I have a confession to make, I’ve never been into horror movies. Call me crazy but I really don’t like feeling scared, the feeling of being on edge, and of looking over my shoulder for the boogieman. In fact the only horror movie that I’ve been able to watch was John Carpenter’s original Halloween, in a well lit room with my cousin. So you can imagine my reservations on seeing it’s follow-up in a dark theater. Thankfully I was able to brave through it (with my hands covering up my eyes through some of it) and I throughly enjoyed my return to Haddonfield, Illinois.
It’s been 40 years since serial killer and freak of nature Micheal Myers went on a rampage through the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois and was captured after being shot by his psychiatrist Dr. Loomis. Michael, who is being moved to a high security hell-hole, is visited by two true crime podcaster who want to know more about his killing spree 40 years ago. Meanwhile, Laurie Strode (Jaime Lee Curtis) who has post-traumatic stress from the whole event has been preparing for Michaels inevitable escape and has driven her entire family away including her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). When Michael escapes on Halloween night, he’s out for blood and revenge on Laurie.
What works so well for the film is just how much the writers and director lean in to the original tone and aesthetic of the original. From moment one, when our podcaster’s are introduced to Michael, there is an impressive sense of tension that feels very in line with what made the original so scary. The first scene alone had me covering my eyes anticipating exactly what Michael would do next. It doesn’t rely on cheap jump scares (though there are some) and the movie is at it’s terrifying best when it’s building this sense of dread. My heart was pounding the entire time, and I actually grew to like the feeling a little bit.
I don’t think this movie would work as well as it does without the excellent Jaime Lee Curtis. She effortlessly steps right back into the role that made her famous and she brings some added depth to it. She does a fantastic job of playing a trauma-ridden Laurie, sure she’s awesome as the badass with a gun we see in the trailers, but I think she really sells it in the smaller moments. When she’s at dinner with her daughter and her daughter’s husband and has a small breakdown because of Michael being moved or when she’s interacting with her granddaughter. You can tell that she brought her A game and it brings some much needed depth to Laurie.
The main cast for that matter is really great too, particularly during the final act. Judy Greer, usually known for her comedic roles (Kitty Sanchez from Arrested Development) does a great job of playing Laurie’s daughter, Karen. She really sells the traumatic history between a herself and Laurie, and how it affected her childhood. Karen’s daughter, Allyson, played by Andi Matichak equally does a good job of playing the Laurie’s granddaughter, although she doesn’t have all that much to do and some of her best moments are just homages to the original.
I wasn’t expecting how funny Halloween turned out to be. You’d expect a movie like this to be all tension, all the time but these funny moments were well placed and much needed moments of levity. It all made sense as I was watching the credits and I found out that Danny McBride, yes Eastbound and Down’s Danny McBride, co-wrote it. It was a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one.
A horror movie is only as good as it’s unstoppable villain and once again, Michael Myers is the king. There is so much mystery behind Michael and the film really plays off that. Before Michael escapes, and he gets his iconic mask back, we never see his face. The camera pans away just as you think you’re finally going to see the monsters face and adds to the sense of terror. For all you die-hard horror fans there are some absolutely gruesome deaths, deaths that I think most people have come to expect from the franchise.
As much as I really enjoyed most of Halloween, there are a couple of glaring moments where I rolled my eyes and questioned what characters were doing. No where is this more apparent than Michael’s psychiatrist Dr. Sartain. Don’t get me wrong, Haluk Bilginer does a commendable job of playing the doctor, but there’s a certain moment near the end that really rubbed me the wrong way. It’s certainly not a deal breaker, but it just didn’t make a lot of sense.
There’s a lot of stereotypical horror movie decisions throughout that really frustrated to me. There are so many dumb decisions that could have easily saved do many people. I know that’s probably something I should expect from a horror movie and it makes it more exciting, but still it just bothered me.
A great sequel will use the original as a template and build on what made the original so great and that’s exactly what Halloween does. It’s tense, smart, funny, and most importantly, scary, all while paying homage to the original throughout. As I said in the beginning, I was a bit scared before, but I really liked Halloween and is well worth the price of admission.
Thank you guys for reading and follow me on Twitter @StarWarsBill.
May the Force be with you, always.