Review: ‘Halloween,’ a trick or a treat?

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Story by Cassius Croom / Contributing Writer

“Halloween” is one of the best films I have seen this year. It’s right up there with “Black Panther” and “Mission: Impossible – Fallout.” I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. Yet, here I am trying to clear my schedule for a second viewing.

Simply titled “Halloween,” this film is a sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 classic, retconning the continuity and essentially creating a new timeline in the process. In other words, any film released between these two films didn’t happen. Taking place forty years later, “Halloween” (2018) revolves around Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). Laurie, traumatized by the events that happened forty years ago, is now stockpiling weapons and training herself, anticipating the return of Michael Myers (played by both Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney).

Jamie Lee Curtis’ performance as Laurie really stood out in this movie. This is how someone would act in their later years if they witnessed their friends butchered by a masked serial killer, let alone nearly getting killed themselves. It was interesting to see Laurie’s growth from a teenage babysitter into a paranoid, isolated gun-nut. The dynamic between Laurie and her daughter was interesting as well, since Karen resents growing up with her and being forced to train. Greer gave a great performance as a parent trying to hide her past. Matichak’s performance was decent, but it pales in comparison to Curtis or Greer. She was far from flat-out terrible, though. Her friends, on the other hand, had me dying laughing in my seat. These young actors (Virginia Gardner, Drew Sheid, Jibrail Nantambu) have a bright future ahead of them. Karen’s husband, Ray (Toby Russ), was funny as well.

The cinematography exceeded my expectations. One scene, in particular, has the camera following Michael as he breaks into someone’s house, kills them and leaves within a matter of minutes. This shows how quick and efficient he is. There are also several “blink and you’ll miss it” moments. In one scene, Michael bashes someone’s head into a table in the background, but I didn’t notice until someone told me after the fact. Speaking of which, the film seldom shows Michael killing his victims on screen; what’s usually shown is the aftermath. When he does kill someone on screen, it’s pretty brutal. The movie doesn’t have “Saw” levels of gore, but that’s to its benefit. What we conjure up in our imagination is much worse than the reality, and the camera does a good job of portraying that.

The movie recaptures that ‘70s horror vibe to near perfection, down to the opening titles, the text font, the overall vibe and the soundtrack. After the movie’s strong opening, I was grinning from ear to ear as the iconic “Halloween” theme played. Alongside that were a couple of other tunes, new and old, that caught my ear. The music really set the tone for this movie.

When it comes to negatives, I don’t have much to say. The movie does take a while for the killing to start, but that’s put off a bit for narrative purposes. Can I really fault the movie for that? Plus, if you’re expecting to really get terrified, I don’t think you’ll find that thrill here unless you’re really squeamish or really young. This movie is a love letter for fans of the “Halloween” franchise, so it’s filled with throwbacks to the other movies. Some of them are predictable, which you may or may not appreciate.

All in all, I walked out of the theater pleasantly surprised by what I saw. The cast’s performances were great, Curtis in particular, and the soundtrack is still ringing in my ears. The movie has well-placed humor that doesn’t compromise the tension, and the cinematography tells a story without words. I’d definitely recommend seeing this, especially with your significant other on the 31st.

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    Mela Nelson
    October 25, 2018

    “Halloween” is a good movie, however I would have to disagree that it is as good as “Black Panther”. The remake Of “Halloween” was genius. Unlike other sequels, it will make newcomers of the series want to go back and watch them from the beginning. Most sequels don’t live up to the hype of the original. The new “Halloween” however, can stand on its own. The story ties in the previous movies but it’s more centered on being prepared for his return.
    This movie includes PTSD of the main character, Laurie Strode, and shows how the events she went through impacted her relationship with her child. Her child goes off and becomes a psychiatrist. She wants nothing to do with her mother because she is obsessed with Michael, and the idea that he will return. In the end, they come together and kill Michael. Well, that’s what we think.
    One of the negatives that I have with the “Halloween” franchise is that he never dies. He got decapitated one movie, shot to death in another, and of course burnt to a crisp in the most recent. All of the movies are good, but how does he keep surviving?
    I personally enjoyed this movie and if they were to release another one I would watch it.