Michael Myers has been coming home for decades now, ever since he rampaged through the town of Haddonfield, Ill., in the 1978 horror masterpiece Halloween. The masked killer was supposed to be locked securely within a psychiatric hospital, but he escaped through many sequels and spin-offs. We’re supposed to forget all about those for the new Halloween, which is designed as a direct sequel to the original. (Then why is the new film titled simply Halloween? I worry about these things.) The creepy opening sequence depicts a Michael who’s been safely imprisoned for 40 years. Someone’s had the brilliant idea to transfer him to a new facility, which of course means putting him out into the world, which of course cannot be healthy for the world.
The date? October 30, 2018.
The same day, we re-encounter Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, obviously), whose life has been scarred by her teenage experience with Michael all those decades ago. She’s built a barricaded compound outside Haddonfield, assembling an arsenal that would impress the most hardened survivalist. Laurie’s daughter (Judy Greer) and son-in-law (Toby Huss) treat her with disdain, and Laurie’s granddaughter (Andi Matichak)—now a teenager herself—wonders why a woman who suffered a traumatizing incident during her high-school years can’t just “get over it.” (Sounds like the kid has the makings of a future U.S. Senator.) The stage is set, and the fellow who put the mask in toxic masculinity is loose again.
This Halloween has a real director, David Gordon Green, whose work has ranged from classic indies like All the Real Girls to big comedies like Pineapple Express. The original film’s creator, John Carpenter, has given the new one his blessing and is listed as executive producer. Green revives some favorite Halloween traditions: the way Michael (aka “The Shape”) moves through space, the way the camera glides down an American small-town street and makes the place feel uneasy, the creepy score by Carpenter himself. There’s a lot of gruesome knife-play, too, which wasn’t always true of Carpenter’s film.
A few scenes deliver authentic chills, such as the utterly spooky discovery of a bus accident by a couple of innocent bystanders. Overall, the suspense stays palpable, even through the obligatory scenes of stilted teen partying. Of course, Jamie Lee Curtis—19 years old in the original—has something to do with the suspense. Grim and unglamorous, she strides though the film with authority, and with 40 years’ worth of accumulated Halloween history. Even her introduction, the single word “Yes” heard through an intercom, is unsettling. Curtis gets a little overshadowed in the climax, but allegedly there’s a sequel brewing, so maybe it’ll all come out there. You didn’t think this was really the end, did you? As the Halloween movies keep telling us, there’s no time off for the boogeyman.
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