There is finally a “Halloween” sequel that is not just serviceable. Director David Gordon Green’s continuation of John Carpenter’s 1978 classic of the same name brings back horror icon Michael Myers in all his stalking, brooding glory. Similar to how its predecessor made the night a terrifying entity in and of itself, children will once again grow up in a world where fear of the dark, or just what’s at the bottom of a dark staircase, isn’t a baseless superstition.
On top of that, Green and co-writer Danny McBride offer a thoughtful meditation on the effects of trauma, suggesting a survivor can either be a victim to their experiences or surmount their fears and retake control of their life.
Since the events of the original “Halloween,” Laurie Strode (played once again by Jamie Lee Curtis) has lived in constant dread, in anticipation that murderer Michael Myers will return to wreak havoc and terror on the unsuspecting town of Haddonfield, Illinois. Strode’s anxiety has made her a black sheep to those around her, including her family, and it is through her eyes that we see the effects of trauma and how a person is never the same following it.
Curtis’s take on Laurie is nothing like her 70s antecedent. Whereas the Laurie of Carpenter’s film spent most of the third act running from Myers, Green’s Laurie actually runs toward the monster whenever it rears its head. It’s as if she is saying, “I may be damaged, but I’m not weak, either.” This is a refreshing interpretation of the slasher protagonist, as most are suspect to the pitfalls of questionable logic and all around poor decision-making.
Curtis’s performance is further enhanced by the supporting cast, who approach her gun-toting readiness for action with a healthy dose of skepticism and bewilderment. Had the movie been made by less capable hands, this omnipresent animosity that Laurie faces would come across as annoying and only encourage the audience to root for the characters’ ultimate demise.
Whereas the original “Halloween” helped spawn the slasher genre, this reboot of the dormant series reignites it by taking horror back to a simpler time. While there are certainly moments of profound violence and gore, Green opts to keep the violence relatively tamed by either having it occur off-screen or building tension in its place. The result is a foreboding sense of doom that is much more effective than any amount of frivolous blood and guts could achieve.
2018’s “Halloween” is definitely a product of its time. From cinematographer Michael Simmonds’s intimate voyeurism to even the most minor of characters presenting themselves as an actual human being—and not some loony projection created solely for the main antagonist to vent their primal predilections—Green incorporates just enough meta self-awareness to keep the film from being predictable and boring. In fact, it is difficult to find any faults with the film that are not just nitpicks.
For the sake of neutrality, however, an attempt will be made.
Green and McBride both hail from comedy roots, and while the film focuses almost entirely on building tension and portraying Myers as the unstoppable bogeyman, there are instances where their origins begin to show. The outcome is mostly successful—especially in regard to newcomer Jibrail Nantambu’s character Julian—but there is a moment or two where a character seems to be aware of their role as the comic relief, and they have the capacity to grind the tension to a halt.
Other than that, “Halloween” is an effective foray back to the town of Haddonfield and a welcome return for two of horror’s most iconic characters. Only time will tell if Green’s film will have the same legacy as Carpenter’s, but it is different and unique enough to stir a conversation about the evolution of horror and where it might be heading. 4.5/5