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Halloween (2018) Review

Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language & horror
Cast:
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Judy Greer as Karen
Andi Matichak as Allyson
Will Patton as Frank Hawkins
Virginia Gardner as Vicky
Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney as Michael Myers/The Shape
Director: David Gordon Green

It’s been 40 years since Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) survived a vicious attack from crazed killer Michael Myers (Nick Castle) on Halloween night. Locked up in an institution, Myers manages to escape when his bus transfer goes horribly wrong. Laurie now faces a terrifying showdown when the masked madman returns to Haddonfield, Ill. – but this time, she’s ready for him.

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The original Halloween in 1978 has been cemented as one of the all time horror classics. When it comes to the sequels however, none of them really received a great amount of love, with most of them seeming to have mixed results at best. Even the remakes by Rob Zombie were really divisive. It’s been 16 years since the last film of the main series, and 9 years since Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 and now we are finally getting another Halloween movie. This time its not another remake, instead it’s a direct sequel to the original set 40 years ago (appropriately), not acknowledging any of the prior sequels. I really dug the first movie (it’s the only movie in the series I’ve seen), and with Jamie Lee Curtis returning and David Gordon Green (director of Stronger, Joe and Pineapple Express) directing this, things were looking rather good for the newest instalment. As the direct follow up to the original movie, Halloween 2018 succeeds really well. It doesn’t quite instil the amount of horror and creepiness that I would’ve liked but I nonetheless had a great time with it.

As previously mentioned, Halloween 2018 (I’m calling it that to separate it from the first movie otherwise its going to get really confusing) retcons all the Halloween movies except for the first movie. It also retconned the whole thing about Michael and Laurie being siblings from Halloween 2. Unless I mistook some aspects of things, it seemed like it might’ve retconned some things about the ending of the original film as well. On top of that they wanted to tell the story with Laurie Strode being traumatised, and how trauma stays with the victim and how it affects others (particularly her family). If there’s anything that Halloween 2018 has contributed that the other Halloween movies seemingly hadn’t, it’s that. That whole aspect was done really well. The writing of the movie was pretty good as well. One thing that it does get better than the original movie is the dialogue, the first movie could have some good dialogue and some really bad dialogue, but Halloween 2018 has some consistently good dialogue. There is also quite a noticeable amount of humour in it, and it’s not surprising considering that Danny McBride is one of the writers. None of it took away from the movie in terms of scares, and does make the experience more fun. This brings me to the next aspect, the scares, Halloween 2018 didn’t really scare me. Now the original Halloween didn’t scare me much but it still handled the tension pretty well. While there is some good tension in the third act of Halloween 2018, the rest of it wasn’t that creepy or that tense at all, I still had fun with it but I was hoping for more of that. Most horror movies don’t scare me so this wasn’t a huge bummer for me, I just wished there was more than what we got. The movie also has some clichés and tropes that follow on from the Halloween movies, for example some people do some really stupid things that put themselves in direct danger. With that said, it’s not an easy task making a newer Halloween movie, because if you remove a lot of the tropes and clichés that might be holding the movie back, you might remove the aspects that make the movies what they are. It wasn’t a huge problem for me, just a little annoying to see some of them re-emerging. Although at some points they do poke some fun at them. Halloween 2018 is an hour and 40 minutes long, which was overall the right length for the movie, it certainly helps that the pacing is good, considerably faster than the original movie.

Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode is one of the best part of the movie, she’s fantastic here. 4 decades from the first movie, Laurie is traumatised and has basically prepared for Michael’s return since his killing spree on Halloween, something that has pushed her away from everyone, especially her daughter and granddaughter. She is convincing as a strong and capable person, yet is very vulnerable at the same time, it still feels like Michael Myers could easily kill her. The rest of the cast also works really well. Judy Geer and Andi Matichak play Laurie’s daughter and granddaughter respectively and they also did very well.

David Gordon Green’s direction is pretty great. The way a lot of the movie is shot is reminiscent of the way that the original Halloween was shot, the cinematography on a whole was great. There is also a tracking shot following Michael Myers in one part and it has to be one of the best directed sequences of the Halloween movies. There are even scenes and moments which are calling make to the original movie, and it never feels forced, you’re aware of it but its not like over-relying on nostalgia. The violence of Halloween 2018 is a lot more bloody and gory than the original movie. At times the violence is minimalistic and restrained, at other times it is fully brutal and on display. Think 80% of the graphic violence from Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies mixed with the silent but deadly Michael Myers from the original. He’s also gotten very creative with his kills, stand out kill involves Jack-O-Lanterns, that’s all I’ll say. Michael Myers is back and with a vengeance. As I said, the movie didn’t really convey a very creepy or unsettling vibe in the movie (although it does have some good tension in the third act), but it does make Myers really an intimidating force of nature. The score is once again done by John Carpenter and it is great, its very similar to the score of the original, yet updated and modernised enough and really adds a lot to the movie. Both films wouldn’t work as well without them. On a side note, Michael Myer’s mask is great here. Just on appearance alone, its up there with the original Halloween and the Rob Zombie Halloween movies as the masks that are good.

Halloween 2018 is a great follow up to the 1978 classic. As a horror movie its not as great as I would’ve liked, it isn’t very scary and falls into many of the clichés and tropes that the original movie and series was known for. But much of the aspects are praiseworthy, the cast is good (with Jamie Lee Curtis being particularly great), Michael Myers is a force of nature and it’s entertaining overall. I haven’t seen the other Halloween movies after the original but I can’t imagine that the sequels are better than this one. I feel like Halloween 2018 ended things perfectly for the Halloween series but I have a feeling that there’s going to be more of them. If that’s really what’s going to happen, I hope they at least add or do something to make each movie feel fresh and new.

Halloween (1978) Review

Time: 91 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Nick Castle as Michael Myers/The Shape
P. J. Soles as Lynda Van Der Klok
Nancy Kyes as Annie Brackett
Director: John Carpenter

On a cold Halloween night in 1963, six year old Michael Myers brutally murdered his 17-year-old sister, Judith. He was sentenced and locked away for 15 years. But on October 30, 1978, while being transferred for a court date, a 21-year-old Michael Myers steals a car and escapes Smith’s Grove. He returns to his quiet hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, where he looks for his next victims.

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With the latest Halloween movie coming out less than a month away, I decided to have another look back at John Carpenter’s horror classic, Halloween. Halloween was revolutionary for film, especially for the horror genre. Even with a smaller budget and a simple premise, they really caught lighting in a bottle with this.

Getting some of the worse elements of the movie out of the way, some of the dialogue can be really bad, especially when it comes to the teenage characters, it’s like someone is badly trying to imitate teenagers from the 70s. With that said it’s a minor issue. The film does also set all of these characters up to be one dimensional bags of blood to be stabbed by the masked killer, something that other slasher movies following it would be doing as well. Since it was the first to do it I guess I don’t have too much to complain about. A lot of the clichés and tropes that would happen would be because of this movie, for better or for worse. No, Halloween wasn’t the first slasher film to be made. It was however one of the first slasher movies to introduce the idea of a killer coming to a familiar location instead of going to a place where the killer is (like Psycho or Texas Chainsaw Massacre). Halloween is about an hour and 30 minutes long and that was the right length, it doesn’t drag and even in the scenes where nothing much is happening, Michael Myer’s presence will usually be felt during it. Halloween is quite a simple movie, with a limited amount of locations, a simple premise, a straightforward killer, yet all of it works, it’s simplicity is the key to its success. The portrayal of Michael Myers is really effective. The only bit of backstory that we get about him is from Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) who describes him as being pretty much pure evil and you completely buy it. Making it even more intimidating is how Myers seems absolutely unstoppable. He doesn’t run when chasing after people and when he kills he’s not over the top with it, he walks slow, he kills silently, the only sounds from him are his deep breaths. From what I understand the sequels and the remakes try to make an explanation for him, however while they might be able to explain why he acts how he does (which does take away from him as a character), nothing can really explain his immortality. I much prefer the pure evil explanation for him.

Donald Pleasence is fantastic as Sam Loomis, the doctor who is the only person who truly knows how dangerous Michael Myers is. True there’s not much to the character but it’s by far the best performance in this movie. Jamie Lee Curtis makes her debut acting performance here as Laurie Strode and she does pretty okay in her role, nothing great but nothing bad either. It’s worth keeping in mind that she essentially became the first “last survivor” character in a slasher film, so a lot of the tropes with that sort of characters started with her character. She’s at least better than most of the other actors. Most of the actors are pretty bad, especially the teenage characters.

John Carpenter’s direction was one of the main reasons why Halloween works so well. Halloween has a budget of about $300,000, which even then in the 70s was pretty low and yet he did so much with that budget. Sometimes you can feel some of the restraints with the regard to things like the sound design is not always the greatest but most of it is fine. Something about how small scale it feels really adds to this movie, you feel much more confined to what is going on. The cinematography is absolutely masterful, the use of wideshots was really effective, especially for building tension and suspense. Carpenter made Michael Myers a real presence throughout the movie, even when he isn’t killing anyone. In fact, him just standing somewhere in the background is really effective, way more effective than just him killing people. The kills are actually pretty tame for a slasher film but they are pretty effective. They aren’t overly bloody or gory and are usually somewhat in the shadows, fitting in with the rest of the movie and not being a typical bloodfest (which the movies would eventually become). The cinematography is only made better with the use of John Carpenter’s score, which is absolutely excellent. I don’t think Halloween would have been as iconic or effective without the score. Every time that main theme comes on, you are just wondering what’s going on, whether Michael Myers is there or what’s happening next, and only continues to build tension and really sets the mood. The design of Michael Myers is simple but effective. A William Shatner mask and a jumpsuit is all there is to his physical appearance and yet it remains one of the most iconic horror costume designs ever 40 years later. As for the scares, most of them didn’t affect me but that’s just me, I’m difficult to be scared. It does have some jump scares but all of them are effective, it’s not cheap at all and even the fake out jump scares are pretty effective.

Halloween is still a horror classic to this day and it’s easy to see why looking back at it. John Carpenter’s direction of this simple premise was really effective and led to a huge change for the horror genre (for better and for worse). It’s actually the only movie in the long series that I’ve watched but I can’t imagine any of the sequels being even close to living up to the original. The sequel coming this year will be ignoring all other sequels and it looks like it will at least somewhat close to being at the level of the original, which is saying a lot considering how great the original is. 40 years on, John Carpenter’s Halloween still remains a classic.