Arts movie review

The Halloween you’ll never forget

‘Halloween’ was met with initial skepticism by many, but its smart plot, great cast, and timely messages mix perfectly with the nostalgia and homage to John Carpenter’s original

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Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode in 'Halloween.'
Courtesy of Universal Pictures (Andrew Eccles)

Directed by David Gordon Green
Written by David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, Jeff Fradley
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner, Nick Castle
Rated R, Now Playing

The original Halloween is a classic, and like many classics, remakes and sequels never quite reach the level of the first. My first reaction to hearing about David Green’s new sequel to Halloween  was skepticism. I figured it was almost certainly going to be horrible. How could it not be? Why do you need another remake 40 years after the original?

I’m happy to say, Halloween more than justifies itself as a master class in the history of horror.

The plot of the new Halloween picks up in the same universe as the first, but 40 years later. Michael Myers has been locked up for those decades, in an institution. Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) has also been locked up in a sensea cage of her own making. She has become a survivalist, creating a compound out of her house, and in the process alienating her family in the desire to “protect” them. Her own trauma has bled down the family tree and seeped into the lives of her children and their children. She cannot escape what happened to her decades before and neither can those around her.

Anyone who’s watched horror films knows what happens next, and Michael doesn’t stay locked up for long. No one believes Laurie about the danger coming to them, but it comes nonetheless. The film winks at its audience not only in the tropes it subscribes to, but also the tropes it inverts, or subverts altogether. Just as Michael seemed to appear and disappear at will, and move in an otherworldly way in the first film, so too does Laurie in this one. One scene takes place in Laurie’s house as she is tracking down a wounded Michael and pokes into the various closets to see if he’s there - just as she hid there 40 years ago.

Halloween draws from the best pieces of the horror films of the 80s, and because of this, it winds up being a delightfully fun movie. It’s going to make audiences squirm, laugh, and shout, “oh come on!” when a character makes one of those trademark stupid horror film decisions. Yet, at the end of the day, it’s not a movie without a message. It speaks to generational trauma, and how the pains of those who came before us affect us in ways that aren’t always immediately evident. It points to how this emotional labor is predominantly shoved upon non-men by our society, and the way that this affects them.

This movie attempts to be many things, and, like many good horror films, it succeeds at each of them. It’s fun. It’s meaningful. It’s clever. It’s funny. It’s scary. It is all of these things and more. On top of all of this, the cinematography, courtesy of Michael Simmonds (previously the cinematographer of Paranormal Activity 2) is gorgeous and reveals just enough to the viewer without revealing too much. Additionally, the music, courtesy of John Carpenter, brings us back into the atmosphere of the first film without seeming stale.

Viewers may go to Halloween for some gore and some scare - and I can assure them there is no lack of either (particularly the former, which surpasses that of the original). But this Halloween is a phenomenal movie on multiple levels, and easily holds its own against the original, representing a high point for the slasher flick in the late 2010s.