Movie Review: “Halloween” – No Tricks, All Treats

Written by Jeremiah Greville October 31, 2018

Halloween 2018

Highest opening box office in the history of the franchise. Second-best October opening ever. Biggest opening weekend for a film starring a woman over 55. 2018’s Halloween is a bona fide hit, a perfect holiday horror to give you those seasonal scares. If you’re a fan of slasher films or searching for something fun to watch this Halloween, look no further. Halloween is a genuinely good flick and a return to form for the aging series. Jamie Lee Curtis, Nick Castle, and even John Carpenter have all returned from the 1978 original to usher in this franchise reboot. And their work shows in the final product, a film that respects the past while building toward the future.

40 years after the events of the original Halloween, Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle both return to reprise their roles as Laurie Strode and Michael Myers. Ignoring the events of other films in the series, the new Halloween is a direct sequel to the first. While Michael’s been kept captive for the last forty years, Laurie—the sole survivor of his original massacre—has been thoroughly training and preparing for his eventual return. When Michael escapes on Halloween night in 2018, the two finally come head to head once more. Judy Greer and Andi Matichak also star as Karen and Allyson, Laurie’s daughter and granddaughter, respectively. David Gordon Green directs while John Carpenter returns as composer and executive producer.

“He’s waited for me. I’ve waited for him.”

Now, while I’m not a big fan of slasher films, I do have a lot of affection for John Carpenter’s work, and can attest to the quality of the original Halloween. Many of the horror movie tropes we now take for granted were perfected in his low budget masterpiece, and while the slasher genre has often suffered from too much gore and too little subtlety, the original Halloween gets the mix just right. The new Halloween strikes a similar balance, while still upping the ante with visceral onscreen carnage. Many, many people die in this film, but their deaths never feel overly gory or flashy. While some are intentionally disturbing (it IS a horror film, people), none of them feel ‘shlocky’ or cheap. Serious slasher film fans probably won’t find any novelty here, but casual fans should be delighted.

Halloween 2018

Michael Myers may be the same serial-killing force of nature he always was, but Laurie Strode is now very different. Gone is the innocent babysitter of the original, and in her place is a cold-blooded PTSD-ridden prepper bad-ass. Because of this, the entire movie takes on a new tone. While the original Halloween thrived on tension and dread, the new film functions on shock and anticipation. We aren’t scared for Laurie this time—we’re looking forward to her eventual confrontation with Michael. Every kill he makes is just more evidence to back up his threat level for the final conflict. Instead of existing for their own sake, they’re really just markers and stepping stones. Each is a letter in a sign reading YOU MUST BE THIS EVIL TO FACE LAURIE STRODE.

“Evil is real.”

But that’s not to say that Halloween isn’t entertaining. While the overall vibe is different this time, it’s still a well-made, well-acted, well-paced, and competently-directed film. Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie may be driven and prepared, but she’s still a woman wracked with years of PTSD and trauma. Curtis plays the part beautifully, allowing Laurie’s humanity and vulnerability to shine through without ever undercutting her competency or cunning. She’s the type of flawed, three-dimensional heroine that we desperately need to see more of. Curtis deserves all of the praise she’s been getting for this film, and I hope that her success means more roles like this for older actresses.

Halloween 2018

The plot and script for Halloween, however, are nothing to write home about. They get the job done, setting up the tension and final conflict over a series of brutal murders. But not much else. The same horror movie plot contrivances and leaps of logic you’ve seen a million times abound here. Cellphones are lost for silly reasons, people make stupid choices in the face of danger, etc. No, Halloween doesn’t break the mould–and it seems silly in retrospect to ever expect it to. The result is a classic slasher flick re-imagined in the vein of a ‘versus’ film. Think Alien vs. Predator, or Freddie vs. Jason. Laurie isn’t a victim this time, she’s a contender. And Halloween is a match-up 40 years in the making.

“There’s a reason we’re supposed to be afraid of this night.”

If you’ve read or watched any other reviews for Halloween, chances are you’ve heard about a strange choice in the third act. It’s tough to talk about without giving it away, especially because it’s one of the only legitimate surprises in the film. Unfortunately, I still have to mention it here because it’s such a strange and useless sequence. While it could have been a unique and daring twist for the final act of the film, it lands with a thud and disappears moments later. Such a pointless bit should have been edited out of the final print, and I don’t know why they left it in. It’s a glaring flaw in an otherwise great film, a red herring that serves no purpose and goes nowhere.

Halloween 2018

One flaw, however, is still pretty incredible for a slasher film in 2018. There was a time when the slasher sub-genre dominated the larger horror movie market. Funny enough, this started with the release of the original Halloween. With the new sequel living up to heights of its predecessor, a resurgence in slasher films could be on the horizon. But they’ll have to be treated with the care and respect given here, with a focus on character and pacing over gore. Hardcore slasher fans won’t be scared or surprised by the new Halloween, but they should still enjoy the care given to the final product. If you’re in the mood to see three generations of bad-ass women take on a legendary horror villain, give this flick a chance. No tricks, all treats. Halloween is just plain good.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Halloween 2018 - McFarlane Poster

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About Jeremiah Greville

Jeremiah Greville is a pretty rad beard that's attached itself to a human face. The beard likes movies, television, comic books, and gentle finger rubs. The human likes pizza and sleep. When they work together, they write reviews. Hope you enjoy them!

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