Though I, like many others, have a reverence for John Carpenter’s original Halloween film, I’ve also always viewed it on some level as a little bare bones. There’s some teenagers, a masked murderer wants to kill them through various creative means, the virginal girl escapes, roll credits. To be honest, I’m more of a Freddy Krueger gal in terms of slasher films – there’s a villain with a good twist that can be, and was, taken in a few different directions. Now that we’re in 2018, and have had a solid few decades of graphically violent horror franchises, its understandable that Halloween was due for a bit of a revamp. I’m just shocked at how well they pulled it off.
The premise is just a continuation of the first: Laurie Strode lives in fear after what she experienced back in the 70s at the hands of The Shape, and has been preparing herself and her unwilling family for his return ever since. Of course, he does escape, and another inevitable rampage ensues. Though with Myers, the word ‘rampage’ is hardly fair, as his modus operandi is to kill indiscriminantly at a fairly leisurely pace, without much of a sense of aggression, The fear comes from the complete inability to reason with or run away from him, as no matter what you do, or how slowly it happens, he’ll always be coming after you. Rather than giving him a backstory or making the events increasingly outlandish as in some of the Halloween sequels, director David Gordon Green allows Myers to simply be an embodiment of unstoppable evil – an interesting and worthwhile choice in an era of sympathetic villains.
And here to ward off this evil is a potently indignant Jamie Lee Curtis, having gone from a soft-spoken victim to a furious powerhouse. Without trying too hard to bring this film into thee zeitgeist, her character’s representation of female rage against an attacker amongst family and friends who won’t believe her feels timely, and the fact that she is inevitably correct about Myers return makes her fighting prowess all the more satisfying. When combined with subplots featuring a jerk boyfriend and a rather pathetic ‘nice guy’ figure, it sends the message that this movie is one concerning female empowerment against physical male oppression, in a less shallow way than you might assume. Alongside this, Judy Greer makes a decent turn as Laurie’s reluctant daughter, and newcomer Andi Matichak carries much of the movie well as the token teen girl pitted against a figure of male evil. Most importantly, Green takes his time with these characters before bringing in the gore, and you end up legitimately caring about who lives and dies, a far cry from the disposable bad girls of the original.
As for the horror aspects: don’t go to this if you don’t cope well with graphic injury detail. The jumpscares are relatively few, and for that I was thankful, but there are no coy cutaways here when the violence starts; jaws are broken, heads are smashed, and stab wounds are plentiful. Though for the heavy amount of violence in this film, the blows have a considerable amount of weight to them, and Myer’s assaults aren’t just done for some visual fun. They add a large amount to the sense of terror and tension he provides, as you know innocent people will suffer greatly, not just through elaborate murders a la the later Elm Street movies.
For fans of horror, this is mandatory viewing.
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