For years, the Halloween franchise has been regarded as a broken home. While John Carpenter’s original 1978 classic is still hailed as being a milestone feature for the horror genre, its subsequent sequels, helmed by various others, soured the franchise to the point where it looked as if it was put down for good. Out of the darkness however comes a shining light when David Gordon Green announced plans to film a sequel — one that this franchise deserved. Utilizing 1978’s Halloween and ignoring all the films that come after it, Green broke the series down to its essential elements. 2018’s Halloween is not a remake or a reboot, instead acting as a tribute to the original film while also modernizing the narrative of Halloween. It makesfor a truly haunting and terrifying cinematic experience.
It’s been 40 years since Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) survived a vicious attack from crazed killer Michael Myers on Halloween night. Locked up in a mental nstitution, Myers manages to escape when his bus transfer goes horribly wrong. Laurie now faces a terrifying showdown when the masked madman returns to Haddonfield, Ill. — but this time, she’s ready for him.
What makes Halloween such an intriguing film is its well executed subversion of expectations. Green, along with co-writers Jeff Fradley and Danny McBride, take the same high-concept structure from the first film and add on a new context. The film does not shy away from including homages and references to the past but Green always puts some kind of new spin on it, allowing for an incredibly fresh take on the age-old movie slasher that is Michael Myers. Much like Star Wars: The Force Awakens back in 2015, Halloween reminds viewers not only why they fell in love with the film in the first place, but also plays well with its new audience. A younger one that has been dealt a more saturated film industry and has – in some regard – “seen it all.” But, just when you think Halloween steers towards common horror tropes, Green’s masterful directing is there to remind you that this will not, nor will it ever be, your average horror flick.
Its dedication to crafting a unique horror experience is reminiscent of films such as IT and A Quiet Place. Where IT doubled as a horror and coming-of-age story and A Quiet Place acted as an example of fierce family protection, Halloween aims to deal with how individuals process drama. Laurie Strode was an innocent girl with no real life experience who faced the true embodiment of evil in 1978. She survived a brutal assault and life went on. No help, no therapy and no one there to be by her side. Flashforward 40 years later and present day Laurie Strode has become a woman who lives in a compound, comsidered to be the freak of Haddonfield. But, in all that trauma, Laurie is resilient and self-reliant. She’s prepared for the imevitable day Michael returns home. With no one there for her, Laurie learned to be the strongest version of herself she could be but at the same time, it was at the cost of a normal life. Halloween superbly showcases the toll a horrific experience like this could have on someone if it remains unchecked. But Laurie Strode remains a role model to people everywhere, demonstrating that, even at the brink, evil never wins.
Jamie Lee Curtis is fantastic in her return to the role that skyrocketed her film career, never softening this older Laurie’s edges or undermining her ferocious principles. She truly is the heart of the franchise and this film acts as sort of a redemption for the character following Curtis’ “big” returns as Strode in Halloween: H20 and Halloween: Resurrection. Beneath all her hardened skin, Laurie still is an incredibly sympathetic character. Curtis combines strength with exposure here as a broken soul who will not ever be whole again until her monster is finally dead.
On the supporting side, Judy Greer stars as Karen, daughter of Laurie. As a mother herself, Karen has opted to look for the brighter side of life, always trying to show her mother that it is okay to smile and allow yourself to relax. Greer is solid in the role and, while her character could have benefited from the writers fleshing out her arc more, is a welcome addition to the franchise, bringing some levity to the incredibly dark story. Andi Matichak stars as Allyson, daughter of Karen and granddaughter of Laurie, rounding out the three generations of Strode women. Unlike her mother, Allyson has fallen in line more with her grandmother as she consistently tries to forge some sort of relationship with the heavily guarded Laurie. Matichack churns out an incredibly surprising and down-to-earth performance in which she steals almost every scene she is present for. Allyson represents the future of the family and is the prime example of how opening yourself up can in fact allow you to deal with your problems.
Perhaps the most important aspect that Halloween thrives in is that it beautifully brings back the unrelenting, terrifying atmosphere that John Carpenter and Debra Hill conjured up back in 1978. Set to a score that John Carpenter himself assisting in crafting, this film is as scary and insanely more graphic than its predecessor, at times never allowing the characters – or audience – to come up for a breath.
Michael has returned to being a silent monster, hell-bent on causing mayhem and terror for the night’s babysitters. Green and his cinematographer Michael Simmonds rely comprehensively on suspense filmmaking techniques that Carpenter once employed but also approach this film with a low-budget flair. It is a simple premise with a simple setting and, with some help from impactful sound design, Green manages to take full advantage of it to craft the most mysterious and scary atmosphere possible.
Halloween is back. This is the film that the franchise has been waiting for since Carpenter left. The story is petrifying, the acting is incredible and its message of processing trauma and female empowerment will resonate with audiences worldwide. David Gordon Green has restored the heart of the franchise with excellently constructed scares and even comedy to help alleviate the tension. In a time where the horror genre is at an all-time high in terms of quality, Halloween continues this trend, becoming one of the most entertaining and frightening times you will have at the movie theatre this year.
Rating – 8.5/10
Halloween is in theatres everywhere now.