Halloween Kills, once again stars Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode and picks up right where the final girl left off, in hopes of taking down her stalker once in for all. The Halloween sequel just had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, and with that, its first reviews have hit the internet.

Stay tuned for CinemaBlend’s review of the film ahead of its mid-October release. Until then, let’s look at the first few reviews of Halloween Kills. Marshall Shaffer had great things to say about it for Slashfilm, calling the movie a “compelling” entry into the series that shows off its filmmakers' ability to bring more to Michael Myers over 40 years later. In his words:

After proving they could relaunch Halloween, they depart a bit from the formula to exciting and energizing effect. It's a worthy series entry that manages that tricky balance of providing enough of what long-time fans expect while also bringing a unique reflection and perspective to the well-known property.

The Wrap’s Asher Luberto also left the Venice Film Festival screening with positive things to say about Halloween Kills. The critic called it an effective sequel and highlighted the movie for reaching for themes that go past your average slasher:

But Halloween Kills is no mere gore-fest — it’s about the generational trauma bestowed upon Haddonfield. The action sequences are more than just action sequences; in Green’s social allegory, they are a way for citizens to confront their trauma, their rage, their oppression, and to reclaim their power and agency through revenge.

However, not everyone loved Halloween Kills. David Rooney shared his heavy criticism for the new horror movie, calling it “shapeless” in his review for The Hollywood Reporter:

Green has made exactly the kind of witless, worthless sequel that bled the franchise dry in the 1980s and ’90s… What’s most disappointing is that after reimagining Curtis’ Laurie as a fierce warrior grandmother, hardened by PTSD into a tough customer at considerable cost to her personal relationships, here she’s basically sidelined in post-surgery recovery.

Now here’s something to keep in mind. While Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode very much made her comeback to the franchise for the 2018 movie, it looks like she will be sidelined in Halloween Kills, maybe to save some big moments for Halloween Ends. Indiewire’s Ben Croll was also on the negative side, feeling like Halloween Kills was more than a bridge to the final installment to the trilogy coming next year. As he said:

Green has money to burn and time to kill, and the town of Haddonfield is right there waiting. And if this bloody entr’acte, whose title addition works as both noun and verb, has little to offer but a jacked up body count on a bed of fan service, it serves both with panache, charging forward as an almost elemental slasher outing unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.

It sounds like Halloween Kills suffers from some sequel pitfalls, which the franchise has certainly dealt with before, this one being the twelfth Halloween title in a legacy that started back in 1978 and helped popularize the slasher film genre. IGN’s Rafael Motamayor will close us out for now with some words from his review:

Most of the problems with Halloween Kills come from it being the second chapter in a trilogy that was announced prior to its release. Some characters sit out most of the action for seemingly no reason, while several themes and reveals are introduced and then dropped rather quickly, including some allusions to The Curse of Michael Myers that are sure to spark plenty of conversations among fans. Much of Halloween Kills is just table setting for the final confrontation, including an abrupt cliffhanger ending that makes this feel like half of a movie.

Overall, the first impressions for Halloween Kills are mixed. You can decide what you think about the movie yourself when the movie hits theaters on October 15. And check out what other horror movies are on their way in the near future here on CinemaBlend.

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.

Halloween Kills Review - IGN

Bloody Disgusting 08 September, 2021 - 03:00pm

Halloween Kills is a dark chapter in the story of Laurie Strode and Michael Myers, with a somber tone and even more gruesome murders than we’ve seen in previous installments. It finds fulfilling ways to expand the world of Carpenter's original with a larger focus on the town of Haddonfield and characters from the 1978 classic, while unfortunately suffering from feeling like an incomplete experience.

The film starts with a flashback to the end of the original Halloween, expanding the role of Deputy Frank Hawkins (played by Will Patton in the present time) to show us what really happened when Michael was finally caught after his killing spree. Director David Gordon-Green and cinematographer Michael Simmonds do a great job of recreating the look of Carpenter's original down to the film grain, and even find shockingly faithful ways to bring back old characters for new scenes. In fact, Halloween Kills feels even more closely indebted to the first film than the 2018 reboot/sequel did. There are nods to everything from Michael's gruesome disposal of a dog in the original movie, to Easter eggs to the entire franchise (there are several references to The Curse of Michael Myers), in addition to the returns of several fan-favorite characters. Thankfully, the nods and cameos are more than just fan service; they enhance the franchise as a whole by building a thematic bridge between the original and the new films, connecting the trauma of the past with the resurgence of The Shape in the present.

IGN's Jim Vejvoda gave the 2018 Halloween a 9/10. "While no entry in the franchise has surpassed the original film, this Halloween sequel is truly a cut above the rest and a great piece of horror entertainment even for those unfamiliar with the series," he wrote. "The tension is thick, the kills are brutal, the jokes are funny, and the performances are memorable across the board."

The main story takes place immediately following the events of the 2018 Halloween, with Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode, Judy Greer's Karen, and Andi Matichak's Allyson leaving Laurie's burning home, believing Michael to be dead. Of course, evil that strong never truly dies, and the Boogeyman comes home yet again. This time, however, the cast expands to include more than the Strode women and a bunch of innocent bystanders. Several characters from the 1978 original return, including Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall), Lindsey Wallace (Kyle Richards), Lonnie Elam (Robert Longstreet), and even former sheriff Leigh Brackett (Charles Cyphers).

Tired of living in constant fear, the townspeople of Haddonfield decide to form a mob and hunt down The Shape. This is a unique theme for a slasher movie, and one that Halloween Kills doesn't really know what to do with. There are interesting questions raised about mob mentality and what fear does to a community, but the script never fully decides whether to condemn or celebrate it.

Even if he has the entire town looking for him, Michael Myers is in no way the underdog. If anything, this is a much angrier, darker, and more violent film than 2018's Halloween, and it includes some of the most shocking and disturbing kills in the entire franchise. Where often the Halloween movies would cut away right as Michael gets the jump on someone and only reveal the aftermath of the crime, Halloween Kills fully displays Michael's brutal butchering of his victims.

Seriously, these murders are gory. The shock value is best exemplified when Halloween Kills gives us our first proper look at Michael’s sadistic artistic expression via his grandiose and campy staging of mutilated corpses, which is more disturbing than any Silver Shamrock product. Even John Carpenter's score is darker, slower, and more dramatic than any of his previous Halloween efforts, building up to what can best be described as the Empire Strikes Back of the Halloween franchise.

That's not to say that Halloween Kills is completely devoid of fun. It still knows when to balance the scares with moments of levity, including two new comic relief characters, played by Scott MacArthur and Michael McDonald, that steal the show every time they’re on screen, much in the same way Julian Morrisey (Jibrail Nantambu) did in the 2018 film.

Most of the problems with Halloween Kills come from it being the second chapter in a trilogy that was announced prior to its release. Some characters sit out most of the action for seemingly no reason, while several themes and reveals are introduced and then dropped rather quickly, including some allusions to The Curse of Michael Myers that are sure to spark plenty of conversations among fans. Much of Halloween Kills is just table setting for the final confrontation, including an abrupt cliffhanger ending that makes this feel like half of a movie.

As far as horror sequels go, especially sequels to reboots, Halloween Kills does a lot right. For one, it honors the original in a way that feels not like empty fan service, but as a compelling companion to the material. The film's darker tone instantly sets itself apart from its predecessors, diving more deeply into the themes of trauma and how it affects a community while delivering some truly gruesome kills. Sadly, it doesn't really stand on its own, being too dependent on a conclusion that is still a year away, one that could either fix some of the holes in this movie, or expose even greater flaws. Because of this, it's hard to recommend Halloween Kills as a standalone experience, but rest assured that when Michael is out on the hunt, Halloween certainly Kills.

‘Halloween Kills’ Review: It Will Feed Your Nostalgia…for Mediocre Slasher Sequels

Variety 08 September, 2021 - 03:00pm

By Owen Gleiberman

In 2018, when David Gordon Green was given the hallowed mission of rebooting the “Halloween” series (that the director of “All the Real Girls” would embrace becoming the showrunner of a slasher franchise says a lot about the 21st century, but let’s leave that for another time), his job was to wipe away 40 years of bad sequels and to restore the lurchy cinematic gamesmanship, the perfectly-timed-shock-cut ingenuity, and the scary-classic mystique of the 1978 “Halloween.” (That the original was, itself, a mayhem-by-the-numbers knockoff of “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” says a lot about the state of horror movies back then, but let’s leave that for another time.)

The mission was accomplished. “Halloween: The Reboot That We Promise, This Time, Is Actually Good and Not Just a Cheap Ripoff Imitation” had the same relation to the 1978 “Halloween” that “The Force Awakens” did to “Star Wars.” It wasn’t the real thing but an incredible simulation. Green had the craft and spirit to mimic John Carpenter’s elemental midnight B-movie canniness. The movie was just diverting and scary enough, and it got to remind the whole world of how cool, in her stalwart fear and fight, Jamie Lee Curtis always was.

Set 40 years after the first film, the 2018 “Halloween” took us back, in spirit, to the innocent garishness of the late ’70s, and that was a (minor) triumph. But in “Halloween Kills,” which picks up immediately after the last film, with Curtis’s Laurie Strode being rushed to the hospital after having trapped Michael Myers in her trick basement and burned him alive, Green more or less abandons the previous film’s enjoyable retro flavor. Michael, who was no more killed by Laurie than he was in all the other “Halloween” installments (“Halloween Kills” is the 12th), proceeds to go on his latest kitchen-blade stalker rampage, and the new movie becomes all about fusing the “Halloween” formula with the tropes and obsessions of today. Which turns out to be a real fear-killer.

The damage caused by Michael is now spoken of in the language of recovery. This starts when Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall), who was one of the two kids Laurie was babysitting on that fateful 1978 Halloween night, stands up before the costumed crowd at a bar and, in between talent-show acts that are more terrifying than anything else in the movie, he says, in solemn tones of sharing, “Please join me in commemorating the victims, and the survivors, of that Halloween.” The victims this time include a middle-aged biracial couple and also a gay couple, named Big John and Little John (really?), who live in Michael Myers’ old house, which they’ve renovated to within an inch of its dark polished floorboards. That these two treat Halloween night as an occasion to eat fancy hors d’ouevres and watch “Minnie and Moskowitz” makes one realize there are clichés you wish Michael Myers could kill off.

Laurie, confined to her hospital bed, gets up out of it by giving herself a double injection of opioids. “It’s all happening,” says Laurie. “Michael’s masterpiece!” What she means is that Michael isn’t just a mad killer anymore — he’s an orchestrator of chaos, a terrorist. His intent is not simply to murder but to cause ripples of fear (you know, like ISIS and Al Qaeda!).

And then there’s the mob that forms. Anthony Michael Hall, who in his crewcut looks like the kind of Middle American lout who cheered on the Capitol Riot, picks up a baseball bat out of the bar and heads after Michael. A crowd forms behind him, and by the time Hall gets to the hospital the crowd has swelled to a furious, surging, unruly metaphor for The Angry America Of Today. Everyone starts to chant “Evil dies tonight!” And as a demonstration of how this kind of thing can go awry, they target the wrong killer, thinking that Michael, unmasked, is the other crazy dude who just escaped from the local mental institution. That’s a twist so preposterous it’s high camp, since the guy who isn’t the killer is a homunculus who looks like Danny DeVito in a hospital gown. (Did they forget that Michael Myers is six-foot-five?)

Halloween night may be Michael Myers’ masterpiece, but “Halloween Kills” is no masterpiece. It’s a mess — a slasher movie that‘s almost never scary, slathered with “topical” pablum and with too many parallel plot strands that don’t go anywhere. Green, as clever a job as he did on the first film, wastes no time cutting back to where the “Halloween” series ultimately landed: in a swamp of luridly repetitive and empty sequels, with Michael turned into such an omnipresent icon that his image gets drained of any nightmare quality. He’s more like someone who belongs on a lunchbox. Curtis, so good in the last one, is mostly wasted this time (you can feel the film trying to think up things for her to do), as Laurie’s daughter (Judy Greer) and granddaughter (Andi Matichak) do most of the heavy lifting.

The relentless nattering about the past — Michael is evil! And evil can never be killed! — is the sure sign of a desperate, bottom-line-fixated sequel. The other sign is that Michael Myers, stabbing knives and broken light fixtures into people’s faces, may not be scary anymore, but he’s still a charismatic figure of darkness. You’re relieved every time he shows up, and it’s all about that doleful, rubbery-gray, Hamlet-of-psychos mask. After 40 years, that mask is more expressive than any of the actors in “Halloween Kills.”

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Halloween Kills Review: A Compelling Sequel That Proves There's More To Mine From Michael Myers [Venice 2021]

/FILM 08 September, 2021 - 03:00pm

"Halloween" sequels tend to follow a predictable pattern — after installments that foreground Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode, they tend to falter by removing her from the narrative. For a while in "Halloween Kills," David Gordon Green's follow-up to the 2018 legacyquel, it feels as if he's about to repeat history a third time with the character cooped up in a hospital bed for most of the first hour. But by the time she rises and resumes her never-ending fight against her grisly foe Michael Myers, the film has successfully shifted its focus toward a new center of gravity: the larger community of Haddonfield.

The film that results is something that feels entirely at home within the series' history and something that tries to journey down avenues unexplored in the previous 11 films. "Halloween Kills" is a direct sequel to the 2018 "Halloween;" it quite literally continues the action from the mayhem of that evening when three generations of Strode/Nelson women believe they have finally vanquished their masked menace.

But as far as franchise installments go, Green and co-writers Danny McBride & Scott Teems show far less interest in checking off familiar signifiers for fan service. After proving they could relaunch "Halloween," they depart a bit from the formula to exciting and energizing effect. It's a worthy series entry that manages that tricky balance of providing enough of what long-time fans expect while also bringing a unique reflection and perspective to the well-known property.

Much of the "Halloween" franchise — at least the installments that are frequently considered the best of the bunch — mine the experiences of Laurie Strode for suspense and character identification. And rightfully so, given that she's the very embodiment of the "final girl" archetype in horror films chosen to represent the virtues and viewpoint of the audience. But there are only so many novel ways to convey her experience, and "Halloween Kills" feels a bit like a nodding acknowledgment that the series cannot just turn to Jamie Lee Curtis and her iconography as a "get out of jail free" card. She's not a renewable resource.

Laurie might be the most prominent target of Michael Myers, but she's far from the only one. The entirety of Haddonfield, Illinois — a fictional idyllic Middle American small town — has borne witness to his intermittent bursts of terror. "Halloween Kills" acknowledges that such a legacy imprints itself on the psyche of a people. Some of the film's most impressive moments come from seeing just how widely Michael charts the life course of characters beyond just the series' leading lady. Even if he just represents an urban legend to some Haddonfield residents, they have internalized the indiscriminate evil to a startling extent.

This isn't just Laurie's fight, "Halloween Kills" suggests. All of society must do their part to stamp out the villainy in their midst. When it becomes clear that their terrorizer has resurfaced, Haddonfield residents led by Anthony Michael Hall's Tommy Doyle quickly mobilize to put an end to his reign of fear once and for all. The film showcases both the strengths and shortcomings of communities forged in trauma. Collective action gives them strength in numbers against their adversary, especially given the way Michael preys on the solitary and defenseless. Though with tensions running high, that solidarity can quickly sublimate to vigilantism and mob justice.

It's easy to see why panic sets in so quickly among the town — this particular iteration of Michael Myers is notably more gruesome. The "Halloween" franchise, like any long-running horror series, tends to refract societal notions of evil through the funhouse mirror of genre. Michael is an illogical but existential threat, tough to vanquish because he's so nebulously defined. It's a slippery concept because filmmakers can bend his nature at their will. But when a character can be everything, it becomes quite a thrill to see what they choose.

In "Halloween Kills," David Gordon Green seems to hold longer on the brutal murders of ordinary citizens than in previous installments. Where artful cutaways let the viewer's brain fill in the gaps of his killings, Green leaves little to the imagination here. Michael stabs his victims multiple more times than necessary. He jams his fingers into eye sockets and holds them there. The violence feels cruel, targeted, and quite methodical. He's beyond inescapable here. He's truly inhumane.

After four years in America summed up astutely by journalist Adam Serwer's book title – "The Cruelty Is the Point" – this manifestation of Michael Myers feels quite fitting for the time of its release. "Halloween Kills" does not gleefully delight in the sight of blood and gore. The cleverness of the kills is always the first entry point into the film, but the way Green lingers on the absolute barbarism of Michael Myers undercuts the audience deriving any kind of cheap thrill at the expense of human life. The threats facing the world from any number of sources feel relentless, and so should the release valve of genre filmmaking.

There are some indications that Green and his co-writers view Michael as a literalization of evil's vicious circle. By some characters' postulation, he's driven even further into his depravity by the unempathetic treatment he receives by supposedly good people. It's an intriguing evolution of the character's psychology, albeit one somewhat flimsily substantiated here. Perhaps with more runway, this trilogy can complete the thought.

Where "Halloween Kills" stumbles is when it gets heavy-handed in setting up the forthcoming sequel "Halloween Ends." After a strong first two acts, Green slips back into some pratfalls of cinematic universes — namely, using the valuable real estate of one film to establish the next. The third act is prone to heavy-handed monologuing and callbacks in a way that most of the film manages to avoid.

While it's a bit frustrating to see an exciting departure dip back into conventional form, there's at least some comfort in knowing that Green has ambitions to mine rich thematic territory. As Laurie telegraphs toward the film's close, the struggle is no longer in determining who is at fault for Michael's actions. It's in taking responsibility for keeping his savagery in check — as well as the intergenerational damage his murder sprees cause to Laurie's daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak).

There's good reason to be excited for how Green will bring this all to a head in his grand finale. "Halloween Kills" manages to put a playful but petrifying spin on mythology without resorting to cheap self-referentiality. He sees the series as material to interrogate, not merely venerate. If this film is any indication, there's still plenty of untouched areas for examination.

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