Before Netflix, Hulu and all the other streaming services, during the month of October I would scroll through all the cable channels to find a new horror film. The two that stood out most, and that were constantly played, were “A Nightmare On Elm Street” and “Halloween.” Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers are two of the most timeless classic horror villains, and both have had iconic original films that impacted audiences around the world and left imprints in the nightmares of both children and adults.
Another common element among these films is that they both seem to have taken on exhaustingly long quests by creating an abundance of sequels which, oftentimes, did not land as well as the original. Now another trend has risen where films premier during the Halloween season hoping to become blockbusters. While the numbers in attendance may be flattering, most fail to become cult classics. I write this critique in a tentative manner after watching the latest installment of the “Halloween” series, which, although not perfect, was undoubtedly a fun, nostalgia-filled, slasher film.
“Halloween” having yet another sequel at this point kind of just sounds like having another “Paranormal Activity.” Nevertheless, hearing that wretched opening music, combined with the word “Halloween” in dripping, bright orange letters brought out a childlike reaction that had me wanting more. The “Halloween” series built itself by delivering murder scenes fueled with cynicism and other elements that are the quintessence of horror filmmaking. On the surface, Michael Myers can be seen as the average person, a slow-paced walking man wearing a mask. But it’s these details, combined with the idea that he is basically immortal (based on the many times he’s either shot in the face or burned alive), that make Myers, or the notion of him, an uncomfortable, deep-seated fear in the hearts of many.
“Halloween” sticks to its guns and hovers through some of the original filmmaking tactics and classic murder sequences honed throughout the series. It’s the deadly nighttime appearances by Michael Myers and the lack of a purpose behind his rampant killing spree as he sticks his legendary chef’s knife through a random woman’s throat that keeps the audience jumping in their seats. What pushed horror films like “Halloween” out of the mainstream was the use of enhanced technology and horrific costume designs combined with the too many jump scares. This new “Halloween” undoubtedly shows director David Gordon Green’s appreciation for old-school cinematography and screenwriting. The fact that Green has chosen to stray from integrating more modern takes on horror into this new “Halloween” film is indeed ambitious, but it can also create quite a few setbacks.
The dialogue in some of the scenes of this movie are incredibly cringeworthy. Awkward pauses and panel switches feel somewhat outdated, which can be a result of Green’s choice to keep the film’s aesthetic much like the original’s. While watching “Halloween,” I could not help but dwell on the cliché plot holes about a lame high school dance and teenage romance, which are made out to be at the forefront of the film. This is all too common in slasher films — we get a variety of disposable characters and multiple plotlines that cut into the runtime.
One of the best parts about this rendition, if not the best, is the return of Jamie Lee Curtis and her portrayal of Laurie Strode. Oct. 26 marks the 40-year anniversary since the initial release of the original “Halloween” film, and she has not aged a bit. We are brought into Strode’s present life after being haunted by the traumatic experiences from her past with Myers, and she is rightfully transformed into a deadly assassin looking for vengeance. While it seems like her granddaughter (Andi Matichak) is supposed to be at the forefront of the film, Curtis steals the show. Her presence could have been utilized much more, considering most people who watched the film have a closer connection with Laurie Strode.
Aside from Jamie Lee Curtis, the performances in “Halloween” are not incredible, and the movie is far from being phenomenal. However, it was entertaining and fun to have the new generation understand, at least somewhat, the importance of a character such as Michael Myers during the Halloween season. “Halloween” is meant to be a simple film, with no complex plot that requires an in-depth analysis. The hardest thing to figure out, though … is Michael Myers actually dead this time?