The Halloween series is one of those horror series where I’m more familiar with it by reputation rather than by the actual films. I know the beats of most of the films, but I’ve only seen the John Carpenter original, and even then I only saw that for the first time 2 weeks ago. Having said that, when it was first announced that David Gordon Green and Danny McBride were going to make a sequel to the original film that ignored all the other sequels, I was intrigued, even though I hadn’t seen any of the others. I think, only having watched the first film, I was in the right frame of mind for this film, and I have to say that this is an effective horror film.
Forty years after the events of the first Halloween, Michael Myers, who was recaptured shortly after being shot by Dr Loomis, is being transferred from Smith’s Grove psychiatric facility to a more secure facility. During the transfer, Myers escapes and goes back to Haddonfield to go on another murder spree. This gets the attention of Laurie Strode, who has been preparing for 40 years for Michael to escape so she can kill him, even though it caused a lot of strain in her relationship with her daughter Karen and granddaughter Allyson. Now what I really like about the film is the way it depicts Michael Myers. From what I know about the other films, they try to make this big connection between Michael Myers and Laurie Strode, having Laurie be Michael’s sister, and try to explain why Michael is a ruthless killer. Here, Michael has gone back to being an undefined force of nature. Even Michael not speaking is used as a plot point with Michael’s psychiatrist and a pair of British crime podcasters, whose actions kick off the plot, wanting Michael to speak to find some insight into him. But there is no insight into Michael, the best insight will always be that provided by Dr Loomis in the original that Michael is just pure evil. There are also interesting ideas regarding the relationship between Michael and Laurie, with Michael’s psychiatrist seeming to be an audience surrogate, having this desire to see Michael and Laurie placed together again, but Michael doesn’t really go after Laurie until he’s taken to her, most of the interaction between the two is kickstarted by others and by Laurie herself. The film also does a great job at showing the damage done to Laurie as a result of Michael, suffering from severe PTSD and going full survivalist as a way to defend herself and her family against Michael, even if it does alienate her from her family.
This is seen well through the performances. Jamie Lee Curtis is great as Laurie Strode, having more of a Sarah Conner vibe in this film, showing the damage that was done to her psychologically by Michael, along with her desire to make sure she doesn’t fall prey to Michael again. It feels believable for someone like Laurie to fall into that situation and her relationship with her daughter feels believable in this way. This leads into Judy Greer, who often gets completely wasted in films, who is finally given a substantial role, which is substantial due to its normalcy. It’s clear that Greer as Karen has been made hard and tough by Laurie at the expense of having a real childhood so being a normal person is a real effort for her and there is a sense of resentment towards Laurie that Greer shows, along with a sense of grudging respect when her training becomes vital at the end of the film. Andi Matichak gives a compelling, charismatic performance as Allyson, although to say more about her would spoil the film, the same being true for solid work from Will Patton as Frank Hawkins, Virginia Gardener as Allyson’s friend Vicky and Haluk Bilginer as Dr Sartain, Michael’s psychiatrist.
On a technical level, David Gordon Green, along with DP Michael Simmonds and Editor Tim Alverson do a great job at building tension throughout the film, using long camera takes to fully show the brutality and effectiveness of Michael Myers, with the gore effects being used effectively to give a sense of Michael’s power, especially at the end of the film. There are a few shots which directly reference Carpenter’s work on the original, but these mainly come at the end of the film and feel earned because of the solid groundwork Green built up throughout the film. The score by John Carpenter, along with Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies (who are Carpenter’s son and godson respectively), does a great job at building suspense, using the original Halloween theme at appropriate moments with the new music doing a great job at building atmosphere.
Overall, I found Halloween to be an effective horror film. Is it as good as the first film, no, that film remains a classic and I was terrified when I saw that film for the first time a few weeks ago, but this does a great job all the same. Under the stewardship of David Gordon Green, Danny McBride and Jason Blum, with help from John Carpenter, this film is faithful to the original film and does a great job at showing that slasher films do still have the power to scare. I did have some problems with it, but these are more plot related so I don’t want to spoil them.
My Rating: 4/5