Published on October 19th, 2018 | by Dan Nicholls0
Finally, David Gordon Green has managed to do what no one else could — make a great sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 horror classic, Halloween.
Dipping into the well of nostalgia is the way the entertainment world has been working for the past couple of years. When original stories that hit it big at the box office are few and far between, going with what’s proven is both reliable and boring. Most of these projects lack any social relevancy or storytelling hooks that make revisiting old favorite worlds worth your time in any meaningful way. The new sequel Halloween bucks this trend in high-flying fashion.
This Halloween is a night to remember – it’s really, really good. It feels considered and respectful in its execution and not like it’s just a fast cash grab. There are a few cheer-worthy moments and countless indelible images you’ll want to revisit time and time again. It will stand up on repeat viewings because it’s taking its craft seriously while making sure the audience is enjoying itself as much as possible and because it’s not completely reliant on callbacks and references. It’s fun, it’s scary, it’s deep; this one’s got it all.
Halloween (2018) is only problematic when it comes to its actual title – it’s not to be confused with Halloween (1978) or Rob Zombie’s dreadful Halloween (2007). It’s a shame the film doesn’t have a title that’s wholly its own because the movie itself deserves singularity in the pantheon of this franchise.
It’s been 40 full years since the night of the “Babysitter Murders” that has loomed ominously over the town of Haddonfield, Illinois. Disturbed murderer Michael Myers is locked up behind bars waiting for his chance to break free and finish what he started. His lone surviving victim, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), has also been biding her time waiting for the same moment. They’re on a collision course with each other that’s written in the stars and when they are reunited the screen screams to life.
It’s time to break the objective walls because horror, like comedy, is a highly subjective genre. Scary movies are delivery mechanisms for bolts of adrenaline and terror and what frightens one person might put another to sleep. But I loved the experience of Halloween in every way: the scares are sharp, the laughs are used sparingly but always on point, and there’s an actual emotional core that makes the story itself compelling. This is really a movie about how trauma can continue to haunt victims for decades while spreading like a disease to the anyone in their orbit. It is first and foremost the story of a survivor and it’s easy to apply its themes to this 2018 era of reckoning.
There will be some people who will scoff at the evolution of Laurie Strode but writing her off as simply Sarah Conner in Terminator 2 is missing the whole point. She’s strong, fierce, and physically and mentally committed to her goal of one day killing Michael for good. But she’s also emotionally crippled and barely holding it together. She shows us the best and worst characteristics that her trauma has branded her with. Curtis is a force to be reckoned with, boldly stepping up her game and inviting vulnerability into her performance in a way that’s a new high-water mark for the final girls of future genre flicks.
Some table setting to tee up Michael’s inevitable tour of murder takes its time to establish new characters Karen (Judy Greer) and Allyson (Andi Matichak), Laurie’s daughter and granddaughter, respectively. Each have matured differently given the degrees of separation from Laurie’s intense paranoia and defensive training but they’re both marred by the spectre of violence that’s hung over them their entire lives. Greer in particular gets some moments to seize the spotlight in the film’s third act while Matichak makes a more traditionally frightened woman-in-danger.
Director/co-writer David Gordon Green proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is a true master of cinema arts. His eclectic list of credits ranges from the heartbreaking masterpiece George Washington to the stoner staple Pineapple Express. Green doesn’t confine his interests to one particular sandbox and his first foray into straight-up horror is made with reverence and a genius eye for technical detail. Long zoom lenses give the picture a real 70’s feel and make modern touches (like a particularly frightening Steadicam single take) all the more effective.
Violence and gore flows but it isn’t over-the-top indulgence. There are actually a handful of notable instances where murders occur off screen, something sort of refreshing in this more is more climate. It still delivers the slasher goods, make no mistake about that, and the body count is significantly higher than it was in the first film from 1978. For horror lovers, Halloween checks all the boxes. It’s even got a retro score co-composed by John Carpenter himself that amps up the chilling atmosphere.
Screenwriters Jeff Fradley, Danny McBride, and David Gordon Green make the wise choice to eschew all other sequels in the series and create continuity only with the one that started it all. This is going to make the movie that much more accessible to audiences who aren’t aware of such deep cuts as 1988’s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers or Busta Rhymes trick-or-treating a motherfucker in Halloween: Resurrection. This new Halloween cuts to the meat of what captivated us from the start and dials its focus in on what drives these two people who are connected by one fateful night four decades prior.
This is a great movie and a feather in the cap of horror sequels. Indulge your sweet tooth and munch down on this bag of treats with a theater full of people looking to share a bunch of screams.