Review: Halloween (2018)

Jamie Lee Curtis should be the next Batman.

I’m not normally one for horror movies. They freak me out and make me paranoid that the murderous lunatic / deranged ghost / possessed doll is going to come out of the screen and personally stalk me. I’m here for a stupid, silly horror movie though, one that you can laugh at and ridicule while you drink. If you’re into that kind of thing, I strongly recommend Most Likely to Die (2015), and Satanic (2016), both of which are on Netflix. The former stars Perez Hilton and Heather Morris from Glee (2009 – 2015) dying ironic deaths during a high school reunion, and the latter is about idiot teenagers who think summoning spirits sounds like a fun detour on their way to Coachella. Quality entertainment.

But Halloween (1978) is a landmark in the horror genre. So when a new movie is released that ignores four decades worth of sequels and reboots and only keeps ties with the original film, I have to go see it. It’s also appropriate for the Halloween season. Also Jamie Lee Curtis. I always have time for Jamie Lee Curtis.

Screen Shot 2018-10-28 at 7.30.58 PM
Credit: amazon.com / Universal Pictures

Halloween is a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s original masterpiece, picking up with Laurie Strode decades after the night she escaped Michael Myers, the serial killer who had already murdered three of her friends. In that time, the once young and innocent babysitter has transformed into a gun-wielding, compound-living, doomsday prepper. Only the doomsday she’s prepping for carries a knife and wears a distinctive white mask.   When the bus carrying the incarcerated Michael crashes, he escapes and returns to the town of Haddonfield to once again inflict terror on Halloween night.

This is how you do a sequel 40 years after the original. Halloween is a well-crafted blend of homage to its 1978 namesake, as well as a tale full of new thrills and chills that are updated to work for a modern audience. Boy oh boy the homages…they are plentiful and they are expertly-executed. They’re so reminiscent of the original that I’d hate to spoil anything phenomenal that happens towards the end of the movie, but a few fun ones are Laurie watching her granddaughter Allyson through her classroom window, and Allyson and her friends smoking and walking down a street discussing their illicit plans for Halloween night. By the way, y’know in horror movies when you root for an idiot teen to get murdered? That’s Allyson’s stoner friend, Dave. Have fun sitting through his less-than-hilarious shenanigans.

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Credit: slashfilm.com / Universal Pictures

It’s time we talk about Jamie Lee Curtis, something I could do for hours on end. True Lies (1994), A Fish Called Wanda (1988), and of course, Freaky Friday (2003), I mean, she can do anything. Oh my God, and Scream Queens (2015 – 2016). The second season is uneven but the first is a brilliant mix of campy fun and horror, and Jamie Lee Curtis shines throughout the entire series. Duh, she’s one of the OG scream queens, a title she earned thanks to the OG Halloween. It’s so cool seeing how her iconic character, Laurie Strode, has evolved from where we last saw her in the first movie, to where she is in this new iteration. The PTSD she suffers from her encounter with Michael dominates her life and it’s a side of Laurie that Curtis plays to perfection. She captures the psychological damage and paranoia that someone who experienced her ordeal would have, and weaves it onto every move her character makes. You’d believe that Jamie Lee Curtis really spent the last 40 years in fear, preparing herself and her family for the day Michael Myers returns. Side note, her daughter is played by Judy Greer whom I love. She’s a chameleon, that one. She can go from bitchy to vulnerable at the drop of a hat and it’s really something.

Screen Shot 2018-10-28 at 10.36.05 PM
Credit: miaminewtimes.com / Universal Pictures

While the first Halloween was more of a thriller that relied on suspense and subtle, nuanced fear, this new version feels much more like the slasher films of recent memory. It features a lot more blood and guts than the original ever did, and it was at least 45 minutes in before anything truly frightening happened. No shade, horror is a hard thing to pull off. Let’s put it this way: I heard someone have a louder reaction to Allyson’s phone getting thrown into pudding, than when someone got brutally murdered. Tough crowd.

Although the crowd did seem to love the bountiful humour, which I can only assume is courtesy of screenwriter Danny McBride. That’s right, as in, the actor. Now, I’m guessing that he wasn’t hired solely for his comedic chops, but the way he handled comedy in this movie was wonderful. The comedic moments never dominate the movie or belittle it into  a farce or parody of the franchise. Instead, they perfectly cut the tension and allow you to laugh after witnessing scenes of grotesque horror, shocking violence, and Jamie Lee Curtis acting as the stoic, determined, badass heroine that Laurie Strode has become. My petition for Jamie Lee Curtis to play the next Batman officially begins now. Sorry Affleck.

Screen Shot 2018-10-29 at 12.04.35 AM
Credit: syracuse.com / Universal Pictures

Fans of the original will be delighted and more than satisfied, and it’s a solid and fun movie-going experience even if you’re new to the Halloween franchise. I’d recommend going to see this in theatres, but only if it’s a cool theatre where the audience can collectively and audibly react to what’s going on. I swear, there’s a scene where a dad tells his kid that he’ll, “be right back I’m just going to take a look around,” and everyone in my theatre groaned. They know what’s what.

Will you go see the new Halloween? Were you a fan of the original?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

 

 

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