The fact that this film should have been called H40 aside, David Gordon Green‘s Halloween is a revelation. 40 years and 10 sequels later, this movie has no right to be as good at it is. Green, along with co-writers Danny McBride and Jeff Radley, has honed in on what made John Carpenter‘s original classic tick. With the proper mixture of tension, fear, and even dashes of humor, Halloween is easily the best sequel to the 1978 original and an outstanding horror film in its own right.
Maybe its success is due to bringing back many elements of the original. Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode? Check. John Carpenter producing and composing the score? Check. Nick Castle as Michael Myers? Check. For certain, all of these elements are welcome additions and add to the prestige of the picture.
But Halloween does more than please long-time fans of the franchise. Crucially, David Gordon Green can DIRECT. The example of Jordan Peele notwithstanding, one wouldn’t necessarily assume that a director known mostly for his comedies could make the jump to horror. Yet Green commands all of the tricks of the trade to deliver powerful tension and scares, from long one-shot takes to using sound design to emphasize Myers’ brutality. His eye for visuals is displayed throughout. A wide expansive shot of an asylum rec area, done in a checkerboard pattern, is one fantastic image among many in the film.
The film also isn’t afraid of letting Michael, or The Shape, get dark. There are some great kills in this film, and they function as more than the usual visceral horror fare. When Michael pierces a knife through a woman’s throat or hangs a poor kid on a iron fence, you feel his barbarity in your soul. Myers is once again the incarnate of evil that he was in the original film.
Halloween isn’t perfect. Some of the script choices are rather plain. One choice involving Michael’s psychologist, Dr. Ranbin Sartain (Haluk Bilginer), is almost laughably ludicrous. The film also leans on the humor slightly too much, and occasionally breaks the tension in the wrong spots. Some may feel that the themes of trauma and victimization are too lightly touched upon, yet the script’s character depth maintains an appropriate level for a horror film. Curtis and Judy Greer‘s performances as Laurie and her daughter convey some of the ideas that the script only flirts with.
Though it ignores most of the original movie’s sequels, Green’s Halloween contains references that should please long-time fans of the franchise. Many shots in the film are homages to the original masterpiece, but are just as effective without that context. This is a delicate tightrope to walk, but Green and his crew handle it well. The Carpenter score also perfectly blends the old iconic notes with new additions and tones to create something that is simultaneously fresh and nostalgic. Fans of Halloween 3 will get a nice little nod if they look closely enough at the costumes children are wearing.
Yet Green makes a convincing case that we don’t need to settle for a sloppy retread of the original, as Halloween fans often have done. His Michael Myers is once again a figure to be afraid of. After all, on Halloween, we’re all entitled to one good scare.
Last year Flickchart ranked the Halloween franchise from best to worse. Here’s where we think the new Halloween film should fit into that list, even if it takes the global chart a while to catch up:
- Halloween (1978)
- Halloween (2018)
- Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
- Halloween (2007)
- Halloween III: Season of the Witch
- Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
- Halloween II (1981)
- Halloween II (2009)
- Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
- Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
- Halloween: Resurrection