The Halloween franchise has been resting for almost a decade and fans were beginning to give up hope that they’d ever see notorious serial killer Michael Myers on screen again. His last outing was in the sequel to Rob Zombie’s reboot, Halloween II, in 2009 and it’s safe to say it didn’t set the box office on fire on its release. In 2016 after a failed attempt to make a third film in Rob Zombie’s Halloween series, it was announced that John Carpenter had signed on to executive produce a new instalment. Fans were left baffled in September 2017 when Jamie Lee Curtis announced that she would reprise her role as Laurie Strode, especially as she was killed off at the beginning of 2002’s Halloween: Resurrection.
As the film moved further into development and pre-production, it was revealed that all of the sequels would be ignored and that the new Halloween would be a direct sequel to the 1978 original. With Carpenter promising to take the film back to basics and Lee Curtis back on board, the signs were starting to look very promising. Directed by David Gordon Green (Stronger), who co-wrote the screenplay with Danny McBride (Eastbound & Down) and Jeff Fradley, Halloween has become one of the most-anticipated movies of the year and is looking likely to be the highest-grossing film of the franchise so far.
This new movie picks up just before Halloween, 40 years on from Michael Myers’ infamous murder spree. With the sequels being ignored, Laurie is no longer Michael’s sister and she has a daughter called Karen (Judy Greer) rather than a son called John (Josh Hartnett) as she did in 1998’s Halloween: H20. Now paranoid, estranged from her daughter and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), and living in a secluded and very secure home, Laurie has spent her life preparing for another showdown with Michael after he turned her life upside down. Locked away in a psychiatric facility, Michael hasn’t spoken in 40 years but is reawakened when he’s visited by plucky podcasters Aaron (Jefferson Hall) and Dana (Rhian Rees), who want to find out why he committed his 1978 massacre.
During a move to a new facility, where Michael was due to spend the rest of his life, the bus he was travelling on crashes and he makes an escape. As soon as Laurie hears that he’s on the loose, she kicks into action (much to the dismay of her daughter who still believes she’s paranoid) and attempts to hunt him down. Will Laurie finally put a stop to the menace that’s tormented her all these years?
During the promo circuit for Halloween, Jamie Lee Curtis has been very vocal about this latest film being a character piece about three generations of women dealing with trauma. Laurie’s life has been ruined due to her obsession with Michael, Karen was removed from her mother’s care when she was 12, and Allyson has had minimal contact with Laurie after being warned away by her mother. Lee Curtis does some of her best work in this film, really bringing the devastating effects of PTSD to light. This Laurie isn’t the strong young woman we met in 1978, she’s completely broken. She lives in constant fear and Michael has cost her not only her family but any chance of living a normal life.
Long-time fans of the franchise will find lots to love about Halloween. There are plenty of nods to the original movie as well as some of the sequels. The late Donald Pleasance who played Dr. Loomis is remembered several times and there are a handful of scenes that directly pay tribute to the 1978 original. These are really nice touches and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little shiver when they happened on screen. Nick Castle, who played The Shape aka Michael Myers in the first movie is back to play Michael again but for only one scene and James Jude Courtney plays the character for the rest of the movie.
Halloween taps into what made the original so effective. The sets are limited, the jump scares come thick and fast, and the body count piles up quickly once Michael escapes. It’s easily one of the bloodiest and nastiest films in the franchise so far, and there were plenty of screams among the audience I watched it with. There’s no convoluted plot here to contend with and you don’t have to try and remember anything about the films that came before. Even if you haven’t seen the original, you could dip into this one and still enjoy it as a standalone movie.
There’s no doubt that this is Jamie Lee Curtis’ movie but the other two female leads – Judy Greer and newcomer Andi Matichak – get chance to shine too. Greer has been underused before in films but she gets to kick some ass in Halloween. Matichak could easily continue the franchise should more Halloween films get commissioned, and there’s no way that’s not going to happen if this one is the box office smash it’s expected to be.
Halloween is everything a fan of the franchise could want it to be and more. I was worried going in that I would leave disappointed but that definitely wasn’t the case. I left the cinema wondering when I can go and see it again and how quickly. The team behind the film has pulled off an impressive achievement and I have a feeling that after a few more viewings, Halloween will be right up there behind the original. There’s definitely life in this franchise yet and Halloween has got things back on the right track.
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle, Haluk Bilginer, Will Patton, Rhian Rees, Jefferson Hall, Toby Huss, Virginia Gardner, Dylan Arnold, Miles Robbins, Drew Scheid, Jibrail Nantambu Director: David Gordon Green Writers: David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, Jeff Fradley Certificate: 18 Duration: 106 minutes Released by: Universal Pictures UK Release date: 19th October 2018