Halloween 2018 review Jamie Lee CurtisYear: 2018
Director(s): David Gordon Green
Writer(s): Jeff Fradley, Danny McBride, David Gordon Green
Region of Origin: US
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Rating: R
Digital, Color, 105 mins

Synopsis: Laurie Strode comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers. (Source)

I have complicated feelings about Halloween (2018). At its best, what director David Gordon Green has pulled off is reverent and timely. He’s pushed the indomitable Michael Myers and Laurie Strode into a new era, resetting their humanity and making their story resonate in a way that feels right. What trips me up, is that so much of it is just a straight inversion of the original and best film. A lot of scenes and deaths are reversed and lifted, and it leaves us wondering what the could’ve been done to truly take the series into new directions. Still, this is a good, albeit safe followup. At its core, it knows its characters and audience well, and is sincere at doing right by both. On an overall level, it’s also a success for the slasher genre, contributing a brutal entry lined with satisfyingly gruesome catharsis.

40 years after the first film, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has transformed into an isolated survivalist. The murders that claimed the lives of her friends are now infamous amongst Haddonfield, and her family, a grown daughter (Judy Greer) and grandchild (Andi Matichak), do their best to survive the fallout. Meanwhile, Michael Myers remains institutionalized. He’s been prodded and studied, but hasn’t spoken a word since the night that transformed him into the boogeyman. When two journalists attempt to provoke Michael, they set off a chain of events that empowers him, sending him on a collision course with Laurie. This time, however, Laurie is ready, and she’s been waiting for the rematch.

Most notable about the film, is how Green and writers Jeff Fradley and Danny McBride have evened the playing field. This is no longer a slasher where the final girl merely struggles to survive the night. In this film, it’s hard to tell who is hunter and who is prey. That’s the film’s biggest subversion, and above all, what makes it so rewarding. Taking all of this into account, the film really leans into the effects of trauma and violence, specifically on women. Laurie has become ostracized by those around her while carrying an unspeakable burden alone. It’s a damning revelation that rings loud and clear, and Jamie Lee Curtis is phenomenal in bringing this all to life. With this subtext, the film becomes one of the most nuanced mainstream horror films to hit the scene in a long while. It’s not only self-aware about the franchise it’s trying to deconstruct, but also the political and social implications of the original film itself.

Halloween 2018 reviewWith its character-centric plot, the film’s cast is indispensable. At the top, Jamie Lee Curtis lends the film its voice, and even a sense of gravitas. After all of these years, it’s great to see her character fleshed out, fully rendering what was only hinted at in the original film. Judy Greer, who’s made a career out of token mothers doesn’t expand past her typecasting too much, but still gets a really cool moment to shine. Lastly, newcomer Andi Matichak extends the implications of Laurie’s trauma to a new generation. She feels like an outsider’s entry point into the film, and carriers large portions of it on her back. Together, all of these women form a cohesive portrait of family and survival. As Michael, James Jude Courtney (and a few scenes from Nick Castle) give the iconic killer a new humanity without demystifying what made him so otherworldly. Essentially, the character work is just as good as the horror spectacle, elevating a lot of what could’ve been generic.

Legacy sequels, when done right, can reinvent a franchise (ie, Fury Road, Creed) in a way that is just as revolutionary as the original. Halloween doesn’t quite reach the heights or ambition of those films, but is a powerful continuation that has substance and weight. On a pure slasher level, the film is a return to something more aggressive and unflinching. While a lot of it does feel like fan service or fan fiction, it’s great for Curtis and Strode, even if it doesn’t result in the most imaginative sequel. Halloween proves that bigger, faster and harder isn’t necessarily better, but it also ain’t no slouch.

SG