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"Halloween" Review

By Shannon C. White
On November 1, 2018

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“Was that the boogeyman?” Laurie asks the stranger, Dr. Loomis, after surviving the murderous barrage of Michael Myers. Loomis responds with: “As a matter of fact, it was.” This closing scene is from the ending of the original 1978 “Halloween,” a film so iconic that the average individual would be more willing to believe that John Carpenter’s “Halloween” inspired “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” instead of the opposite, despite “Leatherface” appearing on screen several years before Michael even got his hands on a kitchen knife. 

“Halloween” is the type of movie that has been so inspirational to its genre that it has become the definitive stereotype of what it made spectacular and popular, much like “Star Wars” for the sci-fi genre, or “Die Hard” for action. Much like the “Star Wars” and “Die Hard” franchises, the “Halloween” movies after the original have been passable at best and a previously unseen kind of horrific at worst. The sequels and remakes suffer from either being overly complicated, lacking in tension, or worst of all, having Rob Zombie attached to them in any form...until now. Forty years after the original, “Halloween (2018)” has arrived to become the true and potentially final sequel in this franchise, and it’s worth watching.

But does it stand anywhere near the original that it references so graciously?

“Halloween (2018)” is directed by David Gordon Green, a hit-or-miss kind of filmmaker who is responsible for standard forgettable comedies such as “The Sitter," but also surprisingly brilliant indie films like “Joe," and stars Jamie Lee Curtis, who is reprising her role as Laurie Strode, her most recognizable one outside of her “Activia” commercials. It also stars Judy Greer as Karen Strode, daughter of Laurie Strode and mother of Allyson Strode, who is played by Andi Matichak. Nick Castle returns to portray Michael Myers once more and Will Patton portrays Officer Hawkins.

The best part of this horror romp is the soundtrack, which is composed by the incredible John Carpenter, who is the legendary filmmaker responsible for “The Thing (1982)," “Christine," and of course, the original “Halloween.” Carpenter’s score for the film should be considered amongst the best of what cinema has produced and is on the same level as recent John Williams works. Remorsefully, Carpenter did not return to the director’s chair for this film, but Green did accomplish what past sequels have failed to achieve, and that is making Michael Myers terrifying again.

Over time, horrific killers such as Jason Vorhees and Freddy Kreuger begin to lose that element of pure fright and become almost farcical, and Michael is no exception. Green took the route of having simple direct kills, and it really paid off. Not to say that each kill lacks creativity or pacing, but each gruesome murder feels believable and startling.

While believability is on topic, Jamie Lee Cutis must be commended for her portrayal of Laurie Strode. She treats the character as honestly as possible, instead of going down the gun-toting, butt-kicking exterminator routine. Curtis portrays Laurie as a paranoid traumatized victim of a horror that she knows yet can never understand. She has destroyed every relationship that could have mattered to her, and has a militarized basement in preparation for one person. She turns out to be right in her seemingly impractical attempts. There's a turning point in the film in which Michael Myers is no longer the hunter, but the hunted, and it’s a purely euphoric experience.

“Halloween” isn’t all fun and frights, though. This holiday fright-fest is lacking in the writing department and the editing needs polished. The film can feel predictable and artificial when neither Laurie or Michael are onscreen, but thankfully, that is not too often. If caring about secondary characters was a priority, then the movie falls flat on its face, and it suffers from the modern-day cinema syndrome of trying to have comedic moments every other scene, a rampant condition whose original “patient zero” is most likely from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The “Halloween (2018)" is essentially an American League pitcher going up to bat with a hitting record so abysmal the manager almost sends the bat boy out of pity. The pitcher goes up to home plate, swings wildly with his eyes wide shut, and somehow miraculously hits the ball and makes it to first base. Perhaps it is wrong to celebrate the achievements of “Halloween (2018)” considering the bar was set so low that anything with even a spark of ingenuity or sincere effort would have been passionately applauded. Or perhaps it is wrong to make a baseball metaphor for any movie review that isn’t “Angels in the Outfield." For both, only time will tell.

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