22nd Oct2018

‘Halloween’ Review (Second Opinion)

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Nick Castle, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney, Haluk Bilginer, Will Patton, Rhian Rees, Jefferson Hall, Toby Huss | Written by David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, Jeff Fradley | Directed by David Gordon Green

halloween-2018-poster

David Gordon Green and Danny McBride’s Halloween has set itself up as the forty year sequel to John Carpenters 1978 adored original, advertently, canonising itself as the one and only true sequel in a franchise that’s been in the grave more times than a skeleton and with retcons and continuity errors with each new entry in order to survive a plague of disastrous results in each predecessor, only resulting in more dumbfounded timeline confusion.

If anything Green and McBride’s film conquers the said issue of canon confusion. It ignores, somewhat fairly, the latter entries after John Carpenters’ departure, including the much underrated 1981 sequel and all Donald Pleasance as well as Curtis absentee entries. Of course, the reboots of H20, its abhorrent sequel Ressurection and Zombies much misunderstood 2007 remake and the 2009 sequel are gone. Halloween (2018) a terrible title if i may say so, even retcons or guises multiple aspects of the mythology. The brother relationship of Laurie and Michael is mere rumour and the haunting supernatural elements of Myers himself have been toned down significantly. Yet with those fourty years inbetween 1978 and 2018 to create a lore of intrigue and reflection this latest entry does very little in the wake of achievement.

Halloween (2018) is a mere re-telling of a story we’ve seen in aggravated abundance. Astonishingly contextually within its own franchise on multiple occasions. It’s this striking detail that creates such confusion with the intention or direction moving forward. It acts upon a dozen or so intentions as a reboot, semi-remake, retooling, sequel and finale all rolled into one. An identity crisis is probably the best fitting description and a coincidence this is not. Various nods and rhymes to the franchise are clearly on display, some fun nods and others strong homages that don’t necessarily allow Halloween to stand and breathe on its own. For when Green’s film does inject laters of originality it’s far too often than not ready to swiftly move on from those events and walk down the path that has been followed before, mainly in terms of character trajectories. Even then it has moments of genius and originality planted but carelessly throws such away in timid genre conventions of benign teenage issues.

Green does bring a sophisticated dramatic edge to proceedings. His direction style is slick and stylish. In particularly an atmospheric long-take, one of the better original Halloween homages on display. He understands space on with camera and setting, much like horror aficionado James Wan. In doing so the tension and atmosphere are incredibly subversive and spectacular with the pressure and stress for survival wonderfully implemented. Made more so dramatic and intoxicating with the outstanding screen presence of Michael Myers, who is unequivocally relentless on screen. Utlisiled to a state of perfection. Green and McBride must be commended on the level of restraint here, byt not effectively overindulging on such a horror icon and vastly altering his demeanour, for which has been tried and tested with little effect throughout his hisotry.

It is the strong and expertly crafted performances of the three female leads that do push this entry into new grounds. Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer and newcomer Andi Matichak, play three generations of the Strode family and are simply outstanding. All have individual moments of exceptional heroism and the ability to truly embark on delving into a character with significant depth. Especially that of the family dynamic itself. Curtis expertly performs a damaged and mentally tormented Laurie with glorious effect. Multiple sequences of Laurie Strode interacting with her family that just concern the film and dialogue are highlights. Matichak impresses with a role that has shades and snippets of both Curtis and Greer. The role slowly but surely heads down a similar path to what we’ve seen but feels ever so human and raw. It is Judy Greer that steals the show. It does feel as the film progresses that she is in-fact being wasted and left to the sidelines, but when the film wants to fire her shot it does nothing but succeeds.

All in all, Halloween (2018) feels like it skates around the subject. It doesn’t want to make any distinctive decisions or inject its own mythology upon a new ground. Resulting in a final product that feels both diluted and far too safe for the genre and for whats essentially been done before in whats an efficient and entertaining 20-year sequel H:20. The same exact momentum that happened then is on display here. A factor that many seem to neglect and only showcases the filmmakers and producers haven’t come too far in terms of expression and originality.

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