Release Date: October 19, 2018
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: David Gordon Green
Release Format: Theatrical
You needn’t go far to find failed reboots/remakes/reimaginings of classic movie franchises, as they are a dime a dozen these days. Hollywood’s fascination with igniting fan nostalgia for franchises of yesteryear doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. However, director David Gordon Green’s Halloween is an outlier, proving that with enough care and reverence, a decades-old franchise can indeed become relevant again.
Halloween takes an interesting tactic in that it completely ignores all Halloween sequels that have come before, and instead places the characters 40 years to the date after the first film. This works to the film’s, and audience’s, benefit as it throws away whatever convoluted storylines and lore that have sprouted up over the years to solely place the focus on the return of the terrifying Michael Myers.
And boy is he terrifying. As Myers continually stalks and terrorizes the poor citizens of Haddonfield, his kills become more gruesome and oddly supernatural, as he shows strength and resilience that is unlike any normal man. While it was satisfying seeing Myers pull off such grotesque attacks, as the movie wore on, his abilities started to enter the mythological territory, which took me a little out of the film. I understand that that the mysteriousness of Myers is what makes the character, but at some points, his brute strength seemed a touch unbelievable, even for a psychologically insane and downright evil man.
However, none of that takes away from the tension of each attack and Green crafts each brutal scene is delivered in a different way than before, ensuring that every kill is a treat for the audience to gasp, laugh, and wince at. There’s something especially stomach-turning watching someone get curbed-stomped no matter how many violent slasher movies you have seen.
As far as the characters go, I never really sensed a dull one in the bunch, save one character who mysteriously is never seen again despite seeming to be an important side character. The cast plays off of each other well, with Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode an exceptional standout. Yes, she is a badass like the trailers depict her to be, and she has more than one moment that is worth cheering out loud for. Curtis sells her character’s struggles of PTSD and the trauma that Myers’ initial terrorization caused her. This is a woman who has been preparing every moment of her life for the inevitable return of Myers and her skills and preparation of even her own home do not disappoint.
Laurie Strodes’ daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) are great additions to the cast but ultimately serve very little purpose in the end. Both have a solid moment towards the end of the film that I won’t spoil here, but it was not enough for me to really care what happened to them.
One character I was pleasantly surprised with is Jibrail Nantambu who plays Julian. His role isn’t particularly noteworthy in the grand scheme of the plot but this youngster makes each and every moment he’s got worth it. I didn’t expect to laugh as much as I did during Halloween, and that is mostly thanks to him. I expect I’ll be seeing him in many upcoming comedies.
Speaking of comedy, Halloween has a surprising amount, and it definitely helped to alleviate all the moments of tension that I felt I was being bombarded with. Too many horror films have just piled on the dread with nary a laugh to be felt, so it was a relief to find that Halloween was not one of those films. Horror films need moments of levity in between the brutal bouts of gore not just to relieve us of our dread but to make the characters more relatable. Halloween does that with an ease not seen often in the horror genre.
James Jude Courtney and a returning Nick Castle from the 1978 original, play ‘The Shape’, a.k.a. Michael Myers, and even after 40 years, both actors ensure that Myers does not miss a beat. His stalking is swift, his boots are big, heavy, and terrifying, and his iconic mask will once again haunt your nightmares.
Verdict: Few franchises return with a bang, but Halloween pulls it off with such grace you wonder why people had to suffer through middling sequels to get to this point. David Gordon Green and Danny McBride have written a slasher with the necessary gore and jump-scares but also with the heart and humor needed to alleviate all the dread. While the camp is a little too much, particularly when it comes to boneheaded character choices, and Michael Myers’ seemingly god-like strength, the film as a whole doesn’t suffer from it. Against all odds, the Halloween franchise has returned and has the feeling of a reignited energy that very few classic film series can boast. In the end, the film has its campy moments but it will nonetheless charm you all the way through to its bombastic conclusion. If nothing else, John Carpenter’s excellent Halloween theme will linger with you long after the credits roll. Not a bad way to celebrate the holiday.
- Michael Myers is deliciously terrifying
- The cast play off each other well
- The humor is mostly on point and serves to alleviate the dread
- Jamie Lee Curtis lives up to her badass character
- Michael Myers' abilities are a tad too superhuman which can take you out of the film
- Many characters, aside from Laurie Strode, seem underutilized