A love letter to the original and to slasher films in general. Michael dons the mask once again 40 years to the day of his original outing, and Laurie is ready and waiting for him. It’s not going to blow your socks off but you might find yourself hiding behind your sleeve more often than you’d think.
Releasing his second feature in two years, David Gordon Green directs a return to Haddonfield, Illinois and re-introduces the boogeyman himself. With little in the way of positive additions to the franchise since the original 1978 John Carpenter film, this project did not exactly have much to live up to. Considering that, this film is a worthy addition to an iconic franchise, highlighting what made the original so scary but also adapting those same, arguably outdated, elements to bring the story to a fresh audience. Michael Myers returns as the masked evil incarnate, hell bent on sadistic murder with little to no obvious motive whilst opposite him Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her breakout role of Laurie Strode. Aside from the original film all other entries into the franchise have been wiped resulting in this being the only canon sequel to the first and it does go a long way to live up to it.
Jamie Lee Curtis is fantastic as a grizzled and weathered Laurie Strode. It has been 40 years to the day since the events of the original picture and Strode as spent every day since preparing for Michael’s return. Neglecting her daughter in favour of her obsession, Laurie has a rocky relationship with her daughter and by extension her granddaughter, who make up the three central heroes. It is no accident that three generations of the same family end up facing down Michael and it is a cute nod to the original set of sequels in which family play a large part.
In terms of the other performances in the film, the majority are incredibly forgettable. Generic horror screaming roles make up the short list of characters and nearly all are dead before the final curtain falls. However, it works within the genre. One could say the exact same about the majority of roles in the original film (aside from Laurie) and it didn’t take away then and it doesn’t take away now. You won’t care about these characters, but that’s okay, they’re all going to die anyway.
The film features a relatively slow start with an uncomfortably stylish opening sequence that unfortunately takes a while before it gets going (a criticism this rendition shares with the original) but once it gets going the film really does come into its own. With plenty of gory murders and scary set pieces the film is a rather excellent horror for the last 45 minutes or so. This goes beyond being impressive from an artistic point of view because the slasher sub-genre of horror films is incredibly outdated. Screaming teenagers running away from the boogeyman isn’t in fashion at all in today’s market, and yet Danny McBride and David Gordon Green have managed to revive an old-fashioned genre and bring it back to life for this year’s Halloween season. It’s a testament to how important and iconic the original film was as, when revisited, Michael is still one of the most terrifying villains in cinema history.
Halloween (2018) is packed full of references and nods to the original film and could quite easily be mistaken as a soft remake rather than a direct sequel (think Terminator: Genisys (2015, Alan Taylor)). However, Green doesn’t bash you over the head with homages but instead slyly weaves them naturally into the plot which gives fans of the original something to smile about but also fresh viewers a glimpse into the kind of stylistic qualities that made the original so captivating. First and foremost, of these is the utterly brilliant soundtrack throughout. Holding true to the core principles of Carpenters original score, Halloween (2018) features a modernised soundtrack which creates the same tense moments the original did.
It is certainly the best addition to the franchise since the original 1978 film. A worthy celebration of one of cinema’s most iconic horror villains, and some would argue the original slasher. Michael is just as scary now as he was 40 years ago, the difference is this time, Laurie is ready for him. A great horror film to go and see this Halloween and one that I imagine will continue to be watched for years to come.