Arts

​A return to the basics makes ‘Halloween’ fresh, scary

“Halloween” doesn’t rely solely on over-the-top gore to punctuate its terror in the minds of the audience; the viewer is left at the mercy of the filmmakers — much the same as the victims being terrorized on screen.

Image By: Photo Courtesy of IMDB

The Boogeyman is back!

The latest installment of the remarkably everlasting “Halloween” franchise was released into theaters on Friday, Oct. 19, to massive box office numbers and positive reviews, giving both the long-dedicated and new fan something to be very excited about.

Director David Gordon Green (“Pineapple Express,” “Stronger”) delivers with a well-thought-out slasher-horror thriller that is in equal parts paying homage to the original film and its own take on this too-often stagnant genre of film. It asserts itself as a superior product to the current flock of movies about demonic possession, zombie outbreaks or otherworldly entities with old-school scare tactics long forgotten in today’s Hollywood.

Not lacking the expected violence factor that comes with a slasher film of any era, “Halloween” doesn’t rely solely on over-the-top gore to punctuate its terror in the minds of the audience. Through remarkably clever cinematography and a spine-tingling film score, the viewer is left at the mercy of the filmmakers — much the same as the victims being terrorized on screen.

A very different route is taken with this reboot, as the sequels following the original 1978 classic are disregarded and the film series is retconned or revised. This new movie serves as a direct sequel to the first film, taking place 40 years after the Haddonfield Murders committed by Michael Myers, a relentless and inhumanly strong serial killer portrayed as a representation of “pure evil.”

The cast is led by the original scream queen herself Jamie Lee Curtis, reprising her role as Laurie Strode from the original film series. Also starring are Judy Greer (“Ant-Man” films, “Jurassic World”) as Strode’s daughter Karen, newcomer Andi Matichak as granddaughter Allyson and Nick Castle reprising his role as Michael Myers/The Shape for the first time since the original 1978 movie, with stuntman James Jude Courtney also credited.

If you have been living under a rock and haven’t seen the quintessential 1978 “Halloween” film directed by John Carpenter, a synopsis can be found with a basic Google search. But, long story short: Michael kills a slew of Haddonfield teenagers on Halloween night upon returning to his home and turning his focus of rage to a teenage Laurie Strode.

Fast forward to 2018 and Michael has been kept in Smith’s Grove Sanitarium since his capture 40 years prior. He is visited for an interview by two true crime podcasters named Aaron and Dana. Intent on eliciting a verbal response from Michael, Aaron presents the infamous white mask donned by Myers when he committed his murders years ago. Aaron also mentions the name Laurie Strode — the sole survivor and escapee of Michael’s rage — which does appear to pique his attention.

Laurie has been dealing with post-traumatic stress ever since. She has divorced twice and had her daughter Karen taken away from the state when she was only 12 years old. Now an adult, Karen has a family of her own and tries to avoid contact with Laurie, as her paranoia and paramilitary survival tactics have made living an ordinary life impossible; Laurie is convinced Michael will eventually come back to finish what he started and wants her family ready. While Karen doesn’t believe her mother, Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson is less dismissive of her grandmother’s warnings and attempts to protect them.

This all becomes crucial when the unthinkable occurs: Michael escapes when the bus transferring him to a maximum-security prison crashes on a dark country road, eyeing a return home once again to conclude his prior spree.

Upon learning of Michael’s escape, Laurie knows that her time preparing has all come to this and what she must do: Kill Michael or die trying. What ensues is a fight for survival against a seemingly un-killable evil force that is equally entertaining and scary as it is creative and faithful to the source material.

Writers Jeff Fradley, David Gordon Green and Danny McBride (yes, that Danny McBride from “Pineapple Express” and “Eastbound and Down”) authored a story that is unique in that it never strays too far into the realm of impossibility. There are several twists and turns as one might expect and hope for from a film of this nature, and none of them feel forced or unbelievable. Similar to the original, which served as an attack on pleasant American suburbia, this new film declares war on our idea of small-town safety and the effectiveness of a lock on your door.

The obligatory murder sequences do get graphic at certain points, so be prepared to cover your eyes if that is something that bothers you. But mainly, the tension and fear are dependent on the lead-up to the actual act itself. An example of this is the use of motion sensor floodlights in a backyard of a house where Michael kills — surprise, surprise — a drunk teenager. Other than his trademark breathing through his mask, Michael is barely shown in this scene until he attacks his victim, but the presence of his breathing in the darkness gives the illusion that he is everywhere, that he is darkness itself — a clear commentary on his personification of evil itself.

“Halloween” is a solid eight out of 10. At a few points, the film suffers from the poor performances of the younger actors, but overall, I was left thoroughly entertained by the powerhouse performance of Jamie Lee Curtis and terrified by Nick Castle’s performance as Michael Myers all over again. Knowing it was the original actors from 40 years ago made it even more special for a fan of the series.

If I were to recommend any scary movie for this spooky time of year, I would say buy two tickets for you and someone you can hold on to for safety and go see “Halloween” as soon as you can. Just expect to sleep with your lights on; the Boogeyman is alive and well here in 2018.

Grade: B

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