Cinema’s most revered scream queen and horror icon are back for a rematch, forty years in the making, as Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney) meet once again on Halloween night.
Director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Stronger) ignores the muddled continuity of all but John Carpenter’s 1978 original, picking up in real time as sole survivor Laurie Strode has spent decades traumatised but determined for revenge: ‘He’s waited for this night… he’s waited for me… I’ve waited for him.’
But Laurie never returned to a normal life, instead she prepared, by transforming her herself into a weapon and her house into a Home Alone style fortress, although with more bunkers and bullets than swinging paint cans.
All this came at a cost, as Laurie lost her daughter, Karen, to child services at twelve years old (played in her later years by Judy Greer) and has a strained but loving relationship with her granddaughter, Allyson (newcomer Andi Matichak).
It’s great to see Greer in a starring role in a film largely about a complicated mother-daughter relationships having been typecast as a ‘concerned mom’ in recent blockbusters like Jurassic World and Ant Man. Although she could have still been given more to do, she has the films best air punch moment which completely takes you by surprise.
Across the county, Michael Myers has been in captivity and studied endlessly (there’s a nod to Dr. Loomis) and is visited by two British podcast journalists, a clever incorporation of a modern phenomenon. In one of the best big-screen openings, they try to provoke Myers by waving his mask at him like a piece of meat, as the music and tension ratchet to be relieved by a trifecta of a recreation of the original’s title sequence, the iconic orange typography and the piercing score.
Nostalgia seeps through Halloween, with butchered babysitters and an ever-present Myers, obscured by bed sheets waving on a washing line, yet it’s in keeping with the films tale of destiny.
The third-act confrontation borders on the conventional as characters routinely make stupid, unconvincing decisions but Curtis anchors this perfectly. Curtis has reinvigorated the character (and franchise) with her performance as she seamlessly sells the crazy and the compassionate and delivers some great, if corny, lines: ‘Happy Halloween, Michael!’
Halloween is at its best and scariest when Myers escapes on October 31st and lurks amongst the trick-or-treaters in sub-urban Haddonfield. The meticulous kills are disturbingly fun to watch, as the camera tracks Myer’s animalistic attacks, where several victims become human kebabs. Like all good horrors, Halloween is an invasion of the safety of the home and that’s the source of the movie’s best slasher sequences.
Light on jump scares and revelling in its predictability, it may be too much of a mainstream crowd-pleaser for horror’s hard-core. An over reliance on what’s came before, especially in 1978, results in a diluted but occasionally funny script from David Gordon Green, Jeff Fradley and comedic actor Danny McBride. Halloween might not sit alongside horror’s recent 5-star films – like Get Out or Hereditary – or even Carpenter’s classic, but it is enormous fun and worth it for a game Jamie Lee Curtis.