3:00 pm EDT, October 20, 2018

‘Halloween’ review: A worthy successor and homage to the original horror masterpiece

Setting this 2018 sequel, and in some ways reboot, to the original John Carpenter horror masterpiece precisely 40 years after the original, while ignoring all other sequels, was a bold move that pays off in David Gordon Green’s Halloween.

Trying to keep this spoiler-free!

The beating heart of this installment is Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, now a hardened grandmother living in a secluded house in the woods that basically serves as her bunker, complete with an armory of weapons and a panic room in the basement. Her adult daughter Karen (Judy Greer) resents her mother for how she was raised; constantly preparing for a threat that never seemed to come and living in fear. Karen’s daughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak), resents her mother for keeping her grandmother away from her. The trifecta of women in this story are prominent and fully drawn, and while some say the film only touches on Laurie’s trauma and how it has affected her life and family, I would argue the opposite.

The ending, which I don’t want to reveal too much, is a fist-pumping and totally earned rousing display of female empowerment and feels like a horror movie made in 2018. And that’s a very good thing. In many ways, the meta rearrangement of the original themes from Halloween is similar to what Scream 4 — arguably the best of the Scream sequels — managed to do, a similar sequel/reboot horror form. And here in the case of Halloween, screenwriters David Gordon Green and Danny McBride pay homage in the first half and then deliver their own twist for the second.

Laurie Strode was right to be waiting 40 years for the return of her Bogeyman because two investigative journalists — alright, podcasters — come sniffing out a story in the penitentiary where Michael Myers is being held. He’s due for a transfer to a new, more secure facility soon, and well, we know how that turned out 40 years ago. But it wouldn’t be a Halloween movie without teens celebrating — and babysitting — on the big night. We spend some time in the neighborhood of Haddonfield as Allyson’s friends, Vicki (Virginia Gardner) and Dave (Miles Robbins), babysit a kid, Julian (Jibrail Nantambu) who knows exactly what these teens are up to. In a clever twist, he ends up being the smartest one in the room when shit starts going down.

Likewise, Allyson attends a Halloween dance, and, after an argument with her boyfriend, Cameron (Dylan Arnold), is left wandering alone. In one of the movie’s most exhilarating moments, she comes face-to-face with Michael Myers himself. It’s in this moment she realizes that everything her grandmother has said and everything her mother claimed to not be real is indeed very real and standing right in front of her. The classic Halloween score reverberates throughout, but has moments of being enhanced and updated, and in this scene, it’s put to its greatest effect.

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David Gordon Green plays with the camera and staging a lot to enhance the scares during the Halloween night festivities, and one scene that stands out is a roving shot as we follow Michael Myers silently infiltrating houses. One shot remains static as we watch through the window as an unsuspecting woman, after it’s revealed that Michael Myers walked right in, gets brutally slain. It wouldn’t be Green’s style to not include some tongue-in-cheek moments as well, including a line from Dave at the beginning where he asked if they didn’t have bigger things to worry about now than just a masked murderer who killed five teenagers 40 years ago. Maybe, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t have some fun being afraid of the Bogeyman.

Visual throwbacks to the original are strategically placed throughout, and it works as more than just fan service. For example, once we get to the final showdown between Laurie Strode and Michael Myers, a few visual cues flip the script and give Laurie the upper-hand. It’s a thrilling update to the original final girl narrative, and as Laurie walks around her house aiming a shotgun, it’s as tense as ever, but we also know we’re in the hands of someone who’s going to take care of business. And so she does.

Oh, and going back to the last 10 minutes one more time: I don’t want to say anything more, but I do want to say this: Judy fucking Greer.

Halloween is now in theaters.

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