TIFF Review: Halloween

Score: B+

Director: David Gordon Green

Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Nick Castle, Will Patton

Running Time: 109 Minutes

Rated: R

“Happy Halloween Michael.”

It’s a cheat really: pretending that the previous nine films in a franchise don’t exist.  However, in reality, it works as David Gordon Green’s Halloween picks up forty years to the day after the John Carpenter slasher hit took place, rightfully assuming that none of the other nonsense ever happened.

In the process, Green successfully brings Michael Myers (once again, Nick Castle rests under the mask) and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), the babysitter who got away, face to face for one final confrontation - a battle they’ve both been waiting for, but fans never thought they’d get.

This showdown alone makes Halloween a winner.  Not only because it serves as a wet dream to the millions of franchise fans but because it finally brings to a close the most iconic franchise in the history of horror cinema.  Including the likes of Curtis and Carpenter takes the experience to a new level, giving genre fans the finale they so rightfully deserve.

The film, which bears a modern look but purposefully incorporates colors and tones to match the original, marks the perfect homage.  A series of throwback scenes, as well as a flashback kill, help to bring the story full circle, offering up an experience that is made for the franchise faithful, but not overlooking the importance of introducing the Michael/Laurie relationship to new viewers.

Quite possibly the most intriguing aspect regarding Myers rests within his mind.  When he starts on a killing spree, there is no stopping him.  There appears to be no rhyme or reason for his actions, and each kill registers an enormous amount of intensity.  So what makes the man behind the mask tick?  What sets him off?  That is the question that psychiatric doctor Sartain (“the new Loomis” as Laurie puts it) wants to find out.  However, to uncover that truth humanizes the serial killer, and in effect removes a large part of what makes him so frightening.

Green and company find the dissection of Strode to be equally fascinating.  Tackling the post-traumatic effect from being the “final girl,” Green introduces us to a heavily scarred and paranoid Strode.  You can tell that our famed survivor has been through hell with merely a look at her face.  However, the effect doesn’t stop with her.  A significant part of the film analyzes the generational lineage of trauma as Strode raised her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) to properly defend herself once Michael returns.  Through that preparedness she alienated her only offspring, handicapping any degree of relationship with her or her granddaughter Allyson.

Though many place Michael on a pedestal as the serial killer of the ages, you have to approach Halloween from a different perspective.  Gone are the last nine films, and with them a large number of Michael’s iconic kills.  All that remains are the five from the original movie - Green more than triples that here.  Fortunately Green understands the new perspective, introducing Michael via a pair of podcast reporters who help to provide background on the famed killer, and also play a key role in returning the mask to our villain.

After Michael escapes the transport bus and reclaims his mask he wanders around his old neighborhood holding a butcher knife - it is Halloween after all.  This segment serves as a tip of the hat to the original, satisfyingly doing what was done forty years ago, just compressing it into a forty minute timeframe (see what I did there?).  The kills happen in quick succession, allowing Myers to refill his proverbial bedpost with the notches that have mysteriously disappeared.

In reality, we are all waiting for the confrontation, the bloodbath, the kill.  When the events start to lead all of our main players to Laurie’s isolated country home, laden with hidden rooms, isolation bars, and traps, you know that the final clash is fast approaching.  Curtis embodies the badass we all know that Laurie is, taking on her now rumored brother in a real fight for life and peace of mind.  Though much of the third act centers around Laurie's tricked out house, there is just enough blood to make it all work.

While this Halloween serves as the perfect final chapter to the age-old franchise, this is horror, and horror never seems to die.  All that considered, it's a great feeling to experience the hype, adrenaline and scares that come with the presence of the infamous Michael Myers - oh and that timeless score, flawlessly modernized for this thrill ride of an ending.


About Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis
I owe this hobby/career to the one and only Stephanie Peterman who, while interning at Fox, told me that I had too many opinions and irrelevant information to keep it all bottled up inside. I survived my first rated R film, Alive, at the ripe age of 8, it took me months to grasp the fact that Julia Roberts actually died at the end of Steel Magnolias, and I might be the only person alive who actually enjoyed Sorority Row…for its comedic value of course. While my friends can drink you under the table, I can outwatch you when it comes iconic, yet horrid 80s films like Adventures in Babysitting and Troop Beverly Hills. I have no shame when it comes to what I like, and if you have a problem with that, then we’ll settle it on the racquetball court. I see too many movies to actually win any film trivia contest, so don’t waste your first pick on me. My friends rent movies from my bookcase shelves, and one day I do plan to start charging. I long to live in LA, where my movie obsession will actually help me fit in, but for now I am content with my home in Austin. I prefer indies to blockbusters, Longhorns to Sooners and Halloween to Friday the 13th. I miss the classics, as well as John Ritter, and I hope to one day sit down and interview the amazing Kate Winslet.

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