Halloween (2018) Spoiler-free review

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Dubbed ‘The Night She Came Home’, David Gordon Green’s sequel/reboot of the seminal slasher flick has been pretty much sold as Jamie Lee Curtis’ movie. And judging how Halloween wraps up the story of Laurie vs Michael you can definitely see her influence heavily overshadowing the film. But does it make for a good slasher movie?

Going into Halloween I was filled with trepidation and the kind of excitement I haven’t felt for the latest in a horror franchise for a long time. All I wanted was a solid slasher sequel. Nothing more, nothing less. And I am happy to report that Halloween delivers on its promise. Running at 106 minutes, much like most of the horror fare hitting cinemas in the last five years it could do with a trim. And for my money there are a few peripheral characters too many. Not all of whom meet the sticky end you’d hope for…

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But on the whole Halloween is a fun, jump-filled creepfest. With more than one nod to the original, the movie still manages to keep its own identity. John Carpenter’s contributions to the score stand head and shoulders above the rest – one set-piece in particular where Laurie’s granddaughter Alyson (Andi Matichak) comes face-to-face with the Shape gave me chills thanks to the throwback synth that accompanied it. Set to the skittish rebeat of the iconic theme, watching Michael go crazy on his first Halloween home, stalking and slashing his way through the neighbourhood whilst the kids are outside playing trick or treat, is a spine-tingling feast for horror freaks.

During moments like these the film excels. One of the original’s greatest achievements was to capture that simple and terrifying fear that you’re not safe in your own home. The script here works it’s hardest to try and recapture that. In one scene an unsuspecting neighbour peers out into the darkness whilst telling her friend on the phone “I’d better lock the door…”, not realising The Shape is letting himself into her home right at the edge of our screens. The vulnerability of the Haddonfield residents, and indeed ourselves, couldn’t be more stark and clear.

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Another highlight is how David Gordon Green’s direction captures the physicality of Michael. Throughout the plethora of sequels The Shape became just that. A robotic man in a mask who became less scary with each passing entry. Now Michael is very much the Bogeyman, stalking with animal like intent, grunting his way through the back streets of Haddonfield and having a whale of a time slicing and dicing and posing his victims like dolls once he’s done with them. His brutality is on point – although there are some punches pulled with surprising deaths offscreen that I’m sure were intended to make us use our own twisted imaginations but instead felt a bit like a cop-out.

But if you came for grisly gore you get just enough to lap it up. If you came for a bad ass heroine protecting her loved ones like a lioness then you are in for a treat. If you came for that slow creeping chill up your spine whenever Michael’s mask is reflected in a suburban window then for the most part you’ll be pleased too.

I was impressed with the character work that’s gone into showing Laurie’s descent into the local town crank, an embarrassment to her family and now a recluse living in a self-made fortress, an obsessed alcoholic who’s life has fallen apart under the weight of the trauma she suffered 40 years ago. A surprising depth has been carved out for this iconic character and it’s much deserved. My only major gripe was despite its many strengths I just wasn’t as scared as I wanted to be… but I jumped and cowered just enough to call this the best sequel Halloween could have wished for. So don’t expect the second coming and you’ll come out smiling. A solid tribute to two horror icons – Michael and Laurie both get the follow-up they deserve. And it’s already a smash so whether we like it or not…

Roll on the sequel…

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