19th Oct2018

‘Halloween’ Review (Spoiler-Free!)

by Jason Brigger

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

The original Halloween, like most people, is my favorite horror film and the franchise, despite some issues (I’m looking at you Season of the Witch) continues to have a special place in my heart. Rob Zombie tried to bring the franchise back to prominence and despite an average first try, Zombie’s sequel failed and killed the new spin on the franchise before it had a chance to take off. Now 40 years since the original, comedian Danny McBride, of Eastbound and Down fame, and crew attempt to reboot the horror franchise by ignoring any film or event that occurred after the original. It’s an interesting strategy and one that pays off.

The Plot:

It’s been 40 years since Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) survived an attack on Halloween night from her psychotic murderous brother, Michal Myers (Nick Castle); an incident that left her older sister dead. Since that fateful night, Myers has been incarcerated in an institution for the mentally ill, refusing to speak to anyone, even his dedicated doctor, Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer), a protégé of Myers’ original doctor, Dr. Loomis. The attack 40 years ago transformed Strode from the innocent babysitter to a “be prepared” well-armed soldier that has been training for decades for the night she can kill Myers. The attack and living in a secluded and well-fortified cabin in the woods has caused Strode to become estranged from her only daughter Karen (Judy Greer), Karen’s husband Ray (played by an always funny Toby Huss) and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). Strode’s family feels she is paranoid and like the town of Haddonfield, wishes she can move on from that horrific night many years ago. In typical horror movie fashion, the bus transferring Myers to a new facility crashes, resulting in Myers escaping and attempting to finish the massacre he started so many years ago. Strode now gets what she has wanted for years… a terrifying showdown to end her murderous brother once and for all.

The Good:

  • Jamie Lee Curtis. I always admire an actor/actress that appreciates the role that made them famous and their willingness to reprise the role in an attempt to give a fresh start to the franchise. Curtis has spoken about her love of the Halloween franchise many times and her affection for the role shines through in the latest installment of Halloween. The transformation of her character from the original film to this film is a necessary and remarkable one in which the audience will love.
  • The twist in locations for the film. I won’t give any spoilers away but I really enjoyed the surprise change in location for the third act of the film. While I would have enjoyed seeing a little more of Haddonfield, the change in venue is a fun twist and presents evidence the future installments of the franchise do not need to stay in Haddonfield to be successful.
  • The appreciation of the original film. The writers did a tremendous job honoring the original film by recreating scenes from the original in the new film but adding a little “twist” to them. As a fan of the original, I enjoyed the little details the writers included the general audience may not notice but die-hard fans will appreciate.

The Bad:

  • Bad choices by the characters. Now let me preface this by stating I know it’s a horror film and if the characters don’t make questionable decisions, there wouldn’t be a film BUT with that being said, several bad and ignorant decisions by the characters were made in this film. If a serial killer is chasing you, maybe you shouldn’t leave your fortified house to check if it really is a police officer in the car. Maybe if a serial killer is chasing you, you shouldn’t run into the woods by yourself instead of running to the house with several people in it. Just a thought. These decisions don’t take away from the enjoyment of the film and I understand questionable decisions have to made to make a horror film a true horror film, but there are several scenes the audience will be shaking their heads.

The Middling:

  • The supporting cast. While the Strode family is well-defined, Allyson’s friends and certain fodder for Myers’ rampage, end up being very generic teenagers the audience never fully connects with or care about once they are murdered. The writers did a great job with rebooting the franchise but a little more background into some of Allyson’s friends would have been appreciated.

Final Grade: B+ (Very Good)

Halloween is not only a great homage to the original but the writing is clever and original enough to jumpstart a new franchise. Fans of the original film will appreciate the respect McBride, Green and the cast provide to the franchise while still attempting new ideas to move the franchise in a new direction. Halloween is not just a great throwback horror film it’s a good overall film.

You can catch Jason Brigger on the geek-centric podcast, The History of Bad Ideas, as new episodes are released every week at www.nerdly.co.uk or subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher and other podcasting apps. 
You can listen to their latest episode right here.
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