Review: Halloween (2018)

Halloween (2018)

Directed by: David Gordon Green | 106 minutes | horror | Actors: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle, Haluk Bilginer, Will Patton, Rhian Rees, Jefferson Hall, Omar J. Dorsey, Miles Robbins, Drew Scheid, Jibrail Nantambu, Pedro Lopez, Charlie Benton Christopher Allen Nelson, Teresa Johnson, Charlie Donadio, Stephanie Butts, Colin Mahan

Forty years ago, director John Carpenter kicked off a flood of films in the so-called ‘slasher genre’ with ‘Halloween’. Starting point: young people (mainly women and preferably babysitters) are slaughtered by a madman with a knife. At the time, ‘Halloween’ was such a success that countless (horrific) sequels were made. The franchise seemed as dead as the last victim of main character Michael Myers, but director David Gordon Green (‘Stronger’) still saw salvation in yet another sequel. And with success: forty years later, ‘Halloween’ again proves to be a monster hit in the cinemas.

Because the film studios in all their unhealthy expansionism had already twisted themselves in so many ways with the ten (!) remaining parts in the franchise, director Green decided to ignore everything in between for the sake of convenience; the new ‘Halloween’ is a direct sequel to the original. Forty years after Michael Myers slaughtered some young girls in the small town of Haddonfield, two podcast makers (it’s 2018 after all) decide to dive into the business. Michael hasn’t spoken a word since his arrest, and doctors have spent countless years trying to figure out what’s going on inside this man, if you can speak of a human at all.

Perhaps Michael could never bear it that Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) was the only one who managed to escape his cleaver at the time. Laurie has lived in a perpetual state of paranoia since that night in 1978, to such an extreme that her relationship with her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) has cooled considerably. However, this Karen sees the world as a ‘place full of love and peace’ (uhum), and thus is not susceptible to her mother’s whims. It will of course not be long before Michael manages to escape during a (yes) transfer to another institution. Laurie’s chance to finally deal with the ever tormenting demon of the past.

‘Halloween’ turns out to be a great success at the box office, but is the film as a whole also successful? In part. Nice are the winks to the original (and especially that wonderful, classical musical theme), less nice that the film does not have much new to say. ‘Halloween’ would have become especially interesting if the makers had really chosen to further develop the cat-and-mouse game between Laurie and Michael. The film now sometimes feels like a series of coincidences that eventually leads Michael to quite randomly with Laurie and her family, while it is precisely their ‘hunter versus prey relationship’ that is most intriguing.

It’s not to say that “Halloween” isn’t entertaining, though. It’s cool to see Jamie Lee Curtis back in the role of Laurie: you immediately believe that this woman has been struggling through life for forty years, constantly alert to the inevitable return of the ultimate evil. Traumatized for good, but also blessed with a terrifying doggedness that you don’t see enough of, especially in female film characters. ‘Halloween’ therefore feels a bit more of this time; you might even notice a hint of feminism in the film and in the finale the ghost of #MeToo wanders around for a while.

In addition, Michael Myers remains an ultimate horror apparition: more form than human, which poses an unprecedented threat in every scene. It’s just a shame that director Green sometimes works very clumsily, like in the somewhat forced opening scene. And the character of the doctor who wants to gain insight into Michael’s psyche at all costs does not come out very well either.

However, the biggest monster lurking in ‘Halloween’ is its success. The film turned out to be a huge hit in America, and success in Hollywood usually means only one thing: milking it out. And as entertaining as this new sequel is at times, the ‘Halloween’ franchise has been slaughtered enough by now. A sequel will undoubtedly be inevitable, but maybe it’s better to permanently store Michael Myers’ legendary mask in the basement. Provided, of course, that the cellar is properly closed.

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