Review / Halloween ★★★☆☆

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It’s not been the smoothest of rides for the Halloween franchise, the 1978 classic is still one of the greatest slasher films, and was the foundation of several other movie universes such as Friday the 13th. Since then, the film has spawned over 10 different sequels, the majority of which have been critically panned.  Halloween (2018) attempts to retcon all the complications from prior films, and plans to deliver a far cleaner, direct sequel to the original. Can it be 11th time lucky?

The story picks up 40 years on from the horrific murders committed by the psychotic Michael Meyers (Nick Castle) , Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), a survivor from his original massacre, still awaits the day she can take her revenge on the monster. It seems she may get her chance sooner rather than later.

This time around, it’s not just herself who is dragged into another night of terror, as her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), along with her family, also end up with targets on their backs. After 4 decades of fear, anger and mourning, can Laurie finally put her tribulations to rest?

Compared to the various underwhelming films that were pretty much a cheap cash grab, Halloween, is very much a return to form. Bringing back a much needed freshness to a series that had long become stale. The ongoing duel between our two leads is what really makes the film tick. The dynamic between out two characters is clear to see, and the fact both roles are taken up by the original cast members from 40 years ago helps a lot.  Laurie is seen as the only one who understands and can confront Meyers, and though her behavior may have created a distance between herself and her family,  she is absolutely assured she is doing the right thing. Without Laurie, the film would have definitely struggled to be anything noteworthy with the new cast.

The iconic Haloween theme is back, and brings back the chilling undertones which a threat like Meyers brings. Obviously the main reason people will flock to this film is for the slasher violence, and Halloween delivers in that regard. Some of the deaths are rather shocking. While others are pretty graphic, as you would expect when the weapon of choice is primarily a kitchen knife! But the kills are also rather inconsistent, moments  such as the scene in a local fuel station toilet is very intense, bloody, and wonderfully shot. While other scenes mostly take place off screen/implied. A strange decision considering it’s an 18 rated movie, and the fluctuating violence does not give the film a consistent feel. Some scenes are very well executed, Meyers silent, casually butchering, while people innocently go out for Halloween on the streets is excellent, and his stalking scenes come off great, especially when motion detection lights are involved (as illogical as that scene)!

While the violence and horror is what keeps this movie above water, the characters and plot do manage to drag it back under. The core characters, Laurie, Meyers, Allyson work fine. While others are simply there to be killed off. But then there are characters that really get screen time for no reason.  Allyson’s boyfriend gets a lot of attention at the start, and is built up pretty well as someone you would enjoy seeing meeting his demise, but he randomly disappears and is never seen again! The whole Doctor sub-plot in the movie felt very unnecessary, and could have been removed entirely. There is also a random sassy kid, who delivers, what are wonderfully delivered one liners, felt utterly out of place. So what is supposed to be a horrific moment, becomes a joke, as the audience are laughing. Would a young kid who is literally facing death banter with people? It was a problem The Nun also had, forcing humour for no real reason.

The plot, which is rather simple, still has various flaws that will bug most, resorting to generic cliches. People slipping when they running then can’t get up. Leaving a serial killer who is being transferred, totally unprotected with no police escort whatsoever. The reason why Allyson ends up losing her phone during the film is so ludicrous and lazily written.  The ‘‘What can we do, cancel Halloween?’’ line is total cheese. Yes, cancel it, you’re the police chief, people will die! It simply sounded like a sound bite they wanted to use for promo material, and not something a law enforcement would do! After 40 years of prepping, Laurie’s plan is rather, archaic, with so much modern tech around, her plan could have been far more sophisticated, and simpler to execute.

That said, Halloween is still a great reboot to a stagnant franchise, but the film brings nothing new to the table. The plot and characters aren’t the best, but let’s be honest, you’ll be watching for the scares and kills, and on that side, it delivers a home run.  Halloween has its flaws, but Meyers does enough to make this film worthwhile, a perfectly decent night out!

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