In 1978, director John Carpenter revolutionized the horror genre when he released the indie mega-hit, Halloween. Although the film spawned off a a series of highly successful sequels, they never garnered anything even close to the critical success that the original had. Forty years after its release, however, director David Gordon Green was compelled to rewrite Halloween’s history. Choosing to ignore everything that came after the original, Green brought back Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode and made a direct sequel to 1978s Halloween. The result was a true return to form for this forty-year-old franchise.
Halloween picks up exactly 40 years after the original. Michael Myers has been locked away at the Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, where Dr. Ranbir Sartain has been studying him closely trying to understand him. Laurie, for her part, has been preparing every single day of her life for Michael’s return. She lives isolated in a compound that she doesn’t leave much. Through conversations, we learn that Laurie has a daughter and granddaughter, both of whom she isn’t very close with. On the day before Halloween, Michael is set to be transferred to a maximum-security prison. During the transfer, Michael manages to make the bus he is on crash and he escapes, thus setting in motion the showdown that he and Laurie have both been waiting for.
Halloween offers a wide variety of things worth mentioning. On a pure horror level, the film delivers plenty of great scares. Green has a very unique way of extending long periods of suspense until he’s able to deliver a scare when you least expect it. This is also a savagely brutal film. While a there are plenty of kills that happen offscreen, the aftermath paints a very clear picture of what he did to his victims. In many ways, those kills are scarier than the ones we do actually see. The violence and suspense are perfectly paired with a terrific score composed by John Carpenter himself. If what you are looking for is pure horror movie violence, then you will not leave disappointed.
Despite its brutality, however, Halloween is actually much deeper than that, you just have to be able to see beyond the surface. At its core, Halloween is a family drama about what PTSD can do to the survivor of a violent attack and those closest to them. When Laurie’s story is told, we discover that she was an alcoholic whose daughter, Karen (Judy Greer), was taken away at the age of 12 for a variety of reasons. Karen resents Laurie for raising her the way she did, teaching her how to shoot a gun when she was 8 years old because Laurie wanted her to be prepared for Michael. Halloween does a beautiful job at depicting just how mentally fractured Laurie was after surviving Michael’s onslaught in 1978, and how those fractures spread into her family.
In 1978’s Halloween, Laurie reluctantly faces Michael and manages to escape him only after Dr. Loomis saves her. That is not the same Laurie as the one we encounter here. She is no longer a reluctant participant, but rather a willing one. In fact, she wants Michael to escape because she wants to be the one to kill him. She is no longer the “final girl” waiting to be saved. Instead, she is an empowered woman more than capable of caring for herself and those around her. One of the things I admired most about this film was the fact that Laurie Strode is no longer a powerless victim. She is now on an equal playing field as Michael and that plays out exquisitely well in the film’s final act.
Director David Gordon Green deserves a massive round of applause for being able to go after an iconic franchise and make one of the best films in it. This film will inevitably be compared to the original, but make no mistake about it, the new Halloween is perfectly capable of standing on its own. Green does make a lot of references to the original, and even nods to the other sequels, but he truly made this film his own. I was particularly fond of the way in which he frames certain moments to mirror scenes from the original film, only to take them in a completely different direction. The rest of the cast was fantastic, as well. It was a joy to see Jamie Lee Curtis back in Haddonfield, Illinois. Andy Matichak, who plays Laurie’s granddaughter, Allyson, seems capable of having a future in horror films, and Judy Greer has a show-stealing scene that will make you instantly cheer for her.
What ultimately makes this film be as effective and successful as it turned out to be, is the fact that it kept things simple. Michael Myers’ story is expanded on, but only slightly. Halloween is is filled with great cinematography and music that enhances the scares in the film. While it is very much an homage to what came before it, it is also its own story. 2018’s Halloween is good enough that it might just be enough to revitalize the slasher sub-genre and start a new wave of these films for a generation that has not been overexposed to them. For horror fans, this might be the beginning of something great.
|DIRECTOR:||David Gordon Green|
|RELEASE DATE:||October 19 2018|