Review: Halloween (TIFF 2018)

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

PLOT: After forty years, Michael Myers finally escapes custody and goes on the hunt for his old nemesis, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), but after decades of waiting, she’s ready for him…or is she?

REVIEW: It was quite a thrill being in the audience at TIFF this evening for one of the biggest events in Midnight Madness history — the world premiere of David Gordon Green’s HALLOWEEN. An affectionate, direct sequel to the John Carpenter original which completely disregards any of the follow-ups (they could have called it HALLOWEEN 2 were it not for the confusion it would cause), this update finds the franchise in fine form.


It helps that one can never really get tired of the standard old boogeyman formula, as the idea of an unstoppable murderer stalking your every move is as terrifying now as it was then. The timelessness is paid tribute to in a knowing gag where a smart-ass complains that Michael Myers isn’t that big a deal, as if he’s a surrogate for more cynical, new wave horror fans. Indeed, the movie goes to great lengths to prove that Myers is in fact still a big deal and as scary a horror villain as ever thanks to his unsettling blankness.

Green, along with co-writers Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley have crafted a worthy, faithful follow-up very much in the mold of Carpenter’s original, even recruiting the great man himself (and his son Cody, plus co-composer Daniel Davies) to contribute an unmistakably Carpenter score.

It helps that Jamie Lee Curtis is back as Laurie Strode, who’s turned into a survivalist in the Sarah Connor mode, convinced that Myers is gonna come back and finish her off. Curtis has a ball and plays the part to the hilt, with the rapt audience cheering anytime she did something cool (which is a lot) and it pays worthy tribute to her iconic status as the original final girl.

Given Green’s pedigree, the supporting cast is excellent, with Judy Greer as Strode’s resentful daughter, and Andi Matichak as her grand daughter, who finds herself prey as the film goes on. Will Patton also has a good role as the town sheriff with ties to the original, while Toby Huss makes a lot of a small part as Laurie’s son-in-law. In fact, everyone is quite likeable, making it all the more powerful when Myers starts knocking them off.

While gory, Green’s film is more like Carpenter’s original than the slasher clones that followed it, opting for a classier approach. There’s no shortage of violence, but it’s not gratuitous. Still, it gets very dark indeed, with seemingly no one on the safe list when Myers starts doing his thing.

My only problem with HALLOWEEN is a subplot involving Michael’s doctor, who Curtis calls “the new Loomis,” played by Haluk Bilginer. The cartoonish approach to his character is out of pace with the rest of the relatively grounded film, and the payoff involving him makes very little sense. He could have been excised from the script and the movie would have been better for it. Its camp where none is needed.

That aside, this is a lean, mean, old-school slasher that will delight longtime fans and win new ones once it hits theatres in October. It’s a crowd-pleaser, and a beautifully made homage/follow-up to a movie that still holds up well.






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About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.