‘Halloween’ Ultimately Slashes Itself, Jamie Lee Curtis Kicks Ass

Grade: B-
Directed By: David Gordon Green
Screenplay By: David Gordon Green, Jeff Fradley and Danny McBride
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak
Rated R for horror violence and bloody images, language, brief drug use and nudity.
Running Time: 1 hour and 46 minutes

For fans of John Carpenter’s original Halloween from 1978, the 2018 version gave plenty of reason for excitement. Carpenter overseeing the film as an executive producer. Jamie Lee Curtis set to return as Laurie Strode. And Universal Pictures tapping a talented director in David Gordon Green (Stronger, Pineapple Express) to helm the project.

If you’re a Halloween faithful, or if you just enjoy a solid slasher flick during spooky season, you should be buying your tickets.

The 2018 Halloween offers many of the same qualities that made the original a hit: A simple premise, camera techniques that are designed for suspense and a strong performance from its lead. Taking place many years ahead in the timeline, Laurie Strode is living in secure isolation. We’re keyed in to the details that led to her distancing herself from her family. Her fight for survival with infamous murderer Michael Meyers years ago has heavily impacted her life. She rigorously trained her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) to be prepared in case she found herself in a similar scenario. The intense preparation isolated Karen, who would end up being taken away by Child Protective Services. As an adult, Karen now has her own daughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), and while they are both still connected to Laurie, their relationships with her are rocky at best. To them, she’s just crazy old Grandma Laurie.

But one of the greatest aspects of the film – and one that perhaps didn’t get all of the attention it deserved – is its own view of Laurie. To the film, she’s a survivor. She’s someone who experienced a traumatic event years ago whose current behavior is unusual, yes, but not irrational. Halloween makes an effort to deconstruct how people view victims of trauma, showing Laurie to be very reasonable in her actions and fears while others see her as crazy. Her focus, however, is doing whatever it takes to ensure that her daughter and granddaughter survive when Michael Meyers escapes yet another psychiatric hospital. You’d think they’d keep a closer eye on this dude.

Nevertheless, we must have a movie, so Michael’s gotta break free once again. Once he’s let loose in the suburbs of the fictional Haddonfield, Illinois, it’s not long before the killing spree begins. And with brutality. From there, we’re pretty much going through the motions. People are stabbed, stalked, slammed repeatedly against walls…whatever gets the job done for our returning serial killer psychopath. Green does an excellent job of setting up the scares in suspenseful ways. We get shots through windows and reflective surfaces to make us feel like we aren’t entirely sure that what we’re seeing is right in front of us, or if the threat lurks elsewhere. Green also does a better job of covering Michael Meyers’ lack of spatial logic, which was corny at best in 1978 and would certainly look silly in a 2018 movie.

The second act essentially follows the murder-stalk-murder pattern, and the screenplay, written by Green, Jeff Fradley and Danny McBride, offers a surprising amount of laughs to be had along the way. You get the sense that perhaps Halloween just wants to be a lighthearted slasher thrill-fest, which for me, didn’t jell smoothly with the more serious-leaning themes about trauma and survival discussed earlier. It may have been a much stronger film had it maintained that tone throughout.

Regardless, Green and his team occupy a well-paced hour and 40 minutes with satisfying frights and a killer third act that sees three generations of women uniting against their tormentor. Jamie Lee Curtis kicks ass, and Halloween proves itself a franchise worth revisiting.

About Andy Moser

october, 2021

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