Fantastic Fest Review: ‘Halloween’ is scary good blend of nostalgia, freshness

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Universal Studios

 After a wearisome number of sequels, writers Danny McBride, Jeff Fradley and David Gordon Green decide to take a stab at a new “Halloween.” 

In an attempt to create a fresh, yet genuine sequel to Debra Hill and John Carpenter’s 1978 original, the trio axes the mythology of all previous films, and it works. Director Green’s “Halloween” is a scary, fun and incredibly visceral experience. 

Forty years after the horrific Haddonfield murders, two investigative journalists (Rhian Rees and Jefferson Hall) visit a mental health facility in hopes of uncovering secrets from that fateful Halloween night. Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer), Michael Myers’ psychiatrist allows them to speak with Michael before transporting him to a different facility the next day. Without his infamous mask, Michael’s face is only seen through glimpses. As the journalists try to speak with him, Michael’s silence and his fellow patients’ groans and howls create a dreadful feeling that can make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Just like that, the sheer terror of Michael is back. 

“Halloween” retains some of what made Carpenter’s original version so special — slow tension, eerie atmosphere and a truly terrifying Michael Myers — while also injecting fresh life into the story. There are plenty of nostalgic moments sure to make any “Halloween” fan smile. One example is a play on a scene from the 1978 original where Laurie saw Michael staring at her through a window at school. This time, it’s Allyson (Andi Matichak) looking out the window only to see her grandmother Laurie Strode looking back. It is as fun as it is haunting with Green’s play with role-reversal between Michael and Laurie throughout the film. 

But what makes “Halloween” all the more gripping is how McBride, Fradley and Green explore what most horror films rarely dive into to — looking at intergenerational trauma. 

Along with Nick Castle as Michael, Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie, delivering one of the most impressive performances of the whole movie. Curtis is both striking and heartbreaking as we see a gun-wielding Laurie 40 years later, still dealing with the aftermath of the Haddonfield murders as she waits for Michael’s inevitable return. She’s estranged from her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) just wants a proper relationship. 

“Halloween” digs into the complexities of trauma, and Michael’s return personifies that terrifying pain. Nick Castle, who played Michael Myers in the 1978 “Halloween,” returns for a scene as Michael Myers/The Shape while James Jude Courtney takes over for the rest of the film. Both bring the Michael we know and love back as the menacing bogeyman. Green’s use of slick tracking shots follow The Shape’s slow, unnerving steps chillingly set to John and Cody Carpenter’s amazing revamped score as The Shape goes house to house killing almost everyone in his path. The kills are more brutal, yet Green keeps it from being too over-the-top. 

McBride, Fradley and Green’s “Halloween” is not only a worthy sequel to Carpenter’s original, but a great movie on its own. On the outside, it’s a fun slasher film, but on the inside, it’s a haunting way to examine trauma. “Halloween” fans, get ready for a bloody good time. 

“Halloween”

Runtime: 109 minutes

MPAA Rating: R

Score: 4.5/5