Halloween: Entertaining, scary, illogical sequel-slash-reboot

Review: Forget everything you knew about this franchise as Jamie Lee Curtis and Michael make a hokey return

Jamie Lee Curtis: holds the line in David Gordon Green’s Halloween

Film Title: Halloween

Director: David Gordon Green

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner, Nick Castle

Genre: Horror

Running Time: 105 min

Fri, Oct 19, 2018, 05:00

   

The 12th film in the Halloween franchise hovers somewhere between reboot and sequel. Forty years after the murderous events of the 1978 original and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is a survivalist granny with PTSD. Her paranoia and fears around Michael Myers has alienated her from her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter, Alyson (Andi Matichak).

And then he escapes just in time for Halloween and she gets to say: I told you so.

Just so we are clear: the many hours you spent watching Halloween II, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers and Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, the 1998 reboot Halloween H20 and its sequel – also featuring Jamie Lee Curtis – and the 2007 Rob Zombie reboot and its sequel? Forget them. You’ve wasted your life on non-canonical slasher flicks.

An early scene in Halloween 2018 sees a gaggle of teenagers dismiss the notion that Michael and Laurie are biological siblings. Boom. Everything you knew since 1981, the thread that has held together every Halloween sequel and the Rob Zombie films, has been unceremoniously yanked from your cultural life.

At least it’s an innovation of sorts.

David Gordon Green, whose output has hopscotched between post-Mallick reveries (George Washington), indie doodles (Prince Avalanche). elegant drama (Stronger) and stoner comedies (Pineapple Express) might once has seemed like an unlikely candidate to reboot John Carpenter’s most reworked creation, but by now all bets are off with that career trajectory.

Green and his regular writing collaborator Danny McBride had hoped to kill off franchise icon Dr Sam Loomis (a character essayed five times by Donald Pleasance and twice by Malcolm McDowell) until John Carpenter warned that “fans are gonna get pissed”.

Perhaps. But the alternative is this perfectly entertaining, decently scary, occasionally illogical, entirely predictable bit of fanservice. Shut up and play the hits.

Green has a good grasp or horror beats and timing which is more than most studio genre films can claim (looking at you, The Nun.) Still, Halloween 2018 is too hokey and ramshackle at the level of the script and shot to stand shoulder to shoulder with the carefully calibrated, fat-free 1978 original.

Save for a brief flashback in which the young Michael murders his topless teen sister, all sense of sexually motivated violence has been blanched from the project. The stalkings and killings are mostly well-executed – if that is the right phrase – but without any meaningful context or connection to the interchangeable victims. Many characters are hastily introduced and never seen again.

The actors all pull in different directions: Eastenders star Haluk Bilginer is agreeably fruity as the crazy doctor working Michael’s case; Judy Greer delivers every line like she’s in a wacky family sitcom; Jamie Lee Curtis holds the line. The intergenerational final act, meanwhile, is spoiled by a pointless sequence in which Alyson runs through the woods and because this theme was already teased out in Halloween H20.

It’ll do well enough for seasonal Blumhouse kicks. But it’s no Halloween III: Season of the Witch and it certainly doesn’t warrant tossing out the previous films.