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Review: Halloween is gory, fun, and well done

Michael Myers returns to Haddonfield once again to slice and dice teenagers.
Photo courtesy of Blumhouse

Myers is back and better than ever

by Isaiah Mancha and Alexander Elmore

After narrowly escaping an Oct. 31 killing spree in 1978, Jamie Lee Curtis returns 40 years later as Laurie Strode to face off yet again against Michael Myers in 2018’s Halloween.

Set in the town that no one should live in at this point, Haddonfield, Illinois welcomes back Michael for the holidays, except this time Laurie is ready. In fact, she has been preparing her whole life, even “praying for this night.”

As the bodies of teenagers and unsuspecting trick-or-treaters pile up, Laurie gathers her daughter, Karen (Judy Greer), and granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak), to face off against the unstoppable killer that has had a profound and individual effect on each generation of the Strode family, despite two of them having never previously experienced the killer’s wrath.

Halloween is a thriller with something on its mind, which comes as a surprise. As much as it’s an incredibly graphic (albeit fun) film about mindless manslaughter, it’s also a film about the relationships between mothers and daughters, the effects of trauma, and the (largely involuntary) inheritance of emotional baggage.

Director David Gordon Green and Cinematographer Michael Simmons pull off a number of impressively composed shots throughout the film, adding an unexpected but appreciated touch of beauty to the horror.

The best of these shots tracks nearly five minutes of Michael walking through a neighborhood of trick-or-treaters, going in and out of houses, collecting weapons, committing murders, and just generally acting malicious, all with an eerie frame that drifts steadily behind him—making the audience feel complicit in the murders. 

The characters also have surprising depth, likeability, and believability, except for one. Dylan Arnold’s portrayal of Cameron, Allyson’s boyfriend, is poor and forgettable. He is introduced early on, appearing in many scenes, until he is caught making out with another a girl. After that, the character disappears and is never mentioned or shown again. 

It’s a disappointment due to him starting off as a main character, and rather than facing consequences for his wrongdoings, he’s left alone and without closure, whereas his best friend has a small role and is innocently killed off. Why this odd decision to end one story line but leave an arguably bigger one hanging? Who knows.

Halloween offers a slight amount of comedy to ease viewers’ minds away from the murderous acts taking place. Midway through the film, Allyson’s friend, Vicky (Virginia Gardner), is babysitting a young boy named Julian (Jibrail Nantambu) who offers comedic relief by being a loud but sensible character who just really doesn’t want to die. 

The murders themselves are on another level of violence compared to the previous films in the franchise (though viewers need only be familiar with the original film as all others are discounted).

From skull bashing to being clobbered with a hammer, from having teeth maliciously pulled out to being impaled on an iron gate, the deaths are gruesomely creative. The creativity of such violent acts is what makes the movie frightening as it makes unrealistic, brutal deaths look disturbingly real. 

With a plethora of nods to the original John Carpenter film, even the most nostalgia-riddled viewer will be pleased. Gordon Green’s reboot of the franchise and reimagining of the Strode/Myers legacy yields successful, devilishly fun, and altogether frightening results, making Halloween a must-see.

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