The dual-review film criticism site: first a spoiler-free review, then an in-depth Alternate Take.

Reviewed by James C. Taylor.

Director David Gorden Green
Length 106 minutes
Certificate 18
Rating ********--
Filmmaking: 4  Personal enjoyment: 4

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On October 31st 1978, Michael Myers, having escaped the sanitarium in which he had been held after butchering his sister at the age of six, returns to his hometown of Haddonfield. The adult Michael’s killing spree, as depicted in Halloween (1978), stalls as he becomes fixated on the resilient Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). The Night He Came Home (as per the film’s tagline) ends in Michael’s defeat. Halloween (2018) picks up forty years later. Michael (James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle, credited as ‘The Shape’) has been incarcerated over this period while Laurie has herself in many ways been imprisoned by her trauma. She is physically detached from the world, rarely leaving her house-turned-survival-fortress, and is estranged from her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). When Michael breaks out and immediately hones in on Haddonfield, Laurie is pulled back into the hunt she’s spent the last four decades anticipating.

While forty years have seemingly made no impact on Michael’s determination, Halloween’s (2018) successes are rooted in how it blends resurrection with revision. The film ostensibly endeavors to recapture the style and sensibility of John Carpenter’s 1978 low-budget masterpiece. Seven previous sequels’ narratives are erased from continuity and Rob Zombie’s reboot dismissed. Yet these previous installments are by no means ignored. Instead 2018’s Halloween sifts through four decades of accumulated tropes and ideas, selecting which to retain and which to dispel. The first half of the film can feel unassured, sometimes jarring in attempts to fuse a sparse style approximating its 1978 forebearer with a somewhat more modernised Haddonfield. However, as the action progresses the more disruptive modern elements are discarded or better incorporated, and director David Gordon Green demonstrates a flair for crafting effective set-pieces that don’t just simulate John Carpenter’s from the original. The presentation of Michael recognizes the cipher-like qualities that make him so terrifying as momentum builds toward a gripping and immensely satisfying third act. Of the two returning central characters, Laurie is the one who is developed, her forty years of torment and preparation given great weight by Curtis. Ultimately, in reviving the archetypal slasher film’s killer and heroine four decades on from their first showdown, Halloween displays an uncanny awareness of which of this franchise’s tropes should be resurrected - and which can benefit from some sharpening.

You can read the in-depth Alternate Take here

This review was published on October 31, 2018.

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