‘Halloween’ scares old and new fans

Cameron Coyle

“Halloween” offers a fresh take on the franchise by delivering a sequel which also serves as a semi-remake, allowing both new and old fans alike to enjoy the latest installment of the Michael Myers saga.

The film is a direct sequel from the original in 1978, rendering everything from “Halloween II” to the Rob Zombie remakes irrelevant.

Instead, the movie focuses on Michael Myers’ escape from a mental institution on the 40-year anniversary of his babysitter murders. He wanders Haddonfield, Illinois, aimlessly killing as he makes his way toward Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), the lone babysitter to escape him the night of his initial killings.

Advertisement

The long-lasting repercussions of what Michael Myers did in the original “Halloween” are prevalent throughout the entire movie, which helps establish a new lore in place of the erased canon.

Laurie wears her trauma on both of her sleeves, as she’s transformed her isolated house into a fortress with a firing range, boobytraps and a doomsday shelter. Her daughter, Karen (Judy Greer), was taken from Laurie by social services, and she suffered her own scars by living her childhood in an atmosphere of intense paranoia. In addition, Laurie’s granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak), has an incurable curiosity about the worst night of her grandmother’s life, as her mother has sheltered her from it and it’s an urban legend to her peers.

These circumstances prevent “Halloween” from becoming another silly horror movie, since it touches on deep-rooted trauma and shows three generations of women handling their adversity in radically different ways.

However, the only emotion evoked when Michael Myers is on screen is pure dread. Director David Gordon Green frequently uses steady tracking shots that follow behind the masked killer’s patient stride, letting the anticipation of his brutality build as he lumbers toward his next helpless victim.

Shots like this help the film strike a balance in its horror between the ruthless slasher violence and jump scares. The gore is disturbing but not overly gratuitous, while the jump scares are usually done in a creative manner, like when Myers stealthily moves and appears as motion-detector lights switch on and off in household’s backyard.

Green and Danny McBride, a co-writer and producer of the film, both have backgrounds in comedy too (“Pineapple Express” and “Eastbound and Down”), so the comedic relief comes naturally and is generally funny. Allyson’s father is self-aware about being out of touch, high school characters are usually believably foolish, and Jibrail Nantambu, who plays a kid being babysat on Halloween night by one of Allyson’s friends, steals his lone scene as a foul-mouthed child.

John Carpenter, a Bowling Green native and mastermind behind the original “Halloween,” returns to this film as a producer and lead composer for the film’s score. Haddonfield still clearly resembles the suburban and woodland parts of Bowling Green, and the police cars even read “Warren County” on the doors. Carpenter’s new score is also a revitalized version of the first, which still stays faithful to the heavy use of piano keys, strings and synths.

“Halloween” nonetheless still falls victim to a few horror clichés that have plagued slasher films since the beginning of the genre, such as nonsensical character decisions being made just to further the plot.

The film also creates an extremely hateable character in Cameron, Allyson’s boyfriend, and then allows him to vanish early in the movie with no conclusion, missing out on an opportunity for Michael to dispose of an expendable character the audience loathes.

“Halloween” pays homage to its 1978 counterpart without ever becoming a copycat film. Fans of the original or fans of horror in general should see the film while it’s in theaters.

Grade: “B+”