Halloween slashes competitors
Jeff Lamson – Arts & Entertainment Editor
“Halloween” is the second-best film in a 40-year franchise, spanning 10 films and five different timelines.
This 2018 direct sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 classic slasher of the same title, picks up the story 40 years later and ignores all others in the series besides the original. It follows Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) who despite some efforts to move on with her life has doubled down on Michael Myers (Nick Castle & James Jude Courtney) being the embodiment of pure evil, much like Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) in the original.
She has alienated most of her family with her obsession and has built a fortress out of her home in the woods.
Curtis is fantastic in this film, despite some lines of hokey dialogue, I completely believed in her conviction. This is one version of how Laurie’s character could have progressed after the events of the first film and the way she went about training herself, and her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) threw off major Terminator 2 Sarah Connor vibes.
Greer in many ways plays the same kind of character she always plays, but there is a real sense of how her characters upbringing affected her into adulthood.
The plot is simple at first, in a transfer to a new, permanent facility, the bus crashes and Myers is loose. The film does not hesitate to show you how brutal this film will be, having the first on screen death being a bit of a shocker.
Myers goes out and adds to his body count over and over, and the way most of these sequences are done is fantastic. Myers is in the background or blending in perfectly well with his surroundings.
But, as the story moves on, different character dynamics bring those characters’ arcs to a head resulting in some genuine twists and turns that added some much appreciated intrigue. The way that the roles of hunter and hunted flip so seamlessly between Laurie and Myers at times is seemless and riveting. At these moments the film feels like a well-executed “versus” movie. There are even direct references to this idea evoked through shot-composition.
Also important to note is the film’s directing. While very conventional at times, when director David Gordon Green is going for high stakes tension, he pulls it off brilliantly. In the climax, there is a brilliant sequence in which Laurie is narrowing down the places where Myers can be, one by one, until the audience is almost certain where Myers is. And then, just when the suspense is at its highest, the audiences expectations are subverted and the ensuing payoff is completely gratifying.
The only really glaring issue with the film is the subplot that serves as an introduction and recap for the story following a pair of investigative journalists. While this purpose needed to be served somehow, these characters were not very engaging and all said do not service the plot beyond helping the audience understand where they in this universe.
“Halloween” feels like a film that was taken very seriously by the filmmakers. They did not want to go so far away from the original that it comes off inconsequential, but they also did not want to ape the original so much that it faces the same kinds of issues that some have with “The Force Awakens.”
It is a respectful return to characters that are part of the pop culture social iconography and definitely a film worth visiting and revisiting. It is the best slasher film in years, second in the franchise only to the original.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore