The dumpster fire that is known as the Halloween franchise is back in an attempt to extinguish this disaster that has built up for decades. Director David Gordon Green (Vice Principles and Pineapple Express) teams up to write alongside Danny McBride (Vice Principles, Pineapple Express, and This Is the End) and Jeff Fradley (Vice Principles) the definitive sequel to the classic slasher flick. That is right, no more brother and sister Laurie and Michael or whatever Season of the Witch were meant to be. Despite some bumps in the road, Green, McBride, and Fradley manage to deliver the sequel that fans deserve.
Since the horrific murders from 1978, forty years later, Michael Myers (Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney) manages an impossible escape (seriously, it does not make much sense) during a transfer to a new facility. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has never been able to get past the terrifying events. Due to her trauma, her life has gone downhill except for her preparation for this moment, to finally kill Myers. She must protect her family, who have exiled her due to her mental health, and stop the masked killer.
Seeing Curtis reprise her iconic role is a dream come true for fans, but she is not alone in great characters. While her performance is tremendous. Her portrayal of a woman forever damaged by what has happened to her and her friends is believable in every way. Allyson (Andi Matichak) is Laurie’s granddaughter, a teenager living the best she can with a wacky family that turns for the worse every year during the spooky holiday. Her father Ray (Toby Huss) is one of my personal favorites. The goofy dad who annoys his daughter, but when it comes down to it, must try to protect his family. Some of the funniest lines (yeah, there is humor in this gory movie) come from Ray, and they land every time. Her boyfriend and friends Cameron (Dylon Arnold), Dave (Miles Robbins), Oscar (Drew Scheid), and Vicky (Virginia Gardner) have fantastic chemistry that makes these high school buddies feel real. They manage to capture the goofiness of a group of friends in high school and the dumb teenage drama that can follow.
Not everyone is in a good light in the film. Karen (Judy Greer) is that naive, annoying character who drove me insane with every dumb word out of her mouth. She is the daughter of Laurie and the mother and wife of Ray and Allyson. I feel sorry for these people to have this woman in their life. The typical doctor who is obsessed with his patient Michael Myers, Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer) might be even worse, but I will let that surprise you by how annoying his story becomes. Then there are the two dumb journalists who suck at their job, Dana (Rhian Rees) and her partner Aaron (Jeffery Hall). Somehow we got another movie with bad, stupid journalists just like Eddie Brock from Venom. We don’t need this stereotype, why not make smarter characters?
Besides some likable characters, the best aspect of Halloween is the skin crawling intensity. The pacing through the film is well done, a nice jog that moves the story along. Then the brakes are pressed down to a slow drive that builds up the tension. The moments of never feeling safe when you know Myers is around, but have no idea where will make anyone full of anxiety. The Shape lurking in the background that you can spot as he walks over to his next victim is superbly done. While not a scary movie, it is nerve-racking as anything imaginable.
Since people experienced in nothing but comedy have written and directed the film, there is plenty of humor throughout the first two acts. Much of it does not take away from the intensity, surprisingly most of the humor hits the right notes and the correct time. Just wait til you see Julian (Jibrail Nantambu) then you know what I mean by excellent levity in such an anxiety-inducing movie.
While the first two acts are great, the bridge into the third act has some trouble. A dumb move by a character who shall not be named leads the audience into the final moments of the film, and it is just annoying. Why do horror movies lose their footing at some point in the plot every time? The reason, a lack of creativity in the writing process to end this story. While the overall end is pretty strong, the road to it is rough.
The film is made by not just filmmakers, but by people who are fans of the franchise and want to see Michael Myers back to his former glory. With that said, they manage to throw in many references and nods to the original. For the most part, I love this aspect. A nod and apology to longtime fans for how much the series has gone down to hell. With the original music, a similar intro as the first, and plenty of recreated scenes will put a smile on fans. However, sometimes it felt a bit overwhelming of already used ideas. Rather than an homage, we get a fan-made film that acts childish at parts instead of treating being an adult.
The soundtrack is fantastic with a mix of the classic tune and a brand new twist. The new track takes the iconic 1978 and gives it a modern twist. Giving the people who may have never seen many older horror movies a taste of what the music used to sound like while giving people something with a modernized feel.
For a slasher flick with a satisfying body count, the violence, for the most part, was lackluster. Some death scenes were brutal and made it worth the wait to see Myers slaughter his way through the town. Sadly, many of the deaths were shown off screen or given minimal brutality. The aftermath would be shown more often than the actual murder, appeasing my want for The Shape to kill his way through dozens of people, but left me wanting more in violence.
Halloween is a fun, exciting sequel that fixes the issues in the series while delivering film fans would want. It stumbles in many areas, especially with some characters and the final twenty minutes. In the end, Green directed an enjoyable horror movie that has some brilliantly creepy moments despite some failures along the way.
Image via Universal Studios