There’s something magical about sitting in a packed theatre with hundreds of die-hard fans, about to watch the movie they’ve been waiting to see for over a year. As the lights dimmed on TIFF’s Midnight Madness premiere of Halloween, the crowd held an elated tension. Would this be worth the wait?
David Gordon Green and Danny McBride’s reimagining of the classic slasher does retcon every film after the 1978 original. What this creates is a Laurie Strode who is so traumatized by the events of that Halloween night 40 years ago that it has consumed her entire life.
Along with that trauma and paranoia is the doubt she faces because of her obsession. Laurie’s family members constantly plead for her to just “get over it” and “move on” with her life. But Laurie knows that she will never be truly safe until Michael is dead.
The legendary Jamie Lee Curtis plays this trauma beautifully – and it’s delicately balanced. Her extreme preparedness can feel intensely impressive in one scene and comically nutty the next. But under it all, you can see how Laurie has been – and is still – shaken to her core by Michael Myers.
The reimagined timeline is such a perfect fit that you really don’t even miss the other films. But, rather than completely discard the whole franchise, Green and McBride show their respect with several little Easter eggs and hat-tips to the original Halloween and its other chapters.
They’re extraordinarily satisfying bits of fan service.
And speaking of extraordinarily satisfying, the film’s R-rating is used to its full advantage. Scenes of violence are viciously, deliciously gruesome, and sprinkles of comedic levity make the horror that much more effective – it’s a skilled dance of building and releasing tension.
Even after 40 years, Michael Myers is still a terrifying, brutal (and highly productive) killing machine. He has aged well.
Admittedly, because this Halloween follows more characters on separate plotlines, the rhythm of the story is a bit spread out. The first two acts have some push and pull with the pacing and tend to favor jump scares. The third act, however, is a master class in tension. You’re right there with Laurie and – as Sarah Connor-level prepared as she is – you can feel her anxious terror.
Putting the focus on three generations of Strode women is a powerful way to both demonstrate how Michael has had a lasting effect on the family and explore the challenging mother-daughter dynamic that developed as a result.
Even if Laurie was not the warm, loving mother that Karen Strode (Judy Greer, Jurassic World) so desperately wanted, Laurie put Karen’s safety above everything. Her maternal instincts told her to protect and prepare instead.
Again, the film encompasses the post-traumatic stress that would surely follow after surviving such a brutal massacre. Even though Laurie has had time to bandage the wounds of that trauma, they’ve never really healed because of her conviction that Michael will one day return.
We can see an attempt at normalcy through Laurie’s relationship with her granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak, Orange is the New Black). Laurie feels incredible guilt for how she raised her own daughter and frustration because of how her paranoia is outwardly perceived.
It’s a powerful reflection on the isolation of trauma.
Overall, when you get down to brass tacks, Halloween is a deeply satisfying return to Haddonfield. The return of John Carpenter to revitalize the iconic main theme speaks to how Green and McBride wanted to do Halloween right, and with Carpenter’s blessing (the theme will give you goosebumps, by the way).
Co-written by Danny McBride and director David Gordon Green, and produced by Jason Blum and Malek Akkad (son of Moustapha Akkad, executive producer of every other film in the Halloween franchise), Halloween was given the love and care of a team that has such respect for the original film and the horror genre as a whole.
For Halloween’s 40thanniversary, this was the best possible gift.
Halloween will hit theatres on October 19, 2018. Check out the trailer here!