The Horror Show

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by David Gordon Green

How many horror fans reading this aren't familiar with John Carpenter's 1978 slasher masterpiece Halloween? What's that? Absolutely no one because it's rightfully one of the most talked about horror movies of all time. Halloween is one of the many examples of Carpenter being one of the absolute best at what he does and so many films to follow took many cues from the film's playbook. It's not hard to see why. Mixing an eerie tone, atmospheric soundtrack and a legendary slasher, Halloween is the kind of film that every filmmaker would be proud to have on their resume. Following the original, many sequels followed as well as a remake and subsequent sequel to said remake. Horror fans are largely divided on each particular project, but one thing is pretty much universally agreed upon: the original Halloween is awesome. Personally, I'm a fan of most of the Halloween films and have come to consider Michael Myers to be one of my absolute favorite slashers, if not my number one. Personally, I loved Halloween H20. I felt it closed the series very respectfully and brought it all full circle.

Then the powers that decide such things decided there was still money to be made and put forth Halloween: Resurrection. Not trying to insult anyone who liked it, but once that one came out, all bets were off. They might as well keep going and try to find a way to satisfy fans in some kind of way. So, after Rob Zombie's remake and sequel came and went, fans were happy to hear about a new project in the works. Jamie Lee Curtis was back and fans couldn't be happier. This was the 2018 film Halloween, a new chapter and possible close to the series. When I first heard that Danny McBride and David Gordon Green were involved, I was surprised but delighted. While I don't associate them with horror right off the bat, they are both very talented and capable of a lot of good work. So, the film came out and the response was strong. For those of you looking for a review from someone who goes against the grain and didn't like the film, this is not your day because I loved every single second of it. And let me tell you why.

Halloween takes place in present time, forty years after the events of the first film. The movie completely wipes out the previous sequels, meaning that Laurie Strode had one occasion of Michael Myers carving up her friends and wreaking havoc on her in a single night. “The Babysitter Murders” have become infamous and Michael Myers (played this time by original “Shape” Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney) has been on the mind of many media figures and therapists. The movie starts with two podcast reporters who have the opportunity to see him. Dr. Loomis, Michael's previous charge has passed and the new man with the job, Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer), explains his fascination with the case. I won't give anything away but will say it's a wonderful opening that sets the tone and style perfectly.

From there we are introduced to several of the film's primary characters. The obvious one is Laurie Strode herself (Jamie Lee Curtis) who has been deeply affected by the events of the original film. She is somewhat estranged from her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) who didn't take kindly to being raised in constant fear and level-10 preparation. Imagine what it would be like to grow up in a doomsday prepper household and you essentially have this poor woman's childhood. This all impacts Laurie's granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). She wants her grandmother in her life, but finds things complicated by her loved one's erratic, paranoid behavior and her mother's understandably cold nature towards the subject.

Everything gets going when Michael escapes while being transported to another facility and starts carving up the town of Haddonfield. His spree leaves many dead, but his primary target? The one that got away: Laurie Strode. But Laurie has been waiting for this, and the situation is no longer hunter vs. hunted. It is hunter vs. hunter in the ultimate Halloween showdown. The film is modern but at the same time matches the setting and vibe of the pioneering original and it's such a treat to see play out.

One of the things I respect the most about the film is its ability to pay homage to the original film without being one giant reference (or “member berries”, to South Park fans). It doesn't just cheaply remind the audience of things that were in the first, it works them in so authentically. An example of this would be several moments in the film in which Laurie finds herself in similar shots/situations as Myers himself did in the first one. This isn't just for audience to go “Hey! Like the first one!” but more to show Laurie's transition from someone being victimized to the person who decides to fight back. She's a survivor through and through and this has left her toughened and prepared. The film isn't one-dimensional however and her daughter's bitterness towards her mother is completely justified. While Laurie is ultimately right in predicting Micahel's return to the killing fields, she handled it all in the least healthy way possible and put her child through fear-driven hell. It's consumed her life and has all lead to the third act which, like the rest of the film, is fantastic.

To go too much into the ins and outs would be a bad idea. Like the original, the film keeps things simple and all moments are to be savored and experienced firsthand. The film matches the original's classic feel and use of simplicity. At the same time, it also takes notes from the first movie in how it keeps the audience guessing. At times the kills are right in your face, at other times obscured or off screen. You never know what you are to be faced with or when you are to face it, and the film practically masters suspense. Everyone does a fantastic job and it's great to see Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle return to their most notable roles.

All in all, I have no real complaints about the film. It gives each character personality and allows itself to be its own project while conjuring the fantastic qualities of the first. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I won't call out anyone that doesn't like it. I just have a hard time understanding how any fan of the original, or the series as a whole, could be unhappy with the result. It's a top-notch experience and I loved every step of it. There is apparently a possible trilogy in the works and even maybe a sequel to the third, unrelated film as well. But all I can speak for is this one now, and I loved what I saw. So yeah, I say go ahead and do yourself a favor by checking it out. Or he'll find you!

P.J. Griffin, HMS

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