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Halloween Review

October 21, 2018 | Posted by Joseph Lee
Halloween
8
The 411 Rating
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Halloween Review  

Cast:
*Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
*Judy Greer as Karen
*Andi Matichak as Allyson
*Will Patton as Frank Hawkins
*Nick Castle & James Jude Courtney as The Shape/Michael Myers
*Haluk Bilginer as Dr. Ranbir Sartain
*Rhian Rees as Dana Haines
*Jefferson Hall as Aaron Korey
*Toby Huss as Ray

Story: Laurie Strode comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

At this point, the timeline of Halloween is almost as confused and muddled as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Like that franchise, it also boasts on of the greatest horror films of all time as its first entry, only to be followed with a series of, at best, mixed results in the way of sequels. In the case of Michael Myers, the latest incarnation of Halloween is now the third movie in the series bearing that name, and the start of a fifth timeline overall. That’s probably why filmmakers David Gordon Green and Danny McBride opted to go the route they did, as it washes away all of the convoluted things that came before and allows them to start from scratch. No more Thorn cult, no more Busta Rhymes and no more gratuitous rape scenes leading to Michael’s escape.

The film could be considered a remake of sorts for Halloween: H20 a movie that arrived twenty years ago (feel old yet, 90s kids?) and was also an attempt to go back to basics. Like that movie, it’s the anniversary of Michael Myers’ Halloween night crime spree and we see how Laurie Strode is holding up after all that time. Both films are similar in that she’s not well. In H20, Laurie has changed her name and went into hiding, suffering from the fear that Michael will eventually come back to kill her before she finally decides to fight back. In Halloween, she’s still suffering from PTSD, but she’s more hardened by it, stockpiling weapons and a security-laden safe house that makes her ready should the Shape ever haunt her life again.

That’s where the similarities end, however. Outside of several easter eggs and nods to the other films for fans, this movie is its own animal. You don’t get much more ‘back to basics’ than this, as the 2018 incarnation of Halloween eliminates every single sequel and reboot that came before it. Not only are the more complicated aspects of Michael’s past gone, but so is the twist from Halloween 2 that has more or less defined the character since 1981. Michael Myers and Laurie Strode are no longer related, and he no longer has a desire to seek out and murder his family. This has been Michael’s driving force almost as long as he’s existed. Now he’s back to being a force of nature, killing indiscriminately because that’s what he does. It’s an admirable approach, as now everyone is in danger, not just Michael’s family and those unlucky to get in his way.

The best scene in the movie, as far as suspense and fear goes, is the start of Halloween night. It best exemplifies why this Michael should be feared, even if he’s older and out of practice. He begins to walk down the streets of Haddonfield and pick his victims on a whim, taking out several nameless people. Normally in a movie, this would be bad form as it’s just a way of upping the body count with people we don’t care about. That does happen in this movie, but this particular sequence is also chilling. It’s a long track shot following Michael as he slaughters unsuspecting people for no other reason than they were in his line of sight when he wanted to kill something. It’s similar to reports of spree killers, as Michael is truly the shark John Carpenter described him as in this moment.

When it’s time to focus on our heroine, Curtis knocks it out of the park. She’s always been a great actress, but here she’s allowed to play Laurie as a sad, tragic figure. Yes, she’s empowered and devoted to killing Michael once and for all, but she’s also given up any aspect of a normal life to do it. She’s by herself and has an estranged, at best, relationship with her daughter. Even her granddaughter, who seems to genuinely care, also tells her that she needs to get her life together. It’s a better portrayal of mental illness and the toll it takes than H20 was, which had Laurie forget she was suffering when the plot didn’t require it.

The other two leads, for the most part, do a good job with what they have. Judy Greer can play the mom role in her sleep given that’s all she’s cast in anymore (this isn’t even the first movie this year where she plays a mom). But she also gets some dramatic moments near the end that she’s able to pull off. This reviewer was also very impressed with Andi Matichak as Allyson, who was more than capable of carrying the film when she needed to. She should get her own starring role in a fresh story to really show what she can do.

When it gets to the supporting cast is where Halloween suffers. Green and McBride are no doubt fans of the original, but it seems as though they should have studied it more. When it came to the supporting cast there, you had likeable and well-written (if not fully developed) characters that it was okay to spend time with when you weren’t following the heroine. Here, most of them are disposable, even Will Patton’s police officer Frank Hawkins and the pair of podcast hosts we saw in all of the promotional material. They’re just there to drive the plot along and cross Michael’s path, and there’s no reason to care. It gets even worse when you get into Allyson’s social circle, as her friends are downright annoying and feel like they belong to some of the movies this sequel is trying to make us forget about.

That is a problem, mostly, with the script. It’s a great script and does justice to the mythology and history of Laurie and Michael, but doesn’t do much to flesh out anyone else. In that aspect, it feels like the slew of slashers Halloween spawned more than the originator it wants to be a follow-up to. Even PJ Soles had that quirk of saying “totally” all the time. At the very least do more with the babysitter friend than make her victim #11. The only other flaw is the pacing, which is more of an oddity than a detriment, and a bizarre, nonsensical twist near the end. Neither are enough to detract fully from the film, as once we get to the final battle between Laurie and Michael (and we do, as advertised), it’s everything fans hoped it would be.

Halloween is the very definition of crowd-pleaser. Longtime fans will enjoy the easter eggs (the opening credits in particular are great) and return to form for Michael and Laurie. Newer fans will enjoy a straightforward slasher that isn’t bogged down by mythology. Even if you’ve lived under a rock and haven’t seen the 1978 classic, you can still follow the events of this film. All you need to know is explained in the movie’s cold open and once the credits roll you’re good to go. With the R-rated slasher barely clinging to life in mainstream Hollywood, give Halloween your support.

8
The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Halloween is a breath of fresh air to a franchise that has been bogged down by terrible sequels and reboots over the years. It's a satisfying sequel with a terrific performance by Jamie Lee Curtis and a Michael Myers that once again feels like a threat. Fans will love the nods to continuity while everyone else will enjoy a movie that tries very hard to earn its place in a series that has been abused for so long. It's flawed and not as good as the first one, but it's probably the best sequel to it we'll ever get.
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Halloween, Joseph Lee

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