In growing trends of fan service, many movies tread a thin line between tack and class. On one end, there are gems like Ready Player One, which moved both pop-culture geek and the casual viewer to awe, aplomb with extensive references that were subtle enough not to shake the events of the movie. On the other, Full Metal Alchemist’s live-action remake was so chock-full of ‘iconic’ moments that what resulted was more an amateur fan film than a coherent movie.
In the genre of horror, the ice is even thinner. With the cut for good horror being made by classic film techniques and the lack of corny tropes, room for fan service is practically inexistent. But yet, that’s what David Gordon Green’s Halloween does. Completely ignoring all the other sequels, it serves as a complete and direct sequel to the John Carpenter’s first ever Halloween in 1978. It ignores nine movies in total, including Rob Zombie’s gnarly remake, which had two movies. Good freakin’ riddance.
2018’s Halloween is set forty years after the original movie, in which Michael Myers (The Shape/Nick Castle) inflicts iconic terror on Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) as she babysits. Halloween now picks up on a weathered Laurie (still Jamie Lee Curtis!) who still struggles to deal with what happened. Her house is decked out for complete warfare – room shutters, floodlights, even a shooting range.
She shares a strained relationship with her daughter (Judy Greer) who was subject to a traumatic, sheltered upbringing. Laurie is very much bound by the fear of Michael’s inevitable return, and an inane desire to have her revenge on Michael. It has lost her two marriages and her daughter, Karen.
Michael (still Nick Castle), who was held in maximum security at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, is accompanied by an obsessive Dr. Sartain as he gets transported to another location in a bus. The bus crashes, with inmates and guards sprawling around the wreck, but no Michael. And yeah, it’s Halloween.
The plot mostly keeps to the direction of the original, and slow cinematography that indulges in Myer’s slow, masked breathing is ample. The power, size and brute strength of The Shape have never been more realistically evident. The charm and mystery surrounding the character is treated like a precious commodity (rightfully so), painting twisted dynamics as very, very human. Accompanied by John Carpenter’s legendary eerie synthesizer score, the movie is playful while retaining all the elements that a good horror movie needs.
The fact that the wide-eyed Laurie Strode was 19-year-old Curtis’s first Hollywood role heavily amplifies the familiarity that one feels with the character and her family. Nobody could’ve possibly done it better. Curtis is harsh and gripping, and carrying the story through a variety of emotions fitting for today’s media climate which is ever-receptive to the issues of mental illness, family, and female empowerment.
Halloween throws a real dog bone at any Carpenter fan, seamlessly integrating iconic moments while remaining a good ol’ slasher flick. The reappearance and collaboration of classic names paired with the brilliant screenplay of Danny McBride keep this retelling fresh. Written for today’s times, the movie is a raw tale of revenge that exudes an uncomfortable commentary at the world as it is.
You’ll squeal with glee and claw at your seats not just for Myers and Curtis, but for the astounding execution of a franchise so filled with remakes that it has somewhat tired the genre. This is a strong encapsulation what victory means in this age, and my millennial ass is lovin’ it.