Halloween

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Photo: Toronto International Film Festival

Michael Myers is back in a fierce update that turns Jamie Lee Curtis into a force of nature.

It would seem a prerequisite, but the people rebooting today’s ‘Halloween’ – journeyman director David Gordon Green and his frequent collaborator, actor Danny McBride, a co-screenwriter – really love ‘Halloween’. (When Rob Zombie tried doing his remake in 2007, you weren’t sure if he was enjoying himself or hating life.) Submitting to the new version is like driving a cushy Jaguar along familiar curves: So much of John Carpenter’s immaculate grammar is impossible to improve upon, so it’s simply been redeployed, sometimes with a small twist, sometimes not. Implacable killer Michael Myers still has a fondness for stiffly sitting up like a sprung jack-in-the-box; he still lurks in slatted closets and pins boyfriends to the wall with butcher knives.

What elevates ‘Halloween’ beyond mere fan service is the presence of Jamie Lee Curtis, whose willowy Laurie Strode has been converted, Sarah Connor-style, into a shotgun-toting shut-in with more than a hint of crazy about her. That’s a great reason to remake ‘Halloween’: Everyone’s waving around a gun these days, and the idea that the survivor of the so-called ‘Babysitter Murders’ would, 40 years later, become a militia-worthy nut with murderous instincts of her own has a sad symmetry to it. Laurie tells us she’s prayed for the day that Michael would escape from the loony bin, so she can have her vengeance. ‘Well, that was a dumb thing to pray for,’ a cop replies. But we’ve prayed for it, too.

It’s hard to care much about a pair of pushy British podcasters or, more critically, Laurie’s resentful adult daughter (Judy Greer) and any of the mouthy millennials who essentially function as Michael bait. (McBride lets his stonerish comic instincts get the better of the dialogue, which makes room for disquisitions about bánh mi sandwiches and being late for dance class.) But how do you beat Carpenter’s iconic synth score? You don’t. Some of the new music, co-composed by Carpenter’s son Cody and Daniel A. Davies, fits in beautifully: seesawing anti-lullabies that would have been at home among the analog stingers of the original. And when Michael wreaks havoc on a crowded suburban street loaded with trick-or-treating kids and parents on cell phones, some kind of bedrock horror rule is broken, deliciously.

By: Joshua Rothkopf

Posted:

Release details

Release date:
Friday October 19 2018
Duration:
0 mins

Cast and crew

Director:
David Gordon Green
Screenwriter:
David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, Jeff Fradley
Cast:
Jamie Lee Curtis
Judy Greer
Andi Matichak

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If there's one thing I know after watching this reboot of 'Halloween' it is this - Laurie Strode and Terminator's Sarah Connor need to get together and have a girls holiday where the cocktails are plentiful and the gunfire, heroics & general fighting-for-survival are minimal. 


I've watched the original version of this horror franchise legend but thankfully managed to avoid all the subsequent and fairly dire looking sequels. I'm not a huge lover of the series as a whole but I do like a good scare and recent films like 'It Follow', 'The Babadook', 'Get Out' and 'IT' have shown that horror done well can be incredibly enjoyable in a pulse-pounding, finger-peeking, heart-palpitations kind of way...sadly, this doesn't quite hit the same heights as those three gems.


It starts off fairly well - there's a good scene in the hospital where Michael Myers is awaiting transfer and the introduction to Jamie Lee Curtis (all crazy grey hair, sharp-shooting skills & serious attitude) reminds us of what an absolute bad-ass and an all-round awesome screen presence she is. Unfortunately, there are a few misses and the film suffers overall from just not being scary enough. There's more gore than tension and I don't think I actually jumped once during the 95 minutes running time. The problem isn't even the predictability though this is definitely a count-by-numbers plot line; it's more that it just gets a bit drawn-out and dare I say it, dull as it progresses. There's no originality and there's nothing we've not seen before from the gas-station-bathroom scene to the good-guy-who-turns-out-be-not-so-good and while I get with something like this, you want to reward the fans who've stuck with you throughout the decades since it first slashed its way on screen, you also owe it to them to deliver something that's matured and can hold its own against what else is being produced nowadays.


Curtis is fab as she always is, giving absolutely everything she's got and you both root for her & rest easy in the knowledge that she's got survivor written all over her scowl and her guns - literal and physical but some of the teen cast are annoying enough that no tears are shed when their eventual demises come to life. There's also no explanation for why Myers is the way he is - fair enough that he was a murderous 6-year old and maybe we don't need to know any more than that but scenes where he inexplicably enters random houses and viciously destroys those inside for no reason seem designed for nothing more than throwing in enough violence to satisfy the blood-thirstiest of audiences. Overall? Not a bad film but not as good as it should have been.