TIFF 2018 Halloween Review Featured

Fantastic Fest 2018: Halloween Review

There are roughly 9,457 reasons why the new sequel/redux/conclusion(?) to the iconic Halloween franchise shouldn’t exist. After all, who makes the 11th movie in a franchise and essentially ignores everything but the 40-year-old original? In theory it should be silly and half baked, a pale imitation of a revered classic that benefits from the presence of Jamie Lee Curtis only to squander the opportunity. Thankfully, Halloween H20 is the movie that blew that shot. As for Halloween 2.0 (or whatever you want to throw next to the title to distinguish it from the original and remake). It’s easily the best movie to feature Michael Myers (serial killer/personification of evil version) since 1978. Yes, it is that good.

The story is best described only in what you know from the trailers. Four decades after that fateful night when Mr. Myers chopped his way through babysitters in a pale Bill Shatner mask, he’s back. But so is Laurie Strode, who spent all the years since plotting a way to finally kill that silent terror herself, while becoming a mother and grandma along the way. It’s simple, yet so is Halloween ’78. Complicating the mythology is where previous follow-ups fell on their face. Director David Gordon Green and co-writer Danny McBride  are clearly massive fans of the original masterpiece. They don’t want to screw it up, but give this gang the curtain call they deserve and god damn it if they didn’t succeed. From the moment their clever twist on the classic Halloween credits appears (complete with fresh music from John Carpenter and son), it’s clear these guys have come to play. They may not have made a horror movie before following up one of the greatest ever made, but that doesn’t mean they don’t understand exactly what makes Halloween special.

David Gordon Green confidently assumes the elegant widescreen horror pioneered by John Carpenter with ease. This is a beautifully constructed piece of cinema. The first few jumps n’ jolts play off the subtle suspense and shadowy surprises of the original before eventually matching the graphic nastiness of the underrated Rob Zombie remakes. The script is filled with humour, but never enough to undermine the terror. Most laughs are character based, as the flick is filled with actual characters who you don’t want to see die (don’t worry, they still do), yet there’s also a stream of clever in-jokes and references without ever stretching into overly winky Scream knock-off territory like H20 (even the delightfully insane Halloween 3 gets a big ol’ shout out). Jamie Lee Curtis is magnificent in her badass slasher-hunter mode, mixing relatable trauma with movie hero magic. There’s even enough subtext here to inspire an inevitable wave of think pieces about subverting the original final girl and shot-gunning all of the implied sexism of the slasher genre for the #MeToo era and it’s not by accident.

Yet, even if you don’t care about any of that, this is still one hell of a horror ride that’ll send popcorn flying through the theaters of Halloween (season) hopefuls seeking a cheap thrill. This is a Halloween movie for everyone and a minor miracle of franchise filmmaking. It’s the perfect finale for the beloved series and will hopefully stay that way. However, given that this also represents Universal Studios officially taking back ownership of the Michael Myers show for the first time since the early 80s, that’s probably not going to happen. This is going to be a hit and that studio has a merchandise wing and theme park built into their infrastructure. So, it’s safe to say that lil’ Mikey will return in some form or another. For now, just enjoy the perfect punchline to the Halloween saga before reality takes over.