Review by J.T. Johnson
DIRECTOR: David Gordon Green
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Michael Simmonds
WRITERS: Jeff Fradley, Danny McBride, David Gordon Green
MUSIC: John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, Daniel Davies
It has been 40 years since Michael Myers killed Laurie Strode’s (Jamie Lee Curtis) friends while Laurie survived on that fateful Halloween night in 1978. As it turns out, Michael was captured shortly after the events of that film and sent back to Smith’s Grove Sanitarium. Laurie has had her share of challenges in that time as well.
Over the past four decades, Laurie has been married and divorced twice and had a daughter Karen Strode (Judy Greer). Unfortunately, when Karen was 12-years-old, she was taken from her mother who has also become a survivalist that is always hoping that Michael will escape so that she can finally kill him. Sadly, her wish comes true and Michael returns to Haddonfield and brings terror not only to Laurie and Karen, but also Karen’s own daughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak) and Allyson’s own set of friends.
As a long-time fan of the “Halloween” series, I must say that I absolutely loved this film, but I must admit that it has a couple of problems. There are a couple of beats and even a couple of characters that I felt could have been cut in order to focus more on Laurie and her family. Also, the film’s violence is a bit gruesome in a couple of places and that feels a little out of place in a film that is also paying tribute to a film that, in reality, wasn’t really that bloody.
Beyond that, though, the film does its own thing and it does it amazingly well. Like the original film, it builds in tension as the movie progresses in what feels like a breakneck speed. Thankfully, this movie leads to a third act that is most definitely worth the price of admission.
Another factor that I like about the movie is that they never forget the sense that Michael is nothing more than a brutal and evil force in the world. The movie ignores all other sequels in the franchise, so there are no family connections between Laurie and Michael. Laurie is a scarred woman who went through a terrible night 40 years ago and Michael is the source of that pain that she wants to get rid of once and for all.
In fact, there is an interesting parallel and role reversal between Laurie and Michael. In a scene reminiscent from the first film, Allyson is sitting in her class in a scene very similar to one featuring Laurie in the first “Halloween”. Yet, when Allyson looks out the window, she sees her grandmother Laurie looking in on her instead of Michael and this shows that Karen and Allyson have been more haunted by Laurie and her past as much as Laurie has been by Michael.
The performances are pretty great all around, including the three actresses who play different generations of the Strode family. Curtis is fantastic as Laurie and while she is a badass, the filmmakers are not afraid to show Laurie’s own weaknesses such as letting her fear of Michael blind her from her family. While she may be the only one equipped to fight Michael, it has come at a cost over the years that may just be her own sanity.
Ultimately, this movie is not as good as the original “Halloween”. To be honest, though, I don’t think that’s even possible. I can definitely say that it lives up to the legacy of the original film and by the time the third act was finished, I was absolutely satisfied with what is definitely the best sequel in the long-running “Halloween” franchise.