Halloween (2018)
Halloween (2018)

Genre: Slasher Running Time: 1 hr. 46 min.

Release Date: October 19th, 2018 MPAA Rating: R

Director: David Gordon Green Actors: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Haluk Bilginer, Will Patton, Rhian Rees, Jefferson Hall, Toby Huss, Virginia Gardner, Dylan Arnold, Miles Robbins, Drew Scheid

 


 

E

ver since her encounter with malevolent juggernaut Michael Myers so many years ago, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has been preparing herself for his inevitable return. But this focus on the long-imprisoned (nearly 40 years) terrorizer has pushed other aspects of her life away, leaving her estranged from her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). When Myers escapes captivity during a prison bus accident, he quickly resumes his savage killing spree. On Halloween night, the streets of Haddonfield will once again be littered with the corpses of those who stand between him and his ultimate prey.

“Underestimate no one.” The opening sequence, which eventually segues into familiar title graphics and John Carpenter’s recognizable theme music, is an amusing exercise in anticipation. Unlike many modern horror films (as well as actioners and more), this picture begins with a slow build; rather than the typical cold open, boasting a ruckus of scares, “Halloween” opts to create an atmosphere of dread. It’s thoroughly refreshing when characters and a tone are established long before violence crowds the frame.

Of course, there is indeed a smorgasbord of new victims, including several Strode family members, but the terrorization has shifted into something more nuanced and purposeful. It actually takes about 45 minutes before the first truly graphic bit of carnage occurs. This initial restraint does wonders for the eventual onslaught, providing a contrast rarely seen in this genre. And many deaths take place offscreen, which are largely more disturbing and effective than the ones that show all the mutilative details.

“Say goodbye to Michael and get over it.” Laurie is now something of a Sarah Connor, having sacrificed a normal relationship with her daughter for exhaustive training and preparation for an unavoidable reunion with the serial killer who traumatized her decades earlier. For the first time in many “Halloween” movie iterations, the protagonist is a relatable figure whom audiences will surely root for; previous episodes tended to glorify the towering “Shape,” merely lining up random personas for brutal slayings. Here, the three generations of strong women at the center of the torment nicely prevent Myers from having all the fun.

Nevertheless, countless other roles assume the standard of behaving recklessly or idiotically. People still tend to wander down dark alleys alone; Myers participates in contrived escapes or magically eludes the authorities in order to push into a shot from a completely different direction (he lurks slowly, but disappears and reappears like a ninja); and characters receive distinct personalities, mostly through dialogue, only to have their storylines cut short by an untimely demise (this helps with maintaining a level of unexpectedness, but will cause viewers to question why they invested in these roles in the first place). This is the kind of movie that will have audiences yelling at the screen in frustration as prospective victims make classic mistakes.

Through the scripting (notably written in part by Danny McBride), comic relief turns up intermittently, though it’s not in the cleverest of ways; rather than mixing the humor into the murders, characters engage in comical conversations, as if participating in some other project. “Halloween” actually pauses to let these roles crack jokes, only to have them perish almost immediately afterwards. Still, a good percentage of the jump scares are engaging, while Myers’ signature stalking – most divertingly conducted during broad daylight – provides dependable tension. And a few twists spice up the repetition. Still, this endeavor would have been far more compelling had there not been so many prior theatrical chapters and remakes (it pretends that only the 1978 version is canonical, which oddly means that the sequel to “Halloween” is also “Halloween”); there’s just not enough originality to justify its existence, save for satiating (or perhaps pandering to) fans of the franchise.

– The Massie Twins

  • 6/10