40 years! That’s how long it’s been since Laurie Shrode first escaped the clutches of the masked killer Michael Myers in John Carpenter’s original Halloween. In the interim the series has had its fair share of failed sequels, convoluted timelines, retcons and resurrections - not necessarily the track record one would want to have. However, even through all of the hard times, the reverence and passion for this slasher series has remained constant and for the first time it seems, the filmmakers listened. David Gordon Green’s 2018 Halloween is a superb sequel that’s as mercilous as it’s main killer. With visceral thrills, heart-stopping suspense, and genuine terror, Green is able to pull from the master himself, John Carpenter, and execute a relentless yet exciting ride to the finish. I might also add that Green crafts a fantastic edge of your seat tracking shot that follows Michael throughout his first moments on Halloween Night. This is Michael Myers unchained like we’ve never seen him before and the kills are all the more better for it.
The story picks up forty years after the events of the original as we focus in on a traumatically altered Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). Her entire life since the incident with “The Shape" has been to prepare her and her family for the inevitable return of Michael Myers. Her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), having taken all she could of Laurie’s madness, has since become estranged and kept her daughter Allyson (And Matichak) as far away from her as she could. After a prison transfer of Michael Myers goes awry, the Strodes are forced to come together to put an end to this Halloween nightmare once and for all.
Halloween manages to be more than just a slasher film, it smartly places the focus on trauma victims and the long-term effect an incident such as a deranged masked man almost butchering you and your friends would have on a person and their family. This is precisely where we find Laurie Strode - a hardened badass, who’s ruined her daughter’s childhood through endless doomsday preparation propelled by the unsettling thought of Michaels inevitable return. Jamie Lee Curtis exhibits her best portrayal of the character by finding the perfect balance between being a hardcore Riply-esque lead and a fundamentally broken woman who’s pushed her family away through her inability to move forward - unexpectedly powerful stuff for a Halloween movie, for which I applaud not only David Gordon Green, but Danny McBride as well who co-wrote the script.
Green and McBride’s script is a real highlight, telling a simple story, yet layering it with clever nods to the original 1978 film, some surprisingly great humor, and a fundamental understanding of what makes Halloween work, though introduces an odd character arc compelled by weak motivations mixed in with some classic horror cheese. However, speaking of what makes Halloween work, John Carpenter returns with his son to score the film in what is quite possibly his finest work to date. Much like the ‘78 film, the score is crucial to creating an eerie environment and it can’t be understated just how effective it is at ramping up the intensity of Michael cornering his victims. All of this adds up for an edge of your seat, utterly badass finale that packs a wicked punch. This one's just way too much fun!
Toronto International Film Festival Review: Halloween (2018)
Production Companies: Universal Pictures, Blumhouse Productions, Miramax
Director: David Gordon Green
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak
Rated R, 109 Min
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