Annie can you hear me?
The first Halloween movie is a horror classic, in the realm of Night of Living Dead, The Shining, Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, Nightmare on Elm Street. I revisited it recently and couldn’t help again getting sucked into the suburban claustrophobia, the sense of unrest, the eerie score and the typical 70s cinema tropes, which admittedly remains my favorite decade in cinema.
The new film by David Gordon Green and Danny McBride gets to Michael straightaway. We are shown a prison not very different from the ones we see in Netflix crime shows. There is a goofy investigator/journalist/podcasting couple covering the Michael Myers story, even if it has been 40 years since he was incarcerated. The prison encounter is tastefully built with manic psychotic inmates creating an Arkham Asylum type of mood, albeit in broad daylight. Loved the retro opening credits. It sets the mood for the multiple homages and nods to follow.
He needs to die
There is a clinical/scientific angle to the film, much like the original. Dr. Sartain(Haluk Bilginer) is the new Loomis. And he quite matches the same manic obsessive delivery. He asserts that Michael is pure evil and he needs to die. He also is obsessed about getting inside his head(what else could you do!) and wants to see Michael utter one word.
A delightful blood and gore fest
The films is a fitting return to Haddonfield’s suburbia on a fated night. Laurie Strode(Jamie Lee Curtis) has been waiting for him, and he her. All others are just pawns.
David Gordon Green and Danny McBride take a known monster and color it in darker shades of evil. Beneath the cover of awkward family dinners, Halloween dance nights and journalistic investigation shtick it is all about Laurie. Anyone who has enjoyed the original knows the reason it stays a classic is how the dichotomy is established. Michael Myers is what the town deserves. He is pulled out of relative obscurity and placed on a pedestal. He lives the part and then some. That Laurie is now a pale reminder of the creepy stalker image Michael created is settled quite early. To what extent has she embodied the mind and spirit of Michael remains to be seen, and forms majority of the film. And that is quite an interesting direction to take, in terms of the writing.
Jamie Lee Curtis has earned this cathartic finale. Her performance akin to Hereditary’s Tony Collette in the manic control/insecurity/paranoia over her family, in all its broken affairs, she makes each bullet count. The chases, the kills are on the point and delicious yes, but what is also remarkable is the quandary, the upped tension, the overlapping moralities and the pointlessness of it all. Fans of Dr Loomis will jump out of their creepy poker faced fantasies. Fans of the original will drop from their indifferent closets like limp dead objects.
I loved the final sequences as any other horror fan but I also loved the classic Carpenter elements. The organ build up the goofiness the inherent humor of someone being killed. The sheer beauty of the process, the orchestrated play of looking within the dark for something sinister.
Halloween is rebooted quite successfully(much like Blade Runner 2048). It is a fan letter, a re-imagining, a reverential attempt at reigniting the dread of Michael, the joy of dressing up on a Halloween night and making the awkward and creepy normal. In one of the many kills, Michael gets hold of a workshop hammer and proceeds to the kill a lady cooking a Halloween dinner off camera. We only hear the screams, and can safely assume the dinner didn’t make it to the dinner table. He then gets hold of his weapon of choice, a butcher’s knife and gives us a joyous kill, in the vein of Carpenter(what Ebert calls as Foreground establishment).
As a slasher film, it is a joy to the senses. But as a horror film(which is being redefined like no other genre off late), it does give in to some deviations, few dialog appear laughably B-grade(It’s not a cage, it’s a trap! Judy Greer has begun to get on my nerves with one too many similar roles), the writing makes one attempt too many to make the women visibly powerful and literally wielding the weapon that could remove the threat of Michael, the teenager emo track plays a tad too long, and the finale does feel a bit rushed, but Halloween 2018 makes movie watching in theaters fun, for the things it attempts, the stronghold on the cabin fever mood, the fall night neighborhood lights, the celebration of evil, and the notes of brilliance it strikes albeit in places.