Halloween: Slasher sequel does the original justice without ever letting its mask slip

It’s been four decades since the events that terrified Laurie Strode on Halloween night in 1978. Now, Michael Myers has escaped from the Haddonfield mental asylum and is on a killing spree to bring him back to the one victim who got away.

There is a moment in the middle of Halloween that captures the roaming suburban horror of the original and the production team’s off-beat humour. A babysitter (the original victims of Michael Myers) is being brutally attacked. Downstairs, her stoner boyfriend plays with a motorbike, revving the engine, eyes glazing over. Eventually alerted to the threat inside, he rushes to help, brandishing a knife (a la Michael). But only after the child being babysat escapes outside shouting ‘you’re going to die!’ There is no better way of summating the sole unique slant on the otherwise faithful new Halloween.

The crew behind the latest edition to the franchise baffle. Actor Danny McBride, best known for his role in stoner movie Pineapple Express, and director David Gordon Green, mostly famous for comedies, collaborate to resurrect one of horror’s scariest franchises. It could have been a disaster.

Instead, McBride, Green and Jeff Fradley crafted a compelling story that hit all the right horror beats, infused their own brand of genuine comic relief and stayed faithful to much of the characterisation and atmosphere that made Carpenter’s 1978 original so iconic. Carpenter had no small role on the project, putting together the music and serving as executive producer. His influence is both telling and welcome. Green sells Michael’s murders in plain sight well, employing compelling camera work to alternate between keeping kills off-screen or placing us front and centre for the spray of blood. The mid-section of the film, with Myers wandering the streets of Haddonfield on Halloween night, is as disturbing as anything seen in a horror film in recent times. The film’s deaths generally – and special effects that go alongside – are rarely overblown either, making for a genuinely jumpy film.

The acting leaves a lot to be desired, as is often the case in horror movies, but the cast of relative unknowns do well in selling Halloween. Jamie Lee Curtis is stoic, haunted, and kick ass in equal measure throughout as protagonist Laurie Strode. Judy Greer balances repressed pain with motherly steel as Laurie’s daughter, while Allyson (Andi Matichak) rounds off the tri-generational cast of compelling female leads as Laurie’s granddaughter. The other actors, including veteran Will Patton, have little to do with the characters given as they struggle to keep up with Michael Myers’ murderous antics.

Sure, the film has some saggy moments. Like any slasher films, it has some staggeringly illogical behaviour in the name of advancing the plot. Yes, it’s not as good as the original. But 2018’s Halloween was never trying to hide behind that mask. We all just wanted a decent sequel to an iconic movie, and we got it. The experience of watching Laurie and Michael battling it out for blood on the big screen is a sight worth seeing.

A treat without any tricks, the cast and crew stick as faithfully to the horror of the original as possible. 7/10.

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