RELEASED: October 19th 2018
DIRECTED BY: David Gordon Green
WRITTEN BY: Jeff Fradley, David Gordon Green & Danny McBride
PRODUCED BY: Malek Akkad, Jason Blum & Bill Block
MUSIC BY: John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter & Daniel Davies
STARRING: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner & Nick Castle
I’ve never used to be a fan of horror movies. When I was younger, I didn’t see the appeal, but in more recent years, I’ve tried to catch up for lost time, taking the ’31 Days of Horror’ challenge both this year and last. Through that, I watched the original Halloween for the first time last week. I thought it was fine; Michael Myers was creepy, the story was conventional by today’s standards but interesting in how it spawned multiple slasher tropes.
Jump forward to this week (or forty years later, depending on how you look at it) and Halloween has returned to cinemas for the eleventh time. This new movie ignores the events of every film bar that 1978 original, and sees Michael Myers, having spent those forty years back in captivity, escape once again and return to Haddonfield for another killing spree. Standing in his way is PTSD-ridden ‘Final Girl’ Laurie Strode, who has been training in the interim for a final showdown with ‘the Shape’.
I found the story to be pretty strong. There are references to the other films that I haven’t seen, but they weren’t so in-your-face that I couldn’t get through without being caught up in not understanding them. The most obvious one (that I did get) is, of course, the question of their familial relationship, which is discarded early on in this movie. With all the baggage from the previous films only touched upon in reference form, it allows this new film to move forward unfettered by a strict and ridiculous continuity, telling a familiar, yet original story that, in my opinion, makes it better than the original.
Again, I only saw the original last week so it holds no special place in my heart.
As such, I never really bought the hype around the soundtrack, but in watching this film, I thought it really shone through. It mixes the classic tune with some more intense, scarier vibes that meant this was a movie that sounded as great as it looked (and it’s pretty good looking movie).
A particular highlight of the film is without a doubt Jamie Lee Curtis. She sells this broken, yet capable character so well, jumping from breakdowns to badassery effortlessly. Her acting finesse really carries the film, and the most interesting parts of the movie are when it’s either focused on her character, or that of Michael. Both feel more fleshed out and, in Laurie’s case, natural. She’s not hampered by 80s dialogue and life choices, but feels reminiscent of real-life people who have taken a lot of shit in their lives. The extended Strode family are also welcome additions to the cast. Although Judy Greer is perhaps a tad underutilised, she has some great moments, and there’s one point near the end where she really shines. Similarly, her on-screen daughter, played by Andi Matichak, is also a very enjoyable presence, and one that could, if needs be, carry this franchise forwards.
Michael, as I said, is obviously also a highlight. While it’s debatable how scary he is after ten major film appearances, this film reasserts an air of mystery about him, and so he definitely retains that level of creepiness he had forty years ago, and the sheer brutality of his kills is both shocking and, in a rather dark way, awesome.
However, the nine prior films being wiped from continuity does make me wonder how a sixty-one year old man, having spent aproximately fifty five of those years behind bars, is as strong, fast and durable as Myers is. Also, I still don’t get where he learned to drive a car. For most people, I imagine these won’t be pressing issues, but it was thoughts like that that made me realise although this is generally a good horror film, I never felt all that enthralled by what was going on. When a murder sequence came up, I dug it, but I was always very aware that I was just watching a movie. I could appreciate the characters, the story, the brutality and the gore, but it never took hold of me in the way truly great movies do.
Fortunately, it is still an entertaining movie. The script, co-written by comedy actor Danny McBride, has some very amusing moments, and you find yourself closer to a lot of the side characters in a way that you wouldn’t usually take to people of such little importance to the narrative.
Julian in particular was my favourite. You’ll understand when you see the film.
All-in-all, I give Halloween: