Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Forty years is quite the length to let anything gestate. And that’s exactly the timeframe writing team Danny McBride (yes, that Danny McBride) and David Gordon Green (known for the Seth Rogen films “50/50” and “Pineapple Express”) needed to bring a fresh pair of eyes to a franchise that should’ve been axed twenty years ago.
Let’s face it, the string of “Halloween” flicks (minus the singular 1978 classic) weren’t very good. They were mildly effective at best, chronologically all over he place, and - aside from “Halloween: 20 Years Later” - lacked purpose. So instead of trying to make another sequel from the same cloth, the filmmakers gutted the fluff, and choose to make a “Halloween” that would only focus on the events from the first entry, which, turns out, was exactly the right touch. (The best change being our main slayer is no longer related to Laurie. He’s just a sociopath killing everything in sight. Spooky).
The kitchen knife wielding Michael Myers is scary again folks, and it feels so invigorating to stake such a claim. Green - who also directed - and McBride layer the perfect balance of tension, humor, and slashings to respectively turn in a nostalgic throwback to the John Carpenter glory days. The only thing missing is a VHS player.
And because it’s a direct sequel to “Halloween (1978)” that means Jamie Lee Curtis has been given new life as the now PTSD stricken Laurie Strode, still suffering from the trauma of watching Myers murder her pals decades ago. Because of this, Strode currently lives in a mega fortress, whilst using mannequins for target practice - with the hope one day Micheal will return to face the wrath - and picking up the pieces of an estranged relationship with a family (most notably her daughter played by Judy Greer) that hardly want to be involved. Save for a granddaughter (newcomer Andi Matichak) who does her best to stay in touch.
Through Green’s new lens, we can see that Laurie has scars not so easily healed along with the permanent damage it took on her mental health (even losing custody of her kid some years back). With all this in the rearview, it’s only fitting that The Shape himself manages to escape from a mental institution (a bus carrying the serial killer crashes) on Halloween night, and return home to gruesomely off unsuspecting teens, moms and babysitters just ripe for the pickin.’
What’s even better, is all of this is boosted with a brand new Carpenter score that’s a modern update of the iconic tune; featuring all the elements you’d appreciate, while being fresh to the series. A mixture amplified at precisely the right moments to send a shiver of joy down your spine.
Collectively, Green and McBride have tapped into real tension and honest thrills. Including a sequence - done in one take - where Meyers steps foot in Haddonfield, Illinois while everyone is trick or treating. He walks in a shed, picks up a weapon and uses it. He then proceeds to the next house as if the previous one didn’t happen. And so on. The flow and execution of this particular moment is the type of transition horror movies lack. They tend to get caught up in the gore and presentation, and forget to scare you. I’m happy to report, this is only one of several anxiety inducing excerpts.
Lest not forget this all builds to a climactic showdown which pits heroine vs villain that doesn’t disappoint in the slightest. If anything, it’s a cage match years in the making, worth a trip to the theater alone.
Of course, Green tends to throw his oblivious characters into scenarios where they should be running as opposed to investigating that sound - however - it's necessary. Because If we didn’t have bodies to pile up, then it wouldn’t be a “Halloween” movie. Except Green - tactically I might add - makes you care about some of those bodies.
And while no sequel has ever come close to touching the original, this version certainly gets the job done. An entertaining, brutally violent, and surprisingly emotional rendition of horror pop culture royalty. “Halloween” is indeed an October treat catered effectively for the fans and elevated in part because of Green’s attention to detail, but rounded out via Curtis’s full transformation into badass grandma mode.
Say it with me: Michael Myers is back and better than ever.