He’s back. It’s been nine years since Michael Myers last graced the silver screen in Rob Zombie’s “Halloween II,” but he has returned to once again stalk and attempt to kill his earliest opponent, Laurie Strode.
David Gordon Green’s “Halloween,” released Oct. 19, while not the most fresh or innovative film to show in theaters in 2018, is nonetheless a respectable homage to John Carpenter’s 1978 classic and might satisfy viewers’ hunger for horror this Halloween season.
On the day before the 40th anniversary of the events of the first “Halloween,” Michael’s prison transfer bus crashes into a ditch, granting him and a handful of other inmates their freedom. Michael wastes no time, beginning his killing spree at the site of the accident. However, it’s not long before the law, Michael’s doctor (Haluk Bilginer) and, most hazardously to Michael, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) are after him.
This year’s “Halloween” is a direct sequel to the first, taking place 40 years afterwards — both in real time and in the movie’s universe — ignoring the other nine movies and four timelines in the franchise.
The film feels hurried, usually on account of its rapidfire bloodshed. Michael, also known as the Boogeyman or the Shape, massacres over three times as many people as he did in the 1978 original.
The movie’s copious murders and their severe brutality can only carry the audience’s attention for so long before its predictable plot comes out of the woodwork.
Writer-director David Gordon Green (“Prince Avalanche,” “George Washington”) makes up for his film’s plot deficiency by virtue of impressive cinematography and devastating suspense-building. The scene during which Michael dons his mask for the first time in 40 years and a death scene involving a wrought-iron fence are markedly exceptional instances of that powerful camera work and effective creation of tension, respectively.
“Halloween” signalizes the fourth portrayal of Laurie Strode by Jamie Lee Curtis (“True Lies,” “A Fish Called Wanda”) and it’s the most badass depiction of her yet.
“Do you know that I pray every night that he would escape?” she asks Officer Hawkins (Will Patton) before answering, “So I can kill him.”
Since that fateful Halloween night in 1978, Strode has been engineering a stronghold, familiarizing herself with an assortment of weapons, and disciplining her daughter, Karen, in the art of self-defense.
Even though Hawkins was right when he declared Strode’s desiring Michael’s breakout “a stupid thing to pray for,” Strode’s relentless dedication to eradicating the Shape is what does the lion’s share of the work with regard to retaining the moviegoers’ attention.
As for the rest of the cast, their performances are mediocre at best, though the film’s writing, rather than their acting, appears to be to blame. Strode’s estranged daughter (Judy Greer), her husband (Toby Huss) and her daughter (Andi Matichak) are far from a convincing family, although Matichak (“Underground,” “Orange Is the New Black”) shines as an individual character in her first feature film.
The movie’s comic relief, albeit amusing, is ill-placed and gratuitous. These days, it seems as though every film is peppered with jokes and clever one-liners, no matter the genre.
Horror films, however, are the last place where that belongs. In the case of “Halloween,” the humor detracts from the otherwise adequate scariness of the movie, killing its tension more efficiently than Michael Myers could ever dream of doing and leaving its viewers laughing when they should be recovering from screaming.
In a cinematic age of reboots, prequels, sequels and spinoffs, “Halloween” falls short of breaking the mold of unintelligent, unoriginal and unserious. While that’s not what audiences look for in a slasher movie, it sure would’ve been a welcome surprise.
Rated R, “Halloween” is now showing in theaters nationwide.