2. Halloween (2018)
Directed by David Gordon Green.
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner and Nick Castle.
After some four decades, the Halloween franchise has finally served up a genuinely solid sequel even halfway worthy of Carpenter’s original. Though it makes a few disappointing stumbles, this simple, efficient follow-up to the 1978 movie course-corrects the franchise while bringing intriguing new dimensions to its two focal characters.
40 years after Michael Myers’ original rampage, the infamous killer manages to escape his confinement during a prison transfer, at which point he returns to Haddonfield to terrorise the locals on Halloween night once again. This inevitably pushes him towards a final showdown with the woman who barely elluded him on that original fateful night, Laurie Strode.
Halloween is a fine example of a retcon sequel that encapsulates most of the elements that make the original so beloved, while sprinkling just enough newness that it doesn’t feel like a cynical nostalgia-fest. There are countless visual nods to both the original movie and the sequels – including one spectacularly crowd-pleasing role reversal of the ’78 film – not to mention a wonderful new John Carpenter score heavily inspired by the original, yet the dramatic core of the movie feels startlingly fresh.
Laurie Strode has been impressively re-imagined here as a Sarah Connor-like warrior, counting down the days for her ultimate showdown with Michael, and it’s really the first of the four sequels Curtis has appeared in which really does anything truly satisfying with the character. It’s fair to say that the film probably should’ve focused more on the intriguing mother-daughter angle with Laurie’s daughter Karen (a typically wasted Judy Greer), but what we get is still plenty compelling.
The Shape himself is also done fine justice for the first time in decades, with David Gordon Green’s imaginative shot selections skirting firmly away from his goofier treatment in both the recent sequels and the Rob Zombie films. He once again feels like a terrifying, bulldozing force of nature, raising the pulse like he hasn’t in forever.
Where the new film goes wrong, then, is with its excess of bloat, both in terms of plot and characters. Rather than focusing entirely on the Laurie-Michael dynamic, we’re introduced to Laurie’s teenage granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), around who a frustrating amount of the movie revolves. Cue an avalanche of groan-worthy teen dialogue and a bizarre percentage of screen time devoted to their nonsense dramas.
Green and co-writers Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley also field out a fairly ridiculous and not remotely necessary plot twist in act three, one which never really feels justified or earned, and only detracts from the elegant simplicity of the central narrative hook.
Still, Halloween is likely to satisfy fans of the franchise new and old for the most part. It’s gory, stylish, intense and actually dares to do something fresh with both Laurie and Michael. It’s a shame things wrap up in decidedly conventional fashion for the series, but given the white knuckle 20-minute sequence that precedes it, it’s a little easier to swallow down.
Halloween 2018 delivers the series’ only truly worthwhile sequel to date, even with a few frustrating creative calls along the way.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
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