Dog’s Movie House: “Halloween” Fun, Creepy Sequel!
Howdy Folks! It’s The Kendog with a look at the latest incarnation of Michael Myers in the new movie “Halloween!”
In 1978, director John Carpenter pretty much defined the slasher movie with “Halloween” pitting a masked psychopath against a group of high schoolers in the ultimate game of survival! (Bob Clark’s “Black Christmas” was probably the first “slasher film” but Carpenter’s film really refined the concept.) Since then there have been a bevy of sequels and two reboots, each film varying in quality and in what these films added to an increasingly convoluted mythology. In this new film, writer/director David Gordon Green and frequent collaborator Danny McBride have basically wiped the slate clean, creating a direct sequel forty years in the making, and the film is all the better for it.
The story of “Halloween” picks up exactly forty years after the events of the original film. A couple of podcasters are visiting Michael Myers in the asylum before he’s transferred to a new, less forgiving facility. That visit seems to waken something in Michael and during the transfer he manages to escape. steal a car, and make his way back to Haddonfield, Illinois to continue his thirst for killing on Halloween night. The difference now is that the young girl who survived Myers assault forty years ago is now an overly-paranoid grandmother who has been training all of her adult life for just this night. Laurie Strode is now ready to bring the fight to Michael and the question of who is the bigger monster is ready to be answered.
What makes this film work so well is the combination of respect for the source material and the committed performances from all involved, especially from the wonderful Jamie Lee Curtis. Her Laurie Strode is spoiling for a fight, but the stress, trauma, and preparation has alienated her from her family, including adult daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and teenage granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). Curtis is able to project both vulnerability and toughness in a fashion that calls to mind Sigourney Weaver in “Aliens” or Linda Hamilton in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” She’s not only fighting the demon that came after her forty years ago: she’s also taking on the demons that have resided in her soul for all that time. To everyone else Michael Myers is a spook story or myth whose menace has lessened with the passing of time. Laurie is the only one who believes he’s coming back and it makes her something of a pariah in her home town as well as with her own family.
What’s surprising is that Green and McBride have never attempted a horror film before (the awful comedy “Your Highness” notwithstanding) yet they hit the beats of the horror genre as though born to it. There is some humor but it’s character-driven. This is a straight forward horror film folks and it reminds modern audiences of how terrifying Michael Myers can be. Remember, he came before Jason Vorhees and Freddy Krueger and there’s a good reason why he’s one of the most frightening villains in cinematic history. He doesn’t speak and he moves around unnoticed on the one night where everyone wears masks. There’s no method to his madness, no qualifying moment of psychological insight that can accurately explain him. He is just the boogeyman plain and simple.
The original “Halloween” featured a total of four kills. The new film ups that ante considerably. Clearly Myers hasn’t mellowed with age. Fortunately the film makers honor the original film by not wallowing in the gore. Some of the most effective kills happen offscreen, with some of the eerier moments coming with the discovery of the corpses Michael leaves in his wake. And the finale at Laurie’s booby-trapped home is one for the ages.
Along with the great Jamie Lee Curtis, “Halloween” features fine performances from Will Patton, the aforementioned Greer and Matichak, and the returning Nick Castle as the hulking Myers. In fact all of the central actors make good enough impressions with their characters that their deaths actually mean something. It adds to the creep factor considerably. All in all, “Halloween” is really the only sequel you have to see to the forty year-old classic. It’s one of the few additions worthy of the name! 4 1/2 Out Of 5 On Kendog’s Barkometer! So Sayeth The Kendog!