There is a quiet moment in the original 1978 Halloween directed by John Carpenter that defined the entire slasher genre for me. It’s when Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) backs into a corner of a room, drenched in shadows. Then, Michael Myers’ masked facade slowly reveals itself from the darkness.
It’s the one image that defines the notion of the serial stalker: no matter who you are or where you go, he/it/she will be there. It is inevitability personified. Which is the very reason that this 2018 sequel, also aptly named Halloween, works.
The new Halloween picks up forty years after the incidents of the first movie and smartly ignores all the subsequent bastard offsprings of the original. We check in with Laurie Strode four decades after she survived the Michael Myers massacre, and life hasn’t been too kind to our original scream queen.
Strode has ploughed through two marriages, is estranged from her own daughter and is a grandmother to a teenager in high school. The trauma of being prey to a sadistic serial killer has pushed her into Sarah Connor realms of psychosis, where her bid to take control back from her tormentor has alienated everyone close to her.
It is a fantastic twist on the character as we see her stockpile rifles and ammunition that are fit to fight off T-800s, let alone one demented human in a William Shatner mask. And ultimately, this is a movie that is as much about Michael Myers as it is about Lauri Strode.
The events of the John Carpenter classic inexplicably bonds these two for life, with both looking forward to the demise of each other. But while we get a lot of exposition on Laurie, little is said about Myers and that is a good thing. He is a force of nature and I actually find it refreshing that the filmmakers respected that instead of giving us some half-assed backstory as to why he turned out that way.
Scriptwriters David Gordon Green and Danny McBride have punched out a very solid script that not only pays tribute to the original, but also manages to make their sequel self-containing, which is something that few sequels can do. You won’t be lost even if you have never seen a Halloween movie in your life as it wastes no time in setting up the premise and characters rather quickly.
Curtis does a terrific job as the elder Strode who has been put through the wringer and is constantly looking over her shoulder for Myers to reappear and finish the job he once started. Judy Greer plays her estranged daughter who lost her childhood to the paranoia of her mother.
There are some narrative echoes here of Jim Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day in which Sarah Connor subjects her son John to military training in preparation for a future war. And gore/torture fans will not be disappointed as the fantastical deaths that has been a staple of these slasher flicks are all intact.
“I met this six year old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes, the devil’s eyes” – Doctor Loomis
There are some serious scares too with a scene that puts the motion sensor lights to effective use, as well as vastly improved death count from the paltry five dead bodies of the 1978 outing as well. One of the weaker aspects of the film is the multitude of visual and narrative throwbacks to the original film. While one or two nods would have been sufficient, the movie has so many that it starts to be a little derivative after the second act.
There is still a lot to love about the film which definitely warrants a watch in the cinemas and is more than a few bars above some of the drivel that has plagued movie theatres of late. If this had come out twenty years ago, it would have been revolutionary.
Nevertheless, having it released in 2018 does does inject new vigour into the horror genre. Better late than never eh?
Halloween opens in Singapore on Thursday, October. Tell us what you think of the movie!