It’s been a long time coming. Since 1978 fans of Michael Myers have endured the ups and downs of their favourite slasher as he carved his way through the residents of Haddonfield, but never has captured the hearts and imagination of John Carpenter’s original vision.
We’ve seen Myers omitted from the franchise only to be brought back to stalk his niece, then inflicted with an ancient curse, played the part of a reality TV series, and then reimagined by director Rob Zombie with conflicting results.
It seemed that Myers was dead and buried, but when ‘hotter than hot right now’, production team Blumhouse started to taut the idea of bring him back to the screens once more, a new-found interest began to surface once again.
There were certain things that began to fall into place, such as the return of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode (albeit with slight reservation as they had done this before), which was rewarded further with the approval of Carpenter himself, plus part of his agreement was that he would provide the score. Hell yeah!
It might be a small thing but with the casting of Nick Castle to the Shape back to Myers cemented things for their storyline, which would be set 40 years after the original events transpired. The catch, none of the other movies in the franchise would exist. The producers would be picking up the baton without the sequels to muddy the water.
The other slight snag is that director David Gordon Green and his writing collaborator Danny McBride, normally associated with comedy were attached to steer this new direction. The screenplay they presented had the approval of those around them, but could they pull off a horror slasher and one that comes with so much expectation?
As the pre-credits began to roll, you suddenly felt that they had got the tone just right, ranging from the familiar score charging up the emotions and the image of the pumpkin rebuilding itself with a giant metaphor for the franchise. Halloween is back and they’re going to make it as damn good as they can, whilst keeping in tone of the original movie.
As the film unfolds it soon becomes apparent that what Green and McBride are telling isn’t just a typical horror film, but one of the trauma and the suffering that one faces when they have gone through a massive ordeal such as the one Laurie Strode faced all those years ago. What does that do to the psyche? What would happen to someone like Laurie and how would she cope back once faced with the reality of her situation? The choice was to place her as a survivor of sorts who is still fighting her demons, as she has become a modern day doomsday prepper, although in her case, Laurie isn’t preparing for the end of the world, but her inevitable last encounter with Michael Myers.
Jamie Lee Curtis does an amazing job of portraying Laurie and the impact that her character has had on her family. I’m not sure if I can recall her ever showing such raw emotion on screen, but she is able to deliver a full range of vulnerability, compassion, strength, and empowerment and with it she harnesses the other characters with her to produce a well-accomplished, solid movie. Laurie Strode is now a symbol of the effect that trauma has on those who’ve lived it or experienced it. In one scene, Jamie Lee Curtis is so broken in her portrayal that you can see the pain etched across her face as her whole body folds in on itself. It truly is a wonderful performance and a fitting one as we move in a time of change and recognition of the suffering that women have had to endure over the years, forced to bury their emotions in a world that didn’t or refused to understand.
On Laurie’s journey of torment is her daughter, Karen, (who has had to bear the suffering of a childhood trapped in fear) and her Granddaughter, Allyson (a symbol of hope and understanding). Allyson almost represents the overall message here for the Halloween franchise. We have to bypass a whole generation in order to rebuild for the future. Our hands rest in the youth of tomorrow and if anyone is going to tap into that generation, it’s Blumhouse.
That’s no to say that Halloween doesn’t ignore the people that have had to tolerate each new chapter, if anything the movie wears it on its sleeve with plenty of nods and references along the way. It’s a fine line to tread, but Green manages to keep a perfect balance of old and new, whilst still offering something fresh and serving decent bouts of nostalgia to please all and sundry.
There are some stints of humour along the way though. It’s not all doom and gloom. Green is a comedy director first and foremost but he doesn’t saturate the film with light-hearted moments, instead he delivers when the beats serve it and it lifts the film all the more, especially with the scene in which Julian is being babysat for by Allyson’s friend, Vicky. It’s a great little exchange between the two of them that you know will just go sour as soon as Michael enters the scene.
As for our beloved psychopath, Michael, he hasn’t gone without his own set of changes. Having been incarcerated for 40 years, he too has bottled up his emotions, stifled from a system that refuses to let him indulge in his passion for killing. So when he does break free from prison bus transportation, he unleashes with such brutality that hasn’t been present in the franchise before. This suppressed Michael will stop at nothing to go on his killing rampage, selectively picking his victims at will, before coming face to face with his nemesis Laurie again.
The climax of the movie also hits some great strides and rewards with the choices that the characters take to meet the conclusion and puts you through the wringer whilst leaving you pleasantly satisfied with the result.
“Welcome back Michael Myers.
David Gordon Green and Danny McBride have successfully resurrected new life into a much-loved franchise and delivered a movie that will delight both old and new generations alike.
Congratulations to the Blumhouse team. You’ve produced the best Halloween film in 40 years.”
– Saul Muerte