Considered by many to be one of the seminal films of the horror genre, John Carpenter’s 1978 classic Halloween is receiving yet another sequel. Only this time, the slate has been wiped clean, this movie not acknowledging any of the series but the original.
The film follows Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), the survivor of the original killings in Haddonfield, as she confronts Michael Myers 40 years later after he escapes from the mental institution in which he was being held.
This was better than at least three-quarters of the horror movies that come out today, and better than most (if not all) of the other sequels in the series, but it pales in comparison to the original.
Unfortunately, this film seems to have lost touch with what made the original feel special. Instead, it is a much more modern, mainstream horror flick. It has some really great moments, but there are also some parts that disappoint.
For one, the movie lacks the intelligence of the original. A significant theme in the original was the idea of the “Boogeyman” punishing those who had been sinful. Everyone who died in that film had a reason to die, giving it overall symbolic meaning. That is not the case here. Instead, the killings are highly random, making the movie feel like a generic slasher cash-grab rather than the intelligent horror that should be expected.
Furthermore, the film abandons a focus on atmospheric tension in favor of more gore-based scares. There were a few moments that were creepy, but the film was never outright scary. Thankfully, there wasn’t many cheap jump scares, but the comparative abundance of gore was frustrating. None of the imagery is particularly horrifying, so the movie isn’t as impactful as it could be.
That being said, the film does some things well. There are lots of references in the script, including self-aware jokes and recreations of some of the iconic scenes from the original. These will undoubtedly be the biggest draw for fans and are really what keeps the movie enjoyable.
Additionally, the film does a very good job with the characters. The way in which the cat and mouse archetypes are reversed is quite interesting, although this doesn’t come into the story early enough. Some of the new characters, like Allyson, Aaron, and Dana, are also likable. Perhaps the biggest highlight of the movie, though, is the fact that all of the female characters are strong. Even the ones who perish don’t go out without a fight.
The film is also quite well-shot. The cinematography and the editing are both quite strong, with a high amount of complexity for the genre. The camera movements are very fluid, and the framing is aesthetically appealing. The production design is memorable too. The mask is great, with the additions making it even creepier. Additionally, the score by John Carpenter et al. does an excellent job of taking the iconic themes from the original’s soundtrack and giving them an inventive, modern twist.
The performances are good as well. Jamie Lee Curtis’s performance is wonderful. She obviously has a lot of love for the role (this franchise essentially started her career), and it shows. Will Patton does well in his role, filling an archetype from the original film, but doing enough to make it his own. The only real weak link in the cast is Judy Greer, although she eventually finds her own towards the end.
Overall, Halloween takes the series a step in the right direction, but fails to live up to its iconic predecessor. There’s still a lot to enjoy here, though.
Halloween opens in theaters October 19.