Halloween (2018) Movie Review - Spoiler Free
A celebration of John Carpenter & his vision that revolutionised the genre! Michael Myers returns more ferociously than ever!
Genre: Horror / Thriller
Director: David Gordon Green
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Haluk Bilginer, Toby Huss, Dylan Arnold, James Jude Courtney & Nick Castle.
Run Time: 109 min.
US Release: 27 October 2018
UK Release: 25 January 2018
German Release: 06 July 2018
It is my favourite time of the year boys and girls! The Halloween season is upon us, so what better way to celebrate it, than to talk about the newest direct sequel to the slasher from 1978, bearing the name of the holiday once again. In anticipation of this release, I reviewed the original one early this month, saving my critical analysis of the new movie for Halloween night. So strap on to your chairs and let’s begin this thrill ride!
Forty years after Laurie Strode’s confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure has haunted her ever since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night. Myers has been locked up since that night but manages to escape during a prisoner transfer, starting his killing spree anew. Laurie, now prepared, goes on the hunt to end her nightmare forever.
The biggest surprise is that this new sequel was written by Danny McBride and director David Gordon Green. The duo is somewhat known for their comedy flicks, however, by now many artists coming from a comedic background prove that they are very adept at horror. This is also true of the newest Halloween, which takes the franchise back to its original recipe, with far fewer jump scares yet more suspensefully spooky thrills. This latest instalment retconned all previous sequels, tying directly to Carpenter’s classic from ‘78.
The greatest angle of the screenplay, is the focus on post-traumatic stress and paranoia, depicting how it can derail one’s life if left untreated. It also blends in good with the overall horror aspect of this follow-up, becoming a light character study of both Laurie, as well as Michael. The creepy, stalkerish tone that is brought back, pays homage to some of the scenes from the original, with slight twists. The kills, on the other hand, are much more brutal, including a higher body count. The few frightening jolts implemented are well-earned!
The script has, nonetheless, some imperfections that did stick out. For one, the side plot revolving around Loomis’ replacement and student Dr. Ranbir Sartain, takes a little too much screen time, with a revelation coming out of the blue. Compared to the rest of the narrative, this part felt clumsily handled.
While mostly okayish, a lot of the dialogue scenes are a little over-the-top. Be it the description of Michael Myers himself by Laurie Strode, or the high school romance. It can be a little on the nose with its dramatisation.
Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode, with the character basically given the Sarah Connor treatment. She is a well-written, strong character not because she is kick-ass, but because she is flawed. She has trouble connecting with her family, suffering from PTSD plus paranoia, yet makes the active choice to face "The Shape" once again when he escapes a second time, to protect the ones she loves. Characters like that, are what intrigue audiences. Curtis gives once again a great rendition of this iconic persona.
Judy Greer was cast as Karen, Laurie’s daughter who suffered all her childhood from her mother’s delusions and agoraphobia. Believing that her mother is a basket case, she is trying to keep her away from her family, not shying away from lying to her daughter. Greer was good as Karen, selling the despise for how Laurie treated her during her childhood. She also proved to be more than her appearance led to believe.
Andi Matichak makes her big-screen debut as Allyson Nelson, Karen's daughter and Laurie's granddaughter. Allyson was raised in a safe environment, away from her grandmother’s traumas. Though she is curious about her and wishes to stay in contact. Matichak gave a very charismatic rendition, with her appearance reminiscent of a young Curtis.
Michael Myers, once again portrayed by Nick Castle, as well as James Jude Courtney, still is a force to be reconned with. Castle and Courtney both portray him with a threatening standing posture, which sends shivers down viewers' backs.
Halloween contains one of the best introductory scenes, with a hard cut jumping into the black opening credit displaying the title. Once the prominent musical score begins, a decomposed pumpkin slowly starts coming back to life. From that moment onward, the audience knows what to expect! The cinematography by Michael Simmonds included a light touch of film grain, tributing the classic cinematography. It also contains a beautiful one-shot sequence, during Myers’ renewed killing spree in Haddonfield. It is mesmerising to look at!
Effects are a mix between practical and CG. While the practical gore looks real and scary, especially because the kills are more violent than in the original, the computer effects can look a little shady at times. The costume design for Michael is kept typical, though his mask has a worn-out look, which makes it more frightening.
John Carpenter returns with his son, to re-compose the classic score, giving it a modern touch, including synthesisers. The music itself still has a haunting effect! The sound design of Michael breathing through his mask, as he simply watches down on Haddonfield, is effectively creepy.
Verdict: In the end, I really enjoyed David Gordon Green’s new sequel to Carpenter’s original Halloween. The screenplay pays respect to Carpenter’s story structure, returning the series to the genre of horror-thriller. The tension is being wound-up non-stop, released in a jaw-dropping finale. It does include a side arc that is poorly written, slowing down the pacing during its second act. The dialogue, on the other hand, is the movie's weakest point. That said, Jamie Lee Curtis gives her character Laurie strength and humanity, unseen as of now. Judie Greer plus Andi Matichak conclude the casting, both giving impressive performances. Nick Castle nails it again, as the ominous presence of Michale Myers. The cinematography pays homage to Carpenter’s camera work from 1978, while the music gives the iconic track a modern twist. I give the new Halloween an 8.5 out of 10.
If you are a fan of Carpenter’s classic from ‘78, give this one a try! It is a return to form & hardcore recommendation for this Halloween season. Thank you for reading!