Review: Halloween

The horror gods are smiling upon us because it is October and yes we actually have a Halloween film in theaters and even more importantly we have a GOOD Halloween movie in theaters. Not since 1989 has a Michael Myers film been released IN October, I would say 1995’s the Curse of Michael Myers deserves some credit as it was released at the very end of September in ’95, but even still, that is a LONG time. So yes, this is a big deal, Michael Myers is back, in October, in a good Halloween film. You know what, let’s not even call it good, because this is easily a GREAT Halloween film. I won’t really get into the plot of the film because if you are reading this you have probably already seen the film and or the trailers. I will talk about why this movie worked for me though. 

Director David Gordon Green and his co-writer Danny McBride on the set of “Halloween.” Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode, who comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

There was a great deal of skepticism from many people when it was revealed a new Halloween film was in going into production, especially when it was revealed that Danny McBride and David Gordon Green would be writing, producing and directing respectively. I can understand why some horror fans were concerned if they were not familiar with his work, I however was excited because I was a huge fan of his two HBO series Eastbound and Down and Vice Principals, the latter of which Green was involved in. Both series are hilarious comedies on the surface but look a little deeper and they are both great examples of stellar writing and character studies. So I just knew that these guys had the talent to do great things, and if Blumhouse and Trancas were taking their pitch of a Halloween movie seriously, then you know it had to be something worthwhile. Blumhouse’s inclusion along with the shocking revelation that the master John Carpenter himself  was getting involved were added eyebrow raising developments that just gave me all the info I needed to get my hopes up that this could be the Halloween film I have been hoping for for years. As you may have surmised by the opening paragraph Halloween (2018) IS that film.

The original Halloween is obviously one of the greatest horror films ever made and has always been among my favorite films overall. The series has a special place in my heart as it does most other horror fans. Having said that the series as a whole is also a very entertaining mess with more bad films than good ones. Each film (part 2 aside) features a Michael that just doesn’t quite feel right. Whether it’s part 4’s stiff and robotic Michael, the silly multiple mask fiasco of H20, and those in between, it always to me felt like a bootleg Michael. Sure I enjoy those movies on different levels, but they never feel like the real Michael Myers. That is where Halloween 2018 shines for me, THIS is Michael Myers as he should be through and through. It feels like Michael from the original with a bit more anger and purpose and I mean this in the best way possible.

The new Halloween effectively wipes out all the sequels including the previous sequel to do that H20, and picks up 40 years after the original. Jamie Lee Curtis is back as Laurie Strode and as most of you must know by now she is in full on survivalist mode and this works really well. Curtis seems to be reinvigorated playing Laurie again and having a great time while doing so. She is brave, vulnerable, terrified, traumatized and determined all at once. It is really cool to see her back this way and I think audiences will enjoy her performance. I won’t get too much into plot details or other characters other than saying everyone in the film does well with the exception of one character that felt a bit off, but I particularly like Laurie’s immediate family played by Judy Greer, Toby Huss and Andi Matichak. There are also a few side characters who really steal the show as well and you will know them when you hear them. So I don’t want it to seem like I am glossing over Jamie Lee’s importance to the story or the film, because this is a Laurie Strode story for better or for worse. Jamie Lee is fantastic in the film, truly and I am totally cool with her coming back and being the focus if that’s what it took to get this movie done right and help it to become the monster I hope and pray that it is. For me though as much as I love Laurie Strode and Jamie Lee, a Myers movie is only as good as it’s portrayal of Michael.

As I mentioned before, Michael is BACK and feels like the best incarnation since Halloween 1. Whenever Michael is on the screen (particularly on the streets of Haddonfield) it’s electric and it sets the stage for a few of the most brilliantly crafted scenes in a horror film in some time, one scene in particular makes amazing use of light and dark and I couldn’t help but smile as it unfolded. David Gordon Green (and everyone involved) should be applauded for the job he has done here. Michael moves as Michael should, Nick Castle (the original Michael Myers for those that don’t know) and James Jude Courtney both take turns portraying Michael at times and they nail it. The mannerisms, the walk, the head turns. It all was as it should be and you immediately tell the difference from this version of Michael and the ones from the lesser sequels. This also all works due to to the badass aged version of the classic mask they crafted for the film. It looks great and the way it looks in and out of the shadows and the way it obscures the eyes just right is a sight to make any Halloween fan say “Hell. Yes.” I could write a dissertation about how bad the masks have been in all the films prior aside from 1,2 and Rob Zombie’s film but I will spare you that…maybe some day. They knew what they were doing here, they knew what Michael had to look and act like. It’s funny because Halloween at its best is about simplicity, but it took almost 40 years to get Michael right again. I don’t want to talk too much about things that happen in the film but rest assured I think everyone who sees it will love this incarnation of Michael.

The music is another nice touch, while every Halloween film features the music made famous by John Carpenter in some form or fashion, this is the first one since part 3 that Carpenter has done the music for. He certainly brings back the iconic and necessary themes, but this time Carpenter along with his son Cody and frequent musical collaborator Daniel Davies deliver a score that expands on the sounds of those and feels like the original Halloween score had an awesome baby with his recent Lost Themes albums. So there are some very cool if not understated twists on the classic sound we fans have come to associate with the franchise and I for one was very happy with their contribution to the film and even get a little sentimental envisioning Carpenter watching and writing the music for this and performing it. It just feels right.

And that is really what it boils down to, the fact that this film feels like everything is as it should be, it feels like Halloween, even with a fresh 2018 coat of paint, it delivers what I have wanted out of a Michael Myers film for years. This Myers is scary, creepy and most importantly for me, is a sterling example of why so many people hold him in such high regard as the #1 horror icon. Halloween 2018 returns the prestige to the character that he so rightfully deserves and I am so thankful for this October trip back to Haddonfield.

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