Halloween is the eleventh entry in the franchise, the third entitled Halloween, and the second direct sequel to John Carpenter’s original. With David Gordon Green at the helm of the project, he abandons most of the series continuity to focus on the aftermath of the ’78 film and the PTSD that Micheal Myers victims carry.

The latest entry in the Halloween franchise is both a heartfelt love letter to the original film as well as a unique, standalone story after years of obscurity. It’s filled with sharp twist and turns from the original slasher movie blueprint given by the 1978 classic, but it also carefully incorporates the perfect amount of retreads and tributes that comes off as respectful rather than overpowering. By striking the perfect balance between two contradictory concepts, director David Gordon Green delivered the dangerous task altering with what is viewed as a Hollywood classic into a truly special horror sequel.

Set exactly 40 years after the John Carpenter original, this new Halloween provides a retcon and acts as if none of the other sequels happened (like every true horror movie fan). What did happen was a continuation of the original classic, as we bare witness to a man named Michael Myers killing a bunch of kids, leaving behind a lone survivor named Laurie Strode. Strode was deeply traumatized by the experience and spent the next four decades mentally preparing for when, not if Michael makes his inevitable return.

Years of fear and paranoia have drained Laurie (played once again by horror queen Jamie Lee Curtis), and now she’s very much isolated. Shattered psychologically by the events that took place four decades prior, she is divorced, she drinks, her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) resents her, her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) lacks a real relationship with her and the last thing she wants to think about is her family when she suspects Micheal is on his way home.

Jamie Lee Curtis is fantastic in her return to the role that catapulted her film career, never softening this older Laurie’s edges while still maintaining the softness her original run as the character produced. Laurie is willing to be hated by her loved ones if that’s what it will take to keep them alive. In many ways, Laurie has learned how to emulate Micheal Myers herself, willing to make the hard decisions in order to protect her family. This makes Laurie a flawed character (always the most interesting kind) as well as an empowered one, combining intensity with vulnerability to deliver an empowering performance.

Greer and Matichak are both solid in their respective roles as the latter generations of Strode women who have rhave to deal with Laurie’s self destruction in their own ways. One is a middle-aged woman trying to grasp onto some light in her life for herself and her daughter, is just a kid trying to forge a relationship with her troubled grandmother that feels genuine.

This Halloween deals with trauma and being able to overcome internal fears. Each primary character has their own problems, but the film is structured so we mostly see them through Laurie’s eyes or reacting to Laurie’s character. In doing that, both daughter and granddaughter are intertwined with Laurie’s sympathy and strength,  creating very believable, realistic characters.

The strong performances across the board encourage the audience to feel emotionally invested in the characters, and as a result, the scares are that much more effective. Halloween isn’t quite as terrifying as the original film, but the tension throughout is extremely similar- providing the film with the highest of compliments. From the very first scene, Green utilizes similar camera angles, editing, lighting (or lack thereof), and use of iconic eerie music all work to build suspense.

Sharing writing credits with Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley, Green delivers a slickly packaged modern slasher that balances dry humour(Danny McBride’s signature) with genre cliches that don’t compromise the movie. There are plenty of homages to the first film, creating a nostalgic experience that plastered a smile across my face throughout the runtime of the film. From the signature floating shots that follow Michael’s killing spree to Carpenter’s iconic musical score is revisited here by the legend himself in collaboration with his son, Cody Carpenter, and godson Daniel Davies.

Green elevated the film from a good film to a great film, as he conjures terror, emotion, smart self-awareness, and comedy all at once. The film’s visuals and sound maintain the exact blend of bluntness that made the original (and its killer) terrifying. The sound design is heavy, chunky, and hollow, combining classic themes with newer, darker material. The detail in Michael’s William Shatner mask has weathered and cracked throughout the years, and in turn  it shows with how visceral and surreal some of the kills are(even if some are blatant rip offs/”homages” to the original series).The Halloween franchise is not known for gore, but this film effectively balances dread with gore to create a euphoric cinematic experience.

Although he provides a directorial clinic,Green fumbles away the ending. It would be tasteless to spoil it, but this film unfortunately brings one of the worst third act twists in recent memory. You might be inclined to believe a massacre lays at the end between its central characters that fans have been anticipating for four decades, but rather than delivering some juicy fan service, the culmination feels rather lackluster. I walked into “Halloween” wanting to feel the magic of the original again in some form. And I did, in some way or another. David Gordon Green and Danny McBride seem to have  a finger on the pulse, providing a solid foundation for future(and inevitable) sequels.

Grade:A-

Ananth Para
paramana@mcmaster.ca

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *