Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Michael Myers returns to Haddonfield in this serviceable, unsatisfying “Halloween”

Director David Gordon Green and writer Danny McBride have an interesting take on the “Halloween” franchise. 40 years after the original, Michael has been locked up in an institution this whole time, while Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) lives as a recluse, alienated by her family for her paranoia. The sequels following the original are retconned, and all that’s left is the memory of that fateful night 40 years ago, when the senseless, grizzly murders occured.

It’s fascinating to see such an evolution of Strode’s character. Her first encounter with Myers was when she was a teenager, and she spent the rest of her life familiarizing herself with survival tactics and weapons for if he ever comes back again. Jamie Lee Curtis gives a predictably great performance as a person who had to sacrifice her relationship with her daughter (played by Judy Greer), who routinely trained her in self-defense and shooting at a very young age. Her daughter resents her for this, and now that she’s grown up, blames her for the anxiety induced in her childhood.

Unfortunately this major emotional beat in the film isn’t as fleshed out and explored as it should have been. Instead, the film follows other characters who aren’t particularly interesting, as a way to show Michael Myers in action instead. That’s not necessarily a negative element, but the trope of these secondary characters often making stupid decisions could rival that of any B-list horror film, and these characters rarely have anything to say or add.

It’s clear the filmmakers involved care deeply about the original, and recognize what makes it scary. Camera movements are deliberate, and Green isn’t afraid to wait on the action. Cinematographer Michael Simmonds shoots the nighttime as a precarious, dangerous arena, and character shots are framed more closely to exude tension. The music by John and Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies is also great and blends the classic elements of the original theme with newer, more modern sounds. There is also a surprising amount of humor in the film that doesn’t distract or take anything away from the film.

With that being said, the film somehow still doesn’t manage to stand on its own two feet. Some beats from the original, acting as callbacks, are repeated in this film. It makes some of the confrontations between Laurie and Michael seem predictable. Michael Myers himself also seems smaller, less powerful and menacing in this film. One of the reasons Michael Myers was so effective in the original was the absence of safety. He was targeting teenagers who were unprepared to fight pure evil. In this film, there’s more arsenal on the defensive side, and it makes it more interesting to see, but that comes at the expense of Michael’s effectiveness as a terrifying force.

Still, however, Halloween remains an entertaining film that is sure to satisfy fans who want to see the franchise go back to basics. The film has some great scenes of Michael Myers in action, and the evolution of Laurie Strode’s character is fascinating, but the film needs to separate itself more from the original, and flesh out some of the new ideas for the franchise.

Grade: C+

“Halloween” will be released Friday, October 19

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