Movie Review: 'Halloween'

Kyle Winfield | Contributing Writer

Courtesy Asbury Park Press

Slasher films seem to have become passe in recent years. Everyone knows what to expect from them. It’s a genre that popularized some maniac brutalizing bland teens while they engage in pre-marital sex and smoke marijuana. But, this doesn’t mean that the films can’t go back to their actually scary roots. Case in point, 2018’s “Halloween.”

“Halloween” (not to be confused with the 1978 original or the 2007 remake) is a slasher film, directed by David Gordon Green, and stars Jamie Lee Curtis, reprising her role as Laurie Strode. The movie features acts Judi Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner and Nick Castle, also reprising his role as “The Shape” or Michael Myers.

It is worth noting that the Halloween franchise has a very strange history, with each successive film muddying the timeline, coming to a head with the 1998 film “Halloween H20: 20 Years Later.” Which picked up 20 years after the first two films and undid all of the films that came after, thus erasing the daughter Laurie had, and the whole occult backstory for Michael.

2018’s “Halloween,” however, undoes every single film after the first one and acts as a very belated sequel and does a great job as such. Set 40 years after the original, Laurie Strode, still traumatized by the events of the first film, has become a survivalist hermit of sorts and spends her time waiting for the day when Michael Myers comes back to Haddonfield, Illinois.

When looking at the film overall, there are quite a lot of positives to be found. Though that is not to say that it is a tight, perfect film, as it still has its share of flaws.

One such negative are the side plots, which either don’t go anywhere, or serve a pretty transparent purpose to just make things happen in the film. While another is the effectiveness of the twist in the film. Some eagle-eyed or really attentive audience members may see the twist coming from a mile away, or at least suspect that something is up with a certain side character.

However, the film’s positives far outweigh the negatives by far. For example, Jamie Lee Curtis absolutely nails her role as a tough, but paranoid emotional wreck, and absolutely steals the scene she is in. Everyone else does a reasonable job in their roles, though a special mention goes out to Virginia Gardner and Jibrail Nantambu, who demonstrated genuine humorous chemistry in their scenes together.

Speaking of Curtis’ acting, the film has an odd deepness to it, that isn’t really expected in a film of this genre. Essentially, it tells of a person whose obsession with a past trauma has driven a wedge between them and their loved ones, and the lengths said person will go through to not repeat that same trauma. This is all masterfully shown in Curtis’ portrayal of Laurie.

Now, when going into a horror film, only one question really matters. “Is this film scary, at all?” While yes, there are a few of the much maligned jump scares, there are moments of genuine tension that really amp up the “scare factor” of the film. This, coupled with the brutality of the kills really helps in making the film “scary.” This is again further amplified by the amazing “retro” score.

Speaking of the score, John Carpenter makes his return to the “Halloween” franchise, along with his son, Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies to provide the music for the film. To put it bluntly, the score is spectacular. It has that retro synth sound that is coming back into vogue, while also adding in some modern elements, which ends up tastefully updating the original score, while also keeping it’s identity.

Yet another positive aspect of this film is the cinematography and use of lighting, which is better than one would expect for just another slasher film. Most impressive being the single take of Michael stalking through the streets of Haddonfield. Another standout scene makes great use motion activated lights to really help sell the tension.

Overall, “Halloween” was much better than initially expected. It is quite the breath of fresh air in a franchise that certainly needed it. While it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the original, despite having the retro feel given to it by the callbacks and music, it does have the distinction of being the best “Halloween” sequel there is. And that certainly counts for something.

Definitely see this film soon.