Halloween sequel captures spirit of original

Michael Gennaro

North Bureau Chief

 

When Universal announced they were making a direct sequel to the 1978 slasher classic “Halloween,” fans of the original had legitimate reasons to be skeptical. After all, this was a movie franchise that seemed like it had an infinite number of half-hearted sequels and spinoffs ever since the original movie thrilled viewers 40 years ago.

Even though the “Halloween” franchise now consists of 11 movies, 2018’s “Halloween” is a direct sequel to the 1978 original, set in the same sleepy town of Haddonfield, Ill., on Halloween night. “Halloween” retcons the other 10 entries in the franchise and serves as a “true” sequel to the original film.

The plot is fairly standard horror movie stuff, with Michael Myers (Nick Castle, James Jude Courtney) breaking out of an asylum on the 40th anniversary of his original rampage through Haddonfield. His target is Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), the lone survivor of his killing spree 40 years earlier. Anyone that gets in Myers’ way is just collateral damage.

Where “Halloween” is so effective is in its simplicity. “Halloween” doesn’t attempt to be anything it isn’t. The movie starts fast, and the tension is palpable throughout as Myers stalks his victims. Viewers came to this film to be scared, not to watch expository dialogue, after all.

Although the film is bloody, it stays away from gratuitous gore and close-up shots of the violence. Clever camera work and the masterful soundtrack of John Carpenter–returning to score the film 40 years after he directed the original—help set the mood for the scares. “Halloween” is a callback to the origins of the genre, where a film didn’t need comical scenes of violence to be effective at building tension. The set design and camera work do an excellent job of making the viewer paranoid. Every cracked closet door or darkened hallway could be Myers’ next hiding spot.

Jamie Lee Curtis returns triumphantly to play Laurie Strode, the sole survivor of Myers’ mayhem 40 years ago. She is broken by what she experienced on that Halloween night, but also uniquely prepared for the return of Myers. She is not a helpless female victim, but a woman with incredible strength determined to put an end to the evil she experienced 40 years ago.

Indeed, some of the best highlights of “Halloween” are the scenes where Strode puts her plan to eliminate Myers into action. She has practiced for this day for 40 years, and she flips the script on Myers towards the end of the film. The prey becomes the hunter, and there are thrilling scenes of cat-and-mouse towards the climax of the film.

Curtis’ return to the franchise isn’t the only bit of nostalgia for long-time fans, however. Nick Castle, who played Myers in the original film, returns to portray Myers in tandem with James Jude Courtney. Even though Myers doesn’t utter a single word in the entirety of the film, the actors under the mask do an exemplary job of making Myers feel like more than a generic horror villain. The unsettling way Myers moves as he stalks his victims gives him an undeniable presence of evil.

“Halloween” succeeds because it delicately balances the line between nostalgia and originality. By retconning the other films in the franchise, “Halloween” is able to tell a more cohesive tale of who Myers is and why he is compelled to come after Strode again and again. Without giving anything away, the film’s climax is an undeniable strong suit of the film.

Horror fans or fans of the original film will love 2018’s “Halloween.” Unlike the other horror films released this fall season, “Halloween” manages to build tension and scare without being derivative or schlocky. It’s a great popcorn movie that captures the spirt of the original while hitting all the marks that make a modern horror film good.

gennm2@mail.broward.edu

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