Halloween (David Gordon Green, 2018) 2½ out of 4 stars.
Four decades later, and a behemoth-sized legacy to boast about for days, the methodical, masked serial killer Michael Meyers and his muse Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, return to the silver screen in 2018’s Halloween. 40 years after the string of horrific deaths that were committed on Halloween night in Haddonfield, Illinois, lone survivor Laurie has been training her mind and body for the day Michael Meyers escapes from his confines of a high-security psychiatric hospital. Laurie’s estranged daughter and granddaughter, played respectively by Judy Greer and Andi Matichak, assure her that Meyers could never escape, and they plead her to drop her paranoia and finally live a normal life. Laurie wants to reconnect and start a new life with her family, but her suspicions come to fruition, and she is forced to confront the looming shape of her past on the night of all nights: Halloween.
Director David Gordon Green never reinvents the familiar structure and story beats of the typical slasher tale. The film’s editing and the cinematography strongly resemble the subjective camera aesthetic of lesser installments of the slasher genre. In place of the original Halloween’s use of wide shots, which establish a cold and distant mood in the first act, Green and his co-writer Danny McBride give the story a great sense of humor. This choice is a clear departure from the hopeless tone of Carpenter’s original 1978 Halloween, but Green and McBride are well aware of the 40-year-old gap between the two films, and humor is the sure-fire way to make Green’s film standout.
Jamie Lee Curtis returns to the Halloween franchise and is in full form as the matriarch of the Strode family. While the characters of Green’s Halloween make the predictable dumb decisions seen in most horror films, it’s invigorating to witness a horror franchise, especially one as old as Halloween, hold up a well-prepared and intelligent female protagonist like Laurie Strode as its champion against pure evil. David Gordon Green’s Halloween might not possess the masterful restraint or instinct of the original classic, but there’s no doubt in my mind that it is a genuine love letter by equally genuine fans, in response to a film that set the bar high for films like it to reach us for the past 40 years.