“Halloween”- Movie Review

It’s crazy to think how big an impact a simple movie about a masked serial killer who goes around stalking babysitters on Halloween night has made on an entire genre. But that’s a feat that John Carpenter’s 1978 slasher film pulled off. Elements of it have become ingrained in our popular culture- Michael Myers himself, Carpenter’s score, the trope of killing off the promiscuous characters and leaving the virginal one as the lone survivor. The countless continuations that spawned from it haven’t been well-received, but the latest installment just might put the series back on track.

The opening shot of 2018’s Halloween is a perfect metaphor for the movie your about to see. A smashed pumpkin slowly rises and reverts back to its original form, all while Carpenter’s iconic theme plays and the opening credits flash appear on-screen in vibrant orange color. After that, we’re dropped right back into Haddonfield, Illinois. Forty years have passed since the events of the 1978 original. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee-Curtis) lives alone in a heavily guarded house, struggling with post-traumatic stress and anticipating Michael Myers’s (Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney) eventual return. On Halloween night, she gets her wish. A bus transporting Myers and other dangerous prisoners crashes, and Michael is nowhere among the wreckage. He’s on the loose, ready to once again make his murderous rounds in Haddonfield.

Before I go any further, I have a confession to make: I haven’t seen any of the Halloween sequels. None of them. All I know is that Halloween 2 is supposed to be pretty decent, one of them is named after water, and another has a scene where Busta Rhymes karate-kicks Michael Myers through a window. So I can’t really attest to whether or not David Gordon Green’s iteration is a return to form for the series. I’ll leave that up for the die-hard fans to decide. What I will say is despite its heavy similarity in plot to the original, 2018’s Halloween is still an entertaining slasher flick in its own right.

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A few people had a hand in penning the script- the director himself, Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley. It’s obvious the writers have a deep respect for both the original and the slasher sub-genre as a whole. While it never reaches the point of being absolutely terrifying, the film does manage to deliver a couple good scares. Yet the creepiest parts are the moments that linger- scenes in which Michael Myers calmly goes from house to house making his kills, violence that’s implied in the background, Myers standing in the distant darkness staring at his victims. The effectiveness of these scenes is elevated by the film’s pacing, which keeps the suspense building to a satisfying climax.

Jamie Lee-Curtis shines as a Sarah-Connor-ed up version of Laurie Strode. Her performance exudes an even blend of strength and vulnerability. You’re quick to empathize with her because she’s believable as someone who’s struggling with trauma, and every time she’s on-screen you’re rooting for her survival. The characters surrounding her don’t leave quite as big of an impression. They often succumb to the dumb-character trope that’s a common staple of slasher movies, but for the most part, they’re tolerable. Andi Matichak is decent as Laurie’s granddaughter. Judy Greer is fine is some parts, but in others her line delivery comes off as either whiny or incredibly bland.

Halloween 2018 is gruesome fun, despite its obvious narrative repeats. It sticks to a style that’s normally used in traditional slasher films. At the same time, however, it does play around with different ideas. The story could have been enriched by more twists and turns, but as is, the film has enough to offer for anyone looking for a quick thrill this Halloween season.

Cosmic Grade- 3.7/5 Stars

 

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