Halloween movie review: Jamie Lee Curtis is impressive in this nostalgic treat for '80s horror fans
Halloween is a fairly well tailored film for nostalgia addled fans as well as for newcomers with just a cursory knowledge of the franchise.
As someone who finds slasher films the least interesting sub-genre of horror, the prospect of a Halloween rehash did not seem very exciting. So it is a pleasant surprise that the reboot turned out to be smarter and far more entertaining than it had any right to be.
Halloween, as you may know, is the third reboot of the series if you count Halloween 4 as a remake of the first movie, and Rob Zombie’s terrible 2007 film as a reimagining. It essentially does to the franchise what The Force Awakens did to Star Wars – take all the familiar elements, mix them up together in a blender, and find the right balance between the new and the old. What we ultimately get is a fairly well tailored film for nostalgia addled fans of the original John Carpenter movie as well as for newcomers with just a cursory knowledge of the franchise.
The film picks up in present day – Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is now a neurotic divorcee burdened by all the trauma caused to her by the events in the previous films. As a result, she shares strained relationships with her daughter (Judy Greer) and her granddaughter (Andi Matichak), and often exhibits wayward behavior. Michael Myers, on the other hand, is holed up at a correctional facility, with no signs of recovery or need for therapy. But since this is a horror movie, it is only a matter of time until Myers escapes, and comes after Laurie and her family to finish what he started 40 years ago.
Despite having slasher film roots, David Gordon Green’s direction in Halloween has a certain warm and comfortable throwback texture that makes you snuggle up with the film. Every moment here is treated like an '80s horror, complete with Carpenter’s synth based music, as well as the American suburban vibe found in films of that era, suspending just enough disbelief for you to not question why certain things have not updated themselves to 2018. The throwback factor is so strong, in fact, that a character throws away a cell phone into a bowl of punch, and that of course smartly leads to consequences of the owner of the phone not having a chance to call for help when Myers attacks.
The biggest reason people watch the Halloween films are the murderous activities that Myers participates in, and this film delivers on that front in delicious ways. It is refreshing to see Myers go about his Halloween night, killing random people in the neighbourhood for no apparent reason, shot in intricate one takes and ending those sequences with artfully designed stabbings. The final 20 minutes of the film contain a fun subversion of what happens in the original film as Laurie and Myers spar in dark rooms sniffing each other out. Curtis is impressive, once again showcasing why the first three films of her career went on to become all time classics. It really makes you wonder why she fell off the grid in recent years considering the talent she possesses. In any case, this film is going to land her many, many big roles in the next few years.
There are some downsides of course, some of which involve contorting twists in the storyline to fit certain future events, and the horror movie sin of introducing new characters for two minutes mouthing annoying dialogue so their deaths have some impact. But it is easy to let these things go and relish the return of Myers being creepy in the most crowd pleasing possible way, setting the foundation for a new trilogy.
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