Film Review: Halloween

David Gordon Green’s Halloween is a hugely entertaining, surprisingly funny, mildly flawed, but mostly effective slasher, and a welcome return to form for both Michael Myers (Nick Castle and James Jude) and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). Even though it never matches the quality of the original despite an interesting premise, its iconic leads haven’t been this great in decades.

Halloween takes place forty years after John Carpenter’s classic, ignores all the other films in the series, and follows Laurie as she prepares for the inevitable round two against her nightmarish stalker. Laurie was traumatized by her first encounter with Michael, and has spent most of her life waiting for him to escape from the sanitarium he’s been incarcerated in since that fateful night. Her house is a fortress and her aim with a revolver is great, but her obsession with protecting herself and her loved ones from the Boogeyman has put a strain on her relationship with her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). However, Laurie turns out to have been right, as her past does indeed come back to haunt her. Michael returns to Haddonfield for another night of carnage, which forces the Strodes to fight for their survival.

Halloween gets some great mileage with this new, damaged take on Laurie. A single, awful night defined the rest of her life, and this is made painfully clear when seeing her interact with her family. Laurie may have survived, but she didn’t really spend the last four decades living, and Curtis’ performance makes it easy to believe. But when all Hell breaks loose Laurie goes full-on “Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2” badass, making the cat and mouse moments between her and Michael extremely intense. Michael may be the serial killer, but Laurie seems almost as deadly this time around.

Unlike Laurie, Michael hasn’t really changed, and that’s a good thing. He may be older, but he’s still the same unfeeling, relentless, mysterious killing machine he was before the numerous sequels and reboots tried humanize him, explain his motives, give him a supernatural origin, and pit him against Busta Rhymes in one-on-one combat (that’s not a joke, it actually happened). Green and his co-writer Danny McBride took Michael back to the basics, and it worked brilliantly. He’s big, strong, creative with his kills, and scary as ever.

In addition to the expected scares, there are a few unexpected moments of humor in Halloween too. Green and McBride (who are known for movies and shows like Pineapple Express, Your Highness, and Eastbound and Down), inject their brand of humor in between the horror, and it works quite well.

What doesn’t work well are a few unnecessary, cliché scenes surrounding Allyson’s social life, and a particularly awful character twist that had me shaking my head for far too long. Halloween had been a strong, scary, and smart slasher until the aforementioned twist, so I was extremely disappointed to see something so stupid happen in the middle of it all. It wasn’t terrible enough that it ruined the entire movie for me, but it definitely stayed on my mind until the final act, which was amazing enough to get me past it.

Overall, Halloween is a mostly worthy follow-up to its legendary 1978 predecessor. It’s not perfect, but it’ll definitely please fans of the original or those looking for a great slasher flick.

 

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