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Halloween (2018) - DVD Review

Halloween

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

AT A TIME when the horror genre is getting a revival thanks to smart indie sleeper hits such as Hereditary, Get Out and The Witch, it seems almost negligent to try and revive the type of film that was partly responsible for its decline in the first place.

For while John Carpenter’s original Halloween is rightly regarded as a horror classic, subsequent sequels and reboot attempts have been largely derided. Fortunately, director David Gordon Green – with writing partners Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley, have opted for a different approach.

Rather than issue yet another follow-on sequel, this forgets that any sequel was ever made. Hence, Halloween 2018 is a direct follow-up to the 1978 classic.

What emerges is a film that pays due reverence to Carpenter’s predecessor, while also bringing in a few twists of its own. And while the results aren’t completely successful and hardly original, there’s a certain joy to be found in certain scenes.

Set 40 years after the events of the first film, the story picks up with Michael Myers still in custody and about to be transferred to a maximum security institution after attempts to psych-analyse him have failed. Halloween survivor Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), meanwhile, awaits his return at home, having locked herself away from society and made herself estranged from her own daughter, Karen (Judy Greer), and grand-daughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) too.

Needless to say, Myers escapes mid-transfer when his bus crashes, setting up the inevitable showdown with the Strode family. But not before he’s had chance to embark on an all-new killing spree involving teenagers and babysitters, as per the original.

Early on, Green’s film succeeds in creating something of a mystical quality to Myers, who remains wordless and maskless throughout. And he also delivers a suitably gut-wrenching way for him to reclaim the mask.

By paying homage to certain horror tropes, he also drops in plenty of scenes where characters behave stupidly, whether its stoned or sexed up teens placing themselves in harm’s way or key supporting characters (such as a pair of investigative journalists, a sheriff and a doubting husband). It allows Gordon a certain licence to be silly.

But there are ways in which he subverts expectation too. The fact he eventually pits three generations of Strodes against the killer is a clear nod to a more feminist approach, while there are a couple of neat surprises involving key characters.

Gordon also gives Curtis the chance to shine in the lead role, enabling her Laurie to reinvent herself as a sort of Sarah Connor from Terminator 2 – a plucky, muscular, gun-toting figure of empowerment, whose steely resolve is mistaken by those around her for madness.

Greer and Matichak also get moments to shine, too, toying with the notions of becoming scream queens, while also striking some feminist blows of their own.

There are problems, of course. The film sometimes finds itself caught in two minds over when to drop in knowing, post-Scream humour or all-out horror. It leans more towards the latter, when a lighter touch might have worked throughout.

And there’s no attempt to deconstruct the man behind the mask or to offer up anything other than a Terminator-style killing machine. Myers is a one dimensional villain, albeit an imposing one, whose default setting is simply to kill or be hurt trying.

There are brief attempts at examining the difference between the hunter and the hunted, as exemplified by several mirror shots of Myers and Strode. But these are too fleeting. The film is more interested in offering up another kill.

Hence, while the best current horror releases remain those willing to toy with convention or do something completely different, this Halloween is largely content to deliver what’s expected. It’s brutally efficient. But there was room for more.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 1hr 44mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: February 25, 2019

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