David Gordon Green’s ‘Halloween’ is a Thrilling, Satisfying, and Brilliant Sequel to a Horror Classic

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Michael Myers is a killing machine that just won’t die. Since the horror icon’s 1978 debut in John Carpenter’s horror classic Halloween, Michael Myers has been a fixture in cinemas with sequels and remakes always reviving the masked madman. Subpar sequels couldn’t stop him nor could the divisive remake and its dreadful sequel. Once again, Michael Myers returns to the big screen in David Gordon Green’s new Halloween, a sequel to the 1978 original that ignores all the other entries in the franchise to occur over the past 40 years. Halloween is one hell of a movie, a fascinating take on the enduring effects of trauma that also delivers intense suspense, brutal killings, and plenty of humor. While the numerous Halloween sequels have their devotees, this particular sequel is expertly crafted and honors the legacy of the horrific creation of John Carpenter and Debrah Hill.

The film starts in a mental institution where Michael Myers (Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney) has been incarcerated since murdering five people on Halloween night in Haddonfield, Illinois. Since the passing of Dr. Loomis, Myers has been in the care of the psychologist Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer). The doctor has allowed Dana Haines (Rhian Rees) and Aaron Korey (Jefferson Hall), two true crime podcasters from England, to attempt to interview the infamous killer. Hard as they try to get the killer to react, he remains silent as he has for the past 40 years even when presented with the iconic mask that he wore when slaying horny teenagers.

Undeterred, Dana and Aaron travel to the secluded compound that has been the home of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), who has spent the past 40 years preparing for the possibility that Michael Myers may break free from his chains and begin to kill again. The podcasters pay Laurie $3,000 for an interview that turns contentious and runs short when they bring up how her obsessive preparation has led to two divorces and a fractured relationship with her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), who was taken from her mother by social workers at the age of 12. That lingering trauma between mother and daughter leaves Laurie Strode an outcast in her family, with Karen and her husband Ray (Toby Huss) trying to keep their teenage daughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) from her grandmother.

Of course, Michael Myers is being transferred to a new facility but there wouldn’t be a movie if he was part of a smooth prison transfer. The bus carrying Myers crashes and the infamous killer escapes in the shadows of the night. As the bodies begin to pile up, Officer Hawkins (Will Patton) realizes that the killing machine he encountered 40 years prior as a young officer is on the streets. Laurie tries to rally her family to her fortified home. However, Allyson is at a Halloween dance and her phone is busted. It’s Halloween night in Haddonfield and Michael Myers is loose on the streets. The only thing that can possibly stop him is three generations of Strode women.

Director David Gordon Green has had one of the most unusual filmmaking careers of recent memory. He’s gone from indie darling to the director of stoner comedies and now he can add horror to his odd roster of films. With Halloween, David Gordon Green confirms that he’s an immensely talented filmmaker that is unbound by genre. The film masterfully crafts tension as it toys with the audience and their expectations from the slasher type of horror film, employing ample misdirection to keep you on the edge of your seat. Halloween is incredibly violent yet there’s also plenty of restraint shown by its director, sometimes only needing to show the aftermath of Michael Myers’ brutality instead of reveling in the graphic gore of every murder.

The screenplay for Halloween by David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, and Jeff Fradley feature a number of little nods to the original film, as well as some of its sequels. But never do these playful references distract from the story at hand. This movie isn’t a nostalgia trip. David Gordon Green’s deft direction makes some of these moments into rousing crowd-pleasing moments. One such moment, which won’t be revealed in detail because of spoilers, got a massive round of applause from the audience at my screening, and it was so perfectly executed that I couldn’t help but join in the masses applauding. The script for the film is also really funny, sometimes in rather unexpected ways. My only gripe with the script and the film in general is a rather late twist that falls flat. It’s a reveal that could have derailed the final act of the film had it not just been mercifully dropped.

Beyond the ability of Halloween to provide the gut-wrenching suspense and brutal murders to satisfy the audience’s bloodlust, it’s thematically one of the most interesting slasher films to ever grace the screen. It’s a film about trauma, how it lingers and how easily it can be passed down through generations. Jamie Lee Curtis gives a hell of a performance as a Laurie Strode that presents a tough exterior but is still struggling with the lasting pain within from that horrific night 40 years prior. Laurie’s emotional suffering is passed on to her daughter Karen, who must then attempt to shield her daughter from that inherited pain. It provides Halloween with an emotional and intellectual core that hasn’t really be present in the series aside from Carpenter’s original, which is the reason it’s such an engaging and satisfying sequel.

Bringing back the iconic heroine of Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode, the original Michael Myers (or The Shape) in Nick Castle, and having an original score by John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel A. Davies, there were sky high expectations for this new sequel to Halloween. David Gordon Green and company didn’t just meet the expectations, the exceeded them immensely. This brand new Halloween is an instant modern horror classic, one that delivers what fans want to see while providing a number of unexpected moments of unsettling terror. It’s a movie that truly earns its place as the rightful successor to Halloween. Now we’re just left to wonder if we’ll see the Boogeyman one more time. This seems like a perfect place to end…but it could just be a new beginning. That’s the tricky part of when trauma is passed on through the generations.

Halloween
  • Overall Score
4.5

Summary

A thrilling, satisfying sequel to John Carpenter’s classic original, David Gordon Green’s Halloween provides plenty of what fans want from a Halloween movie but also takes the series in a bold new direction as it examines the lingering effects of trauma on Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode after the events of the original film.

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