HALLOWEEN (2018)

  • Release Date: 26/10/2018
  • Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney, James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle, Haluk Bilginer, Will Patton
  • Director: David Gordon Green

Comparisons are unavoidable when you make a film that is a sequel to a cult classic and wants you to believe that every other film between the original and this one doesn’t exist. Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978) was a cult classic and it initiated a sub-genre within horror which till date remains effective if done well. Halloween has become a cult classic over the years and it’s influence is evident in other films. Halloween has also sprawled 10 sequels and a host of other comics, books, and merchandise. But we have to agree that the sequels have not exactly been great. Hence when Halloween (2018) was announced and I learned that it would be directed by David Gordon Green (Stronger, Our Brand is Crisis) my hopes soared for finally getting a film that would a worthy sequel to the original.

Michael Myers has been in a mental institution ever since his capture. Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) traumatized by her faceoff with him has spent her life preparing for the day when he comes back to hunt her. She has even subjugated her daughter to training and exercises in preparation for that fateful day. Her daughter was taken away from her by child services and grew up to be not only dismissive of her fears but also distant from her. Laurie, however, has kept a tab on her granddaughter and daughter as she believes that Michael will come back to take revenge on her. The fateful day soon arrives when Michael escapes from the mental institute and comes back all guns blazing against Laurie and her family.

As far as the positives go, Halloween gets the family dynamics right. The relation between Laurie and her granddaughter is just about perfect. David Gordon Green hits the sweet spot between being melodramatic and distant. The chemistry between the two feels real but never stretched. The audience is taken in by their act enough to care for the well being of the characters. This was critical in ensuring that the horror and the chills were real and affecting. Even the dynamics between Laurie and her daughter is pretty effective.

The action sequences in the film are wonderful. I was surprised by the scarcity of actual macabre which I believe would be aplenty in a film made in 2018. They take a more subtle approach to the violence which still works well. The trademark Halloween tropes work just fine and since they are well done you never get irritated or detached from them. One sequence, in particular, that got to me was the one in which Michael goes from house to house on Halloween night killing random people with random things. The climax too will send shivers down your spine. My only complaint from it will be that Laurie’s character doesn’t exactly show as much intelligence and preparation as she should have considering the fact that she was preparing for the showdown with Michael for years. However, that’s a nit-pick that I don’t think will be much of an issue for those transfixed on the action. I loved the grizzled mask of Michael. I believe it is the best mask for Michael till date.

Jamie Lee Curtis is perfect as Laurie. Her fears feel real. Her paranoia feels well-placed. She is never melodramatic. She strikes up a great chemistry with the other actors and above all, she feels apt and perfect in handling the action sequences in which she is captivating. One look at her and you believe that she could very well be that person who has escaped a thoughtless murderer once and has spent her life preparing to avenge her friends in her next encounter with the maniac. Andi Matichak gives her able company and so does Judy Greer. Even though the granddaughter character doesn’t have much to do, Matichak’s act keeps her bearable. Judy Greer does great in the last scene with a surprise that I believe will be loved by all.

Coming to my issues with this film, it lacks a sense of urgency. When or if compared with the original, this film doesn’t have the kind of unnerving feel to it that was a hallmark of the original. There are scenes here where practically nothing happens and you are forced to ask yourself why these scenes were put up in the first place apart from the obvious reason of adding to Michael’s body count. There is a pub scene involving a dance that happens for no reason. There is a totally unnecessary romance that should not have been there. There are two initial characters that kick off the proceedings but are dispatched off abruptly. The film recreates innumerable scenes from the original and other sequels that were hardly an effective way of giving homage. The character of Officer Hawkins (Will Patton) was just beginning to look promising going by his history with Laurie. But the director decides to shun his character abruptly.

When I walk into a sequel to a film that was made 40 years back, I am definitely expecting to get something new and unexpected through the course of it. But unfortunately, this film is a re-tread of most of the steps of the previous Halloween films with very little in terms of ingenuity. I was also baffled by a strangest-of-strange choice made towards the end of the film which was also thrown away in a matter of minutes. It was totally unnecessary. Instead, the film would have been served better had it concentrated more on the character of Laurie. There was also a lot of comedy that was totally misplaced and unwarranted. It only made the lack of atmosphere in the film that much more evident.

Suffice is to say that Halloween could have been great and it shows in multiple scenes. But because of the reasons mentioned above, it falls short of greatness. I was really hoping for this one to spring a surprise and it did get my blood pumping in certain scenes but it just couldn’t rise above its mediocrity. Jamie Lee Curtis is great and she is almost 80 % of all that is good about this film. If you are looking for some murder and mayhem and can do without atmosphere and feel, Halloween will be enjoyable for you. The fans of the original will be disappointed.

Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)

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