Monday, October 11, 2021

31 Days of Scary Movies: "Halloween" (2018)

John Carpenter’s 1978 film “Halloween” stands large over most other horror films in my opinion. It is, far and away, my favorite slasher film, and one of my most loved scary movies. The atmosphere, the anxiety, the fear—it is all as Halloween night should be. Last night I watched not that film, but it’s 2018 sequel; the sequel which disregarded all the sequels that came before it, choosing only the original 1978 film as its jumping off point. While I love the original, and enjoy the sequels—most notably the 1998 “Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later”—I was game for a sequel that started fresh. I loved 2018’s “Halloween,” and revisited it last night.

 David Gordon Green’s “Halloween” is, as the tried saying goes, a love letter to the Halloween series. Callbacks and references abound, and, in all the best ways, this film is a reworking of the original. The attention to detail put in each frame shows, as the film pays tribute even to the sequels its timeline ignores; Halloween masks from “Halloween 3: Season of the Witch,” a sequence in a gas station restroom that calls to mind “H20.” The film is not perfect, but what it gets right it gets right and its such a treat that it exists.

 Among its best assets is, unquestionably, Jamie Lee Curtis returning as the heart of the series Laurie Strode. So much of the original’s success is due to Curtis’ appeal and performance, and while “H20” gave us a Curtis who was dealing with the trauma of the events of 1978, this film delves even further into a trauma survivor’s psyche, exploring the life and nuances of someone who narrowly escaped being murdered by a psychopath along with all her friends in high school. While “H20’s” Laurie showed us a woman who has her life together and was suppressing trauma, 2018 shows us a Laurie who’s life has been devastated by what she lost as a teenager. She still wears her hair the same, has the things from her high school bedroom on the walls of her bedroom all these years later, and has spent her life in a survival mode that led to her losing her daughter to the foster care system. While Laurie is devastated, she is not broken, spending her days training—with target practice and home security systems—for the day that is inevitable: when Michael Meyers breaks free and comes after her and those she loves again. Curtis excels here, and gives an amazing performance, which carries the film and delivers huge payoffs the likes of which many thought would never again come from the series. As her daughter, Judy Greer is excellent, providing one of the best lines and moments of the film.

I don’t think I watched this last year; it absolutely will feature on the rotation of years to come. 

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