The original Halloween by John Carpenter was iconic, a horror masterpiece that inspired many sequels and spin-offs. The legendary horror film-maker cemented the slasher genre that probably inspired the likes of Jason Voorhees, Freddie Krueger, Ghostface and that sackcloth guy from The Strangers. Cleverly using shadows, light, sound and the power of imagination, Carpenter composed a horror that was chilling and scary without resorting to tacky gimmicks. While the original Halloween still serves as a great example of how to make an effective horror, even by today’s standards, it was time they completed the circle with a worthy sequel.
As if putting aside the franchise’s entire sequel history, the latest offering also titled Halloween, is set 40 years after the events of the first film with Jamie Lee Curtis reprising her role. Having both aged forty years, the profiles have changed but the deadly cat-and-mouse game hasn’t with Myers managing to escape confinement after a botched asylum transfer. Instead of simply being a vs. stand-off, Strode’s daughter and extended family and friends become targets as the man with the mask terrorises the neighbourhood, nursing his twisted compulsion to pursue and murder Laurie.
David Gordon Green has continually reinvented himself as a producer-director, moving from outlandish stoner comedies like Pineapple Express to poignant dramas like Stronger, now planting himself in the horror hall of fame. Halloween is a great copycat horror because it plows into Carpenter’s original, not tying up loose ends, revealing the killer’s mugshot or trying to understand his ceaseless need to slaughter people in Laurie’s sphere of life.
“Baaabbby, now that I found you… I can’t let you go.”
This uncertainty is the real scare factor at play as Myers racks up a body count more suited to the blood lust of modern audiences while updating the look-and-feel of this smart tribute. A vigourous yet scattered performance from Curtis opens the door for two generations, ushering in an equally determined Judy Greer and introducing an impressionable Andi Matichak.
Nimble, humorous, chilling and employing many of the same elements that made the original so powerful, it’s a worthy sequel and a well-balanced update. While it would have been more compelling if one were more emotionally invested in the characters, the new Halloween is quite masterful at surprising its audience, paying tribute through the reinvigorated soundtrack, some inside jokes and a replica of the opening credits, while sidestepping expectations simultaneously. Suspenseful and well-paced, there’s never a dull moment and the filmmakers have managed to do just enough to give it a refresh without losing the spirit of the 1978 original.
Green’s solid, reverent yet darkly comical treatment make this Halloween sequel a trick and a treat. There are a few moments that could have used a bit more polish – most notably some of the gruesome reveals and our connectedness with the characters, but its unpredictable nature make this a chilling, sharp, scary and fun horror that uplifts the franchise’s abysmal performance over the decades with a film that continues the horror revival in Hollywood. It’s “Carpenteresque”, possibly to a fault, but makes a promising statement for the future of the film franchise and the film title’s synonymy with the annual event.
The bottom line: Sharp