Monday, 22 October 2018

Halloween (2018) - Horror Film Review

The Halloween series is my very favourite horror franchise and so to have a new film in 2018 nine years after the last entry (Rob Zombie's Halloween II) was a very cool prospect. Aside from a few trailers I had avoided everything about this latest entry, I didn't even have an idea if it was any good or not and so I was both at once nervous and excited. This is a direct sequel to the original with this new timeline discounting Halloween II, Halloween III: Season of the Witch (that of course was unrelated to any other films in the first place), Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later, Halloween: Resurrection, and of course Zombie's reimaginings of Halloween and Halloween II. As you can tell from that list the titles are hilarious, don't worry, from here on out I will try not to write that darn word unless I have to!

So, it is 2018 and forty years since escaped psychiatric patient Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle - Halloween) went on a rampage in a bid to specifically kill Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis - Halloween, Halloween II) for reasons unknown, but was re-captured before he was able to do so. Suffering tremendously from that fateful night Laurie has dedicated her life to preparing for the day that the killer might return, at the cost of her nearly estranged family who see her excessive preparations as crazy. However while being transferred to a different facility Michael manages to escape the bus transporting him and he soon makes his way back to Haddonfield where he intends to finish what he started all those years ago. This time though Laurie is more than ready for him...

I am a huge fan boy of the series and so I realise that I may be a bit biased when it comes to writing this review. Even at its worst (H20) the films have still been decent enough and so I had faith I would enjoy this even if it was bad. I don't know why but these latest entry has been getting a lot of buzz, it was really nice to see the general populace eager to watch this. Listening to conversations people were having as they left the cinema I didn't hear a single bad word said about the movie. This is a real love letter to the franchise with Easter eggs referencing past films all over the place. It was fun spotting all these various references, especially the ones concerning Laurie.

This is set up to be very much Laurie vs. Michael and there was a feeling of Freddy vs. Jason in how these two characters are both shown doing their own thing until the inevitable battle. I have never thought much of Laurie as a character but here seeing how she has changed over the years I did like her a little bit more. With her now portrayed as Michaels opposite there are some fun role reversals with classic shots and classic moments reversed from the original films. An example being early on when Laurie is shown to be waiting outside a classroom for her grand daughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) in the exact same position that Michael was at in the very first film. From the trailers it seemed stupid that she would be the slightest match for the masked killer due to her age, however I quickly realised that Myers himself is also old himself now (just didn't occur to me!). There was effort to make these two seem like natural enemies and Laurie fills Dr. Loomis's shoes as well as she can. There are comparisons between the two even with how they live: Michael locked up against his will, while Laurie has chosen to hide herself away from the world in her fortified house. There is an interesting dynamic between the two who have spent their lives forever trapped in the shadow of that one night in 1978.

I figured this would follow the relatively blood free original with tension the main goal, but instead I was surprised to see him much more in the limelight. The body count was also much higher than I expected, easily in double figures with no end of violent deaths that include among them a head being crushed under a boot, various violent stabbings and plenty of faces being shoved into solid objects. While not as gruesome as Rob Zombie's remakes there were some very bloody moments including at one point severed fingers! There are plenty of scenes of people being murdered with some really fun moments, one section involving motion activated lights, a hammer attack that had the audience holding their collective breaths as Michael enters the room of a crying baby; all these were well paced with tension and action in equal measure at some points.

The plot while simple worked well enough with some explanations for how the killer manages to get in the right spots at the right times. It seemed pretty convenient on the authorities part to be transporting Michael right around Halloween and a few times it turned into a bit of hide and seek with multiple scenes of him hiding while people search for him. Also the stand in for Dr Loomis: Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer) hammed up his role a bit too much. Where the former saw Myers as evil incarnate Sartain is instead fascinated with him. There are also a few comedy characters that worked and didn't work. A prime example is Jibrail Mantambu who plays a young boy named Julian, he initially was really quite funny with his cheekiness, that is until the horror arrives and rather than be scared he just runs off camera still cracking jokes never to be seen again. The humour here was always funny, to be expected with Danny McBride as one of the writers though I did find at least three different sets of characters having the exact same style of off beat humorous conversations that made it very apparent their jokes had been written by the same person. Things like the injection of humour at times did reduce the horror aspect, while this is very much a horror film it was always apparent that it was just a movie due to elements like that.

As a huge fan of the series it was so cool to be able to get to watch this. Writers David Gordon Green (who also directed), McBride and Jeff Fradley are obviously fans of the series and added so many little touches that fans like myself just adored, and the iconic John Carpenter score is back in full effect. Myers here is treated with the respect he deserves and is helped by having a nice dose of serious characters to battle against. The cast was large and while there are plenty of stereotypical characters for the most part they fitted in well, while there was humour at times I do feel some of the jokes would have been better off left out as Halloween works best when it is being a straight up horror. Overall though I left the cinema very pleased with what I had seen. While it isn't the best the series has offered, and there were some plot issues overall it was still darn entertaining and well worth a watch.


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