Halloween (2018) : Review

(Author’s note: I’m a huge fan of the Halloween films, and this is my first chance to review one of them. Apparently, the cool kids would call what follows “going off.” There are 1,983 words in this review, so here’s the TL,DR version: A surprising script, solid direction, and a sharp feminist/#MeToo undercurrent make David Gordon Green’s Halloween one hell of a movie. Don’t miss it.) When it comes to October scares and feeling the need to voluntarily activate the primitive parts of our brains which react to danger, few look further than John Carpenter’s seminal Halloween. Released on October 25, 1978, Carpenter’s film singlehandedly redefined and revitalized the horror genre, inspiring a whole generation of knockoffs and homages, not to mention spawning seven inferior sequels and a duo of Rob Zombie-directed reboot films. All of these failed to capture the essence of what made Carpenter’s Halloween so memorable, plying audiences instead with increasing amounts of gore, nudity, and other superficial adornments. As told in 1978, Michael Myers was a six-year-old Haddonfield, Illinois child who suddenly and brutally murdered his teenage sister Judith on Halloween night, 1963. Exactly fifteen years later, on his way to be tried as an adult, he escapes and heads back to Haddonfield, starting a killing spree which leaves at least four people dead, including three friends of high schooler Laurie Strode. It is never explained (at least in the theatrical release) why Michael does what he does, much less how he does it. His psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis, says only this: “I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil.” Only in the extended television version of Halloween (which premiered the same year Halloween II made its theatrical debut) and the many sequels which followed was Laurie clarified as Michael’s sister in an attempt to explain Michael’s homicidal urges. The linchpin theme of an unchecked and unkillable evil existing in this world was weakened by blaming it on the bloodline. Halloween 5 and 6 went a step further, blaming Michael’s immortality and murderous rage on black magic, somewhat tying these films to the unjustly-maligned Halloween III: Season of the Witch, a standalone episode which literally treated the Michael Myers story as a “Movie of the Week.” The notion of pure evil has been lost and buried under flagging attempts to hang his slaughterfests on everything from witchcraft to white trash child abuse (see Zombie’s Halloween films for the latter). Carpenter’s darker and ambiguous vision has been blessedly resurrected in David Gordon Green’s Halloween (referred to hereafter as Halloween ’18 to avoid confusion), a 40th anniversary gift which restores every bit of “wow” chipped away by the 1981-2009 Michael Myers films. Green has stepped up and reestablished Michael (played here by both Jude James Courtney and Nick Castle, who played Michael in 1978) as the embodiment of unstoppable and uncompromising evil…

Halloween (2018)

Rating

4.5

A surprising script, solid direction, and a sharp feminist/#MeToo undercurrent make David Gordon Green’s Halloween one hell of a movie. Don’t miss it.

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