Making a sequel is a difficult task for any filmmaker in Hollywood because they have to retain the qualities that audiences enjoyed about the first instalment, but also give them something new. However, when it comes forty years after the original, it’s a lot easier to find the balance and while this is not the first Halloween sequel, it’s the one fans have been waiting for.
Simplicity is the greatest asset of the new Halloween. It stays true to the original film because it’s a slasher film, and it does not attempt to incorporate any absurd myths or twists that ruined the other sequels. It’s the long-awaited reunion of Laurie Strode and Michael Myers after the events in 1978.
It begins with a pair of journalists at the Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, and it is here audiences are introduced (or re-introduced) to Michael Myers (Nick Castle), the cold-blooded killer. However, we quickly realise that the journalists are not the only ones obsessed with Michael. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), the survivor of the attacks forty years ago, is consumed with putting an end to this story. Her obsession has even led to a dysfunctional relationship with her own family, as she treated her daughter like a soldier, prepping her for the worst case scenario.
The beauty of Halloween is that it works as both a sequel and a standalone film. They do a great job of filling in the blanks for the new generation that will be watching, by explaining the history of the characters and the relationship between Myers and Laurie. They even have a great visual of Michael Myers as a child murdering his sister. But for those who have seen the previous instalments, they will be able to appreciate a lot of little moments in Halloween.
When it comes to Myers, it is the case of less is more. Many characters desperately try to get him to speak to no avail, and his kills are as ruthless as any we have seen on the big screen in recent years. While we have seen similar kills, the no-nonsense approach to how he goes about his business is quite shocking. Also, the fact we have a killer who gives us no explanation for his actions makes it all the more frightening. Plus, the legendary white mask returns, which is so simple and a perfect homage to the original.
Like all horror films, we have doses of comedy to lighten the mood. There are typical cheesy lines you find in most horror films, but there are also genuinely funny moments featuring actor Jibrail Nantambu, who will be considered a very promising young actor after this performance. His dialogue delivery is fantastic, and the jokes never felt forced.
The eventual showdown between Laurie and Michael Myers is the end goal for this film, and it does a great job of building to this moment. The scenes that teases an interaction between the characters helps build the excitement, so by the time the two do clash you are more than ready for it. It is the horror equivalent of Bane versus Batman, minus the muscles. The climax also delivers a great series of twists and turns which keep you on your seat, and sometimes, takes you off of it.
The way Michael Myers is able to endure some inhuman punishment is surreal, and a little far-fetched. Some moments do make you think “how on earth did he survive that?” which can take you out of the film for a moment. And there are even scenes which stretch the term “cinematic liberty” as there is no logical explanation for how some potential victims escape our monsters grasp.
Ultimately, it does deliver thrills, scares, and a compelling story. Also, it is refreshing, as we seem to live in an era where every horror film is about a myth of a haunted house or some spirit possessing a person’s body. Halloween is the return of the slasher genre, and it is the story of a woman trying to stop a cold-blooded killer.
Dir: David Gordon Green
Prd: Malek Akkad, Jason Blum, Bill Block
Scr: Jeff Fradley, Danny McBride, David Gordon Green
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner, Nick Castle
DOP: Michael Simmonds
Halloween is available now on Digital, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.