The Halloween season is a time to revel in scares, blood, and hair-raising tension, and this film delivers all three with the unstoppable Michael Myers and a generation of strong women.
40 years ago on Halloween night, Michael Myers tormented the fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois and murdered 5 unsuspecting people. Laurie Strode was the sole survivor of the serial killings, and these events have placed a traumatic burden on her that is very apparent in this well-executed slasher film that has wisely disregarded the jumbled mess of a continuity in the Halloween franchise. Jamie Lee Curtis, renowned “Scream Queen”, reprises her role as a hardened, paranoid Laurie Strode that has managed to alienate nearly everyone close to her. Her daughter Karen, played by Judy Greer, has cut all ties with her after having been trained to fight at a young age. However, she and her granddaughter Allyson, played by Andi Matichak, maintain a closer bond. This trio of women builds the emotional core of this film. All three cope with and fight the evil of Michael Myers in their own unique way. Strode has spent over half her life preparing, perhaps waiting, for him to return so she can put him in a grave. Jamie Lee Curtis’s acting excels at selling her troubled psyche. The internal battle between loving her estranged family and dealing with the very real threat of a killer is well-balanced throughout the film and culminates in a satisfying conclusion. Karen is in her own unique dilemma as she must choose to accept her upbringing over the normal, suburban life she has built for herself. Judy Greer is far from the star of this film, but in the scenes she has, aside from a couple clunky lines, does a great job at selling the motherly, and daughterly, fear in the face of genuine danger. Allyson is the untrained participant that is thrusted into this war. Unfortunately, she is given little to do besides being the typical scared teenager. The rest of the cast, ranging from hormonal teenagers to elderly sheriff officers, are relegated to unremarkable canon fodder for the one and only Michael Myers.
A Real-Life Boogeyman
Halloween is very much grounded in reality. No supernatural curses, no magic spells, no demons rising from Hell. Michael Myers is a man on a mysterious mission that feels as though he cannot be stopped. A theme throughout the movie was if Michael Myers could be prompted to speak. It was a smart decision to keep him mute the entire time as that would demystify Michael and keep him from being this personification of pure evil. His kills are brutally gorey, relentless, and never fail to make the viewer jump from their seat or recoil in utter horror. Brilliant use of practical effects and CGI turn his kills into an impressive spectacle. Jump scares are spread out throughout the 106-minute runtime, but they are well-earned as they are the peak of the tension-filled moments. The film begins with an unsettling opening in broad daylight, then slows down for little under half an hour until it gets to the real scares of the film, but once it does, the tension only continues to ramp up. Michael presents this sickening dread, as if no one, not even the gun-toting Laurie Strode, is safe from this near-unstoppable killing machine. Nick Castle returns to play the character as a horrifying force a nature. Wielding a kitchen knife and the iconic white mask, his silence alone is enough to send goosebumps down your spine.
The classic Halloween theme makes a triumphant return and it never lets you forget it. From the 70’s styled opening credits to the thrilling climax, the theme is there to invoke fear, hopelessness, and even nostalgia. The score itself is a pleasant mix of old and new. Electronic synths and electric guitars match the pace and tension of moments in the film. The camerawork uses wide shots to fully capture Michael’s kills without a single cut, no pun intended. The most notable shot is a several-minute long one take of Michael strolling through a neighbourhood on Halloween night as he claims his victims. This film could have trimmed down on character perspectives. The story sticks with one or two characters, telling us their story, as if to build a connection to them before they meet their inevitable demise. This distracted me from a few three-dimensional characters that are able to carry this film. The jumping around from perspective to perspective made me long for certain storylines to progress, and actually made me excited for certain characters to be brutally off’d by Michael Myers.
Halloween can be considered as a another entry in a long-line of well-crafted film in the horror genre, and a return to the “slasher” trend. Skin-crawling score, magnificent practical effects, and dread that utterly permeates through the viewer. Michael Myers is a formidable, terrifying antagonist to his equal, Laurie Strode. The two opposing forces have an intense feud that is supported by Strode’s family and is weighed down by disposable, flat characters. Fortunately, scares and the adrenaline rush that come with watching this film make it a must-see this Halloween season.