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Review: Halloween (2018) (JimmyO's take)

Halloween (2018) (JimmyO's take)
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You can check out Chris Bumbray's TIFF review here.

PLOT: Forty years after evil invaded the town of Haddonfield, Michael Myers returns to his home. This time however, Laurie Strode is waiting for him and ready to fight her own personal boogeyman - and save her family along the way.

REVIEW: Forty years ago, tragedy befell the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois. Since that dark and terrifying night, the town has mostly forgotten about Michael Myers. Except for one survivor… Laurie Stode has not forgotten. In fact, she has prepared herself for his return. That is part of the basic premise behind the latest sequel to John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN. And frankly, this is the first sequel to truly capture the atmosphere of the original. While it may sound a bit too basic, the latest feature smartly examines what it would be like to survive a horrific event, and the damage it can do to loved ones in your life. This may once again be “The Night HE Came Home,” but it is done with purpose, all the while making Michael Myers scary again.

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) survived that terrible night in 1978. The Halloween night that took her closest friends. Unfortunately, it has left her paranoid and estranged from her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). Another survivor of that night is Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney, with a cameo by Nick Castle). For forty years he has not spoken a word, locked away in a mental institution. Waiting patiently, he finally finds his chance to escape when he is transferred to a high risk facility. Leaving a trail of bodies behind him, Michael makes his way back to where the nightmare began. This time however, Laurie is ready for him.

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HALLOWEEN (2018) manages something pretty spectacular when it comes to horror sequels. While it may seem at first glance like it may be nostalgia overkill, it all works. From the familiar opening title, to the story itself, it is clear that both writer and director David Gordon Green as well as his co-writer, Danny McBride, understand what made the original so undeniably compelling. Without going into too many specifics - I personally didn’t want to know much of anything going in - they approach a familiar story but with an exciting new direction. As well, the filmmakers do not just rely on the good graces of Carpenter’s classic. This is perfect companion piece, yet it still manages to build to something impressive in its own right.

Since she has played Laurie Strode in five of the eleven sequels - including the latest - Jamie Lee Curtis continues to expand on who the original victim became. However, as you are probably aware, this movie is a direct sequel to the first in every way. Today, she has become a tough, paranoid and cynical mother and grandmother, yet her obsession with “the boogeyman” caused her own family great strife. The actress brilliantly portrays a survivor who has sacrificed that girl next door, only to become a recluse hoping to one day avenge the monster that murdered her friends.  Ms. Curtis gives  a stunning performance, all the while still making us care about her and her family. As much as I appreciated her work in H20, this is the take on Laurie Strode that makes the most sense.

One of the most impressive things about John Carpenter’s Halloween is the fact that the characters are mostly all worth caring about and not simply dumb teens with a death wish. Thankfully, McBride and Green have managed to do what very few of the sequels have, give the victims and minor characters the same substance that both Carpenter and the great Debra Hill managed to do the first time around. This includes the supporting characters, Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilgner), Officer Hawkins (Will Patton) as well as a couple of investigative journalists played by Jefferson Hall and Rhian Rees. As mentioned, I’d rather not spoil just how they connect to Michael and his return trip to Haddonfield. Albeit, I did have a bit of an issue with one of their motivations for going after Michael, but it ultimately works in context to the rest of the film.

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As a fan of this series - yes, even the really bad ones - I’ve always enjoyed John Carpenter’s score. Alan Howarth’s take on the spooky synth sound worked for this viewer as well. Yet having Carpenter back, along with his son Cody Carpenter and Daniel A. Davies, only further enhances the experience. While the score here is consistent with the original film, there are a few new sounds that are especially effective. This is by far the best soundtrack to a HALLOWEEN film since the original. And yet it manages to inject more than just the familiar themes. As the bodies pile on, and the familiar notes play, what we ultimately have is an impressive and brutal sequel that will thrill audiences come October 31st.

HALLOWEEN (2018) is the best sequel in the franchise as well as a terrific film on its own. Instead of typical teen fodder, you actually care about the fate of those who come across Michael Myers. In fact, one kill is so surprising that it left me wondering how dark they would go. And yes, the deaths are gruesome without going full on gross out. Michael Myers may be older, but he certainly hasn’t slowed down. Jamie Lee Curtis is fantastic as a woman ready to destroy the evil that she faced in 1978. As well, both Greer and Matichak give us new characters to root for. This may be going in a new direction for the franchise, but I’d be thrilled to see a continuation of David Gordon Green’s take on a masked killer who personified “pure evil.” This HALLOWEEN is a treat for fans patiently waiting for Michael Myers to return.

Source: JoBlo.com

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