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'Halloween' (2018) Film Review

Kyle Atwood is a published horror author who plays too many video games and watches too many horror movies to be of sound mind.

halloween-2018-film-review

Plot

40 Years after the killing spree carried out by the infamous masked killer Michael Myers, we see The Shape returning to Haddonfield to finish what he started.

Michael has spent years in captivity just waiting for the perfect moment and he gains that moment when a prison transport bus crashes on the side of the road. We see a father and his young son pull up to the wreckage to investigate and assist, only to have their necks snapped by the bogeyman himself. Michael steals their vehicle and returns to Haddonfield to seek out Laurie Strode. Upon his failure to find her, he goes on a wild goose chase killing a little over a dozen people in his frustration. From Laurie's perspective, we see that she has become a recluse of her own, afraid of the world and the evil it holds. She's tried to train her daughter to be as reclusive as her but only succeeds in making her a paranoid wreck. Laurie is a mess, physically and psychologically and further ruins herself preparing for the day that Michael would escape. When the two finally meet, we see forty years worth of anticipation and a manic desire, in both Michael and Laurie, to finally see the other dead.

The story is brutal and filled with climactic moments and fantastic suspense building. A gripe I have is how lazy the explanation of catching Michael was, following the first film but it manages to fill in a few holes that viewers might find. I also didn't care much for a lot of the characters the movie tried to have us sympathize with, yet I was satisfied when they were finally killed off. All I cared about was Laurie and Michael finally having their epic showdown and yes, I appreciate how they included her daughter and granddaughter in the mix. They wound up being Laurie's final push to effectively destroy the bogeyman.

The other complaint I have is the number of pointless, poorly timed comedy moments we see put throughout the film to lighten the mood a bit. It's just not something I enjoy in a Halloween movie and took a bit away from the tension of the film. Had they would have done away with this, Halloween (2018) would have been the year's most terrifying movie. On one hand, however, the comedy did draw in a lot of newcomers to the series. For instance, my wife absolutely hates the Halloween movies. Not this one though. She liked how fast-paced it was, how realistic Laurie was, compared to the first film, and yes, the few comedy moments that I even found myself laughing at.

I also really enjoyed the number of victims The Shape racked up. Each time he was on screen, at least two people died and, off the top of my head, this movie had the most kills in the series. Just a fairly important factor for a slasher movie I thought I'd point out.

The plot is one of the most amazing stories in the entire franchise and I am immensely happy with this movie becoming the new, canon sequel. We see elements of psychological horror flawlessly blended with the classic slasher film formula to make a truly exciting, terrifying experience.

A small thing I'd like to give some praise to is the number of references sprinkled throughout the film. For example, there is one part that involves the shot of a set of trick-or-treaters wearing masks from the Silver Shamrock company, an organization responsible for creating supernatural masks in Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

All in all, this new and updated version has become one of my favorites in the series, rivaled only by the original second movie. It's brutal and it doesn't let up. While the start was fairly slow, it quickly redeemed itself with some of the best slasher storytelling in decades.

halloween-2018-film-review

Pushing Boundaries

Something I noticed with this film is the number of boundaries it broke. Normally, I would try to exclude this from my reviews but considering Halloween (2018) did it so well, I just have to talk about it.

With that being said, suspense just doesn't scare people the way it once did. As a result, director David Gordon Green had to resort to brutality and shock to really drive home the evil of Michael Myers and did so quite well without losing the trademark Michael style. We see The Shape killing children and brutalizing others instead of just a few stabs. Yes, most of the kills did appear off-screen but the aftermath certainly left our imaginations with plenty to work with.

Because of Green's attention to gritty detail, it has filled the franchise with a new feeling of terror that a movie like The Strangers has only been able to do until now.

halloween-2018-film-review

Acting

With a number of veteran actors and strong supporting characters, the film has an undeniably, and uncomfortably, realistic tone about it.

I really want to focus on Jamie Lee Curtis and the two actors that played Michael: James Jude Courtney and the original Nick Castle.

Jamie plays the perfect, strong survivor in desperation. She really sells the role of Laurie Strode on the brink of her sanity, tormented by her paranoia and trauma. I would expect nothing less from her as she is one of the most talented actors of our time.

James Jude Courtney seemed to have studied The Shape inside and out to create the closest rendition of Michael in the conflict scenes since the original two films. Nick Castle reprises his role as the most dominating presence in recent memory and acts as though he stepped right off of the set of the first film and directly into the set of this one. Castle's style hasn't aged a bit, despite the forty years since Michael stalked the streets of Haddonfield.

halloween-2018-film-review

Cinematography

The cinematography is great.

One scene in particular really snatched my attention and that is when Michael Myers begins his murder spree in Haddonfield. He starts with one house containing a mother and her young son. He sneaks inside after grabbing a hammer from her garage and proceeds to catch the mother off guard, beating her to death. Michael then picks up a knife from the kitchen and moves onto the rest of the neighborhood, floating between house after house killing victim after victim. Now, this really sticks out to me because its all taken in one shot, further pushing the sense of realism this movie really excels in.

Halloween (2018) holds the prize for the year's best horror camera work in my book.

The Verdict

I'll admit, I went into this movie a little bias. Halloween is my favorite slasher series of all time. I love each of its feats and its flaws. With that being said, I also went into this movie as critically as I could, preparing for this reboot disappoint me.

If you would have asked me a week before Halloween (2018) released, Halloween II would have been my personal, canonical ending and now I fully accept this new release as the intended movie. Would I say this is my favorite of every other movie? No. That title would still belong to Halloween II, mainly due to nostalgia and just the overall aesthetic of it. However, Halloween (2018) is probably my second, surpassing the first film ever so slightly and falling just barely below the second movie.

This film meshes well in today's horror society and it is my hope that it has saved the slasher genre from extinction and has rocketed the genre ahead of the overwhelming, supernatural, jump-scare oriented films like The Conjuring.

Halloween shall continue to live on, for years to come. This film is a must see and is an instant classic worthy of your time and, most importantly, fear.

Amazing

halloween-2018-film-review