TIFF 2018 Review: Halloween
In 1978, director John Carpenter unleashed Michael Myers into Haddonfield, Illinois and Halloween night would be changed forever. Throughout the many sequels, reboots, and remakes of the franchise, Michael Myers would become known simply as “The Shape” – the very definition of the boogeyman.
Forty years later, writer Danny McBride, director David Gordon Green and Jamie Lee Curtis bring to the screen a continuation of Carpenter’s babysitter murders tale by completely dismissing all but the original film – and that’s a very good thing. Gone are the ideas that Michael was cursed by a cult or that he and Curtis’ Laurie Strode were siblings.
This new film begins with a documentary crew visiting Michael in a mental hospital with the hopes of discovering the madness that lead to the events of 40 years ago. There are, of course, no answers and this is where this version of Halloween connects directly to the original making the link between the two films relatively seamless. With all explanations gone, the audience is provided the opportunity to see Myers once again as Carpenter intended.
From that point on, the screenplay, written by both McBride and Green, creates a series of events that fans of the original film will appreciate as Michael Myers is once again unleashed into Haddonfield on Halloween night – something Laurie Strode has been preparing for all this time in an almost Sara Conner-esque militarized way.
The crux of the story of this new Halloween is the impact this preparation had on Strode – and subsequently, her daughter Karen Strode, played skillfully by Judy Greer, and her granddaughter Allyson Strode, played by Andi Matichak. The relationships are strained to the point of breaking as it’s difficult to believe in the boogeyman unless you have seen him in action.
To say anything more about the plot would ruin all of the surprises and fun – and this new Halloween is fun. Mcbride and Green’s screenplay infuses just the right number of comedic beats to allow the audience some relief as the brutality of Michael Myers is fully on display here. Green’s direction though, shows an appreciated restraint which was lacking in director Rob Zombie’s telling of this story in his two stabs at the series. The boogeyman is back, but with a purpose!
This is, in fact, the first film of the series since 1982’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch, in which John Carpenter has had any involvement at all. Along with his son, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel A. Davies, Carpenter has helped create a stunning new score for this Halloween – a score that showcases its iconography while also bringing something new to the table. Much like Green’s direction though, the score is restrained enough to know the power that silence can have on the viewer.
This new entry into the Halloween franchise provides such a visceral viewing experience that it is going to be a hit with both fans of the franchise, as well as those looking for a scare this October. Most importantly, for fans like myself who had given up on the franchise, this is a sequel that earns its name.