Way back in 1978, John Carpenter made a horror film that would come to re-define the genre – that film, Halloween, would go on to be a successful franchise and introduce ‘Michael Myers’ to the realm of nightmare boogeymen everywhere. This Halloween season sees him return to the big screen in his eleventh outing, but is it any good? Ever since his notorious Halloween killing spree, Michael Myers (Nick Castle) remains locked up in an institution – that is, until his escape forty years later after his bus transfer goes wrong. He returns to Haddonfield ready for more bloodshed, and to find the victim who got away from all that time ago. But this time, ‘Laurie Strode’ (Jamie Lee Curtis) is ready for him, having spent forty years praying for his escape so she could kill him once and for all. As Michael continues to claim victims, and Laurie’s daughter ‘Karen’ (Judy Greer) and granddaughter ‘Allyson’ (Andi Matichak) come into his sides, who will win their final showdown?
it’s a masterful exercise in tension that feels as if it could go either way throughout
This film really advertised itself as a showdown between Laurie and Michael and, on that front, it does not disappoint. Halloween builds towards this climatic clash, which comprises the film’s final third, and it’s a masterful exercise in tension that feels as if it could go either way throughout. This is Curtis’ film – as Laurie, she balances a trauma survivor and action hero, caring for her family whilst being shunned by them for being ‘crazy’. We saw echoes of this character in H20, but this is a Laurie who feels realistic and kickass. That’s not to say that the rest of the film is bad, by any means. This is the goriest and most brutal Michael Myers we’ve seen, and it feels true to the 1978 original version – gone are the weird cults and ‘Rob Zombie’ backstories. Michael is scary again, and that’s helped by a compelling new score by Carpenter, his son Cody and Daniel Davies, and sure assured direction. Top here is a wonderful, unbroken shot that must last a good five minutes, following Michael as he stealthily butchers people around Haddonfield. It’s also very funny in places – one of the young boys being babysat and his dialogue is a highlight.
Outside of Laurie and Michael, there aren’t really any other interesting characters
Much though I enjoyed it, there are definite faults to be found in Halloween. Outside of Laurie and Michael, there aren’t really any other interesting characters. If we’re fair, a lot of them are marked as cannon fodder from the off, but there are some suggestions that would have made them more compelling which aren’t really addressed (we learn that Deputy Hawkins (Will Patton) was the first responder in the original Myers murders, and has been haunted by that – it doesn’t really go anywhere, though). Characters like the two true-crime podcasters (Rhian Rees and Jefferson Hall) feel more like plot devices, and Judy Greer is wasted (as ever, it seems) in another maternal role that doesn’t give her too much to do. For such a big role, Allyson is quite a dull character, and the stuff with her just feels a bit of a waste of time. The time taken to develop the other characters isn’t enough to make it feel worthwhile, and so it’s all just passing time until we get to the violence we came for.
There’s some fairly crummy dialogue, as par the course for a Halloween film, with an odd interlude in which two policemen discuss their sandwich preferences one of the strangest – it feels like it belongs to a different film entirely. Then, two bits I want to discuss, but I’m going to take care not to spoil. We are led into the opening titles with the title ‘do you feel it?’ or something to that effect – it’s so hammy and daft that it’s hard not to laugh at it. I also want to grumble at a plot twist that comes at the end of the second act – it’s so out of nowhere, and nothing comes of it when the purpose is nullified five minutes later.
It feels like an easy, poorly-thought way of getting Michael to Laurie, and I really resented it (still, you could watch Halloween 6, and it would look like masterful writing in comparison.). It seems like I’m grumbling a lot, but these were issues I have now I’m thinking about it – I really enjoyed watching Halloween. A lot of people are complaining that it’s not a gamechanger in the way that the original was, but it was never intending to be. No, Halloween is an assured horror film that cuts back to basics, being efficiently scary with one of cinema’s best bogeymen. A sequel is all-but guaranteed and, if Michael Myers and Jamie Lee Curtis are on the same form as this film, I’m already looking forward to it!