Having never seen any of the sequels that followed John Carpenter’s original 1978 classic, Halloween is both a blessing & a curse for me. Blessing because I don’t need to check out those existing instalments anymore since this latest entry is a direct follow-up to the first film that wipes the slate clean by effecting a retcon of all previous sequels. Curse because it still pays tribute to those discarded chapters so those references are certainly bound to go over my head. Still, sitting through those critically panned sequels would have been a hell of an ordeal so there really isn’t anything to complain.
Fresh, fun & frightening in sufficient doses, Halloween brings back many of the original’s flair and features an interesting premise that works for the most part if not all. A vicious, violent & vengeful delight that’s at its best whenever Michael Myers is on screen, the story starts on a gripping note and steadily builds towards its long-awaited finale but there are also a lot many things about it that could have been bettered. Delivering on the promise of offering an enjoyable, entertaining & mostly satisfying ride, it’s a well-crafted sequel that scores heavily on nostalgia and is solely steered by the original cast.
Set 40 years after the massacre that took place in Haddonfield, Illinois in 1978, Halloween follows Laurie Strode who, despite having narrowly escaped Michael Myers’ killing spree on Halloween night 4 decades ago, has never truly managed to recover from the horrors of that fateful event and over the years has spent all her time preparing for his potential return. Her worst nightmare comes true when the transport that was transferring Myers to another prison facility crashes in a ditch and unleashes the notorious killer out in the open, thus setting up events that eventually brings both of them face-to-face for one final confrontation.
Directed by David Gordon Green, the audience is introduced to Michael Myers within the opening segment and it’s filmed in a way that hints at a tense, uneasy mood & a sense of foreboding right then n there before being followed by a credit sequence that signify the resurrection of the infamous evil. Green takes his time to set up the plot but once Myers escapes from his captivity, the story kicks up a notch and becomes a downright thrilling affair until the end. Still, the film as a whole leaves a lot to be desired because there are several areas that were in need of improvements, especially the dialogues since a whole lot of those are terrible.
As for the characters, the returning ones haven’t lost any of their potency and still pack a strong punch & terrific screen presence but the new ones aren’t even remotely intriguing and scenes featuring them act more or less as a hindrance to the main plot. Although the writers fail to make us care about or invest in anyone other than Michael Myers & Laurie Strode, they do a neat job when it comes to handling the arcs of these two iconic figures. The story outline is compelling but the script still needed more work. After all, dialogues are awful, a couple twists are lame, and the new characters are so poorly conceived that it makes you wonder if their absence would’ve yielded a better result.
Production design team brings back the fictional town of Haddonfield to life in splendid detail, updating the surrounding with urban touches without making it seem unfamiliar. Cinematography attempts to establish an unsettling aura with clever camera placements, controlled manoeuvring & apt lighting but the atmosphere isn’t sustained. The infamous mask is treated with so much care that it actually outshines the new cast. Editing is finely carried out, unfolding the plot at a steady pace but there are also scenes in the final print that add nothing of substance to the story. However, it’s exciting to have John Carpenter back in some capacity and he delivers with an ominous synth score that’s as thrilling as it is fitting.
Coming to the performances, Halloween marks the return of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode & Nick Castle as Michael Myers. The new additions include Judy Greer as Laurie’s daughter, Andi Matichak as Laurie’s granddaughter, Will Patton as Haddonfield’s sheriff, Haluk Bilginer as Myers’ psychiatrist and both Jefferson Hall & Rhian Rees as true-crime podcasters, none of whom manage to leave a lasting impression. Both Curtis & Castle on the other hand exhibit no loss in form and chip in with badass inputs in their given roles. There is an actual sense of history & emotional weight felt when they both are within the same frame and though we find Laurie to be more prepared than ever before, Michael is on a whole different level and is absolutely cold, brutal, relentless & unforgiving here.
On an overall scale, Halloween isn’t better than John Carpenter’s influential nightmare but it serves as a worthy follow-up chapter that retains the flavours of the original and stays true to its mythology. Packed with genuine thrills, suspenseful segments & a few grisly kills, it is a welcome entry in the saga and definitely one amongst the better horror flicks of the year. Though not devoid of shortcomings, what disappoints more is the fact that most of its flaws were easily rectifiable had the writers attempted to refine & polish the script further. Nevertheless, majority of fans will come out pleased with what David Gordon Green has done here, for the film works both as a homage to the original as well as its own entity. Bolstered by Jamie Lee Curtis’ & Nick Castle’s superlative performances, Halloween is definitely worth your time & money.