Halloween (2018) review

‘Halloween’ (not to be confused with the Halloween 1978 and Halloween 2007) is a kick in the teeth for long time fans of the series. Those teeth are then unceremoniously presented to a journalist hiding in a bathroom stall, but I digress. I, like many others, was hyped to see a return to form for the series. I was excited to see a film that not only captured the feel of the original John Carpenter classic, but was also truly frightening in its own right. Unfortunately,  this film’s worst failure is that it really just isn’t scary. Couple this with sloppy writing, surprisingly poor acting and some terrible directorial choices and this film is unfortunately, messier than an exploding pumpkin.

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Being fair, we’ll first analyse the positives. Director David Gordon Green clearly has endless respect for the original classic. The result of which involves practically every line is some sort of homage, reference or parody of the series’ long, mixed history. From the fonts used, to the cleverly reversed title cards sequence, it’s incredibly nostalgic. It’s also great to see Jamie Lee Curtis back in action, though Laurie Strode doesn’t escape the true horror of the picture: poor writing. The cinematography is also compelling in places: a tracking long shot of Michael on a street level rampage is a real highlight. However, while technically impressive, it equally and unfortunately also serves to make the eponymous bogeyman even less frightening, stripping ‘The Shape’ of any mystery or subtlety. In many ways, it feels like we are Michael, as we accompany him for the majority of his kills until the focus mercifully shifts to Lee-Curtis in the last half hour. One undeniable positive however, is John Carpenter’s score which is stunning. The Sega Megadrive esque 80s synth is wonderfully evocative of the original film, and the new tracks introduced are equally spine tingling.

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David Gordon Green tries hard to replicate the style of the first film, but in doing so, he neglects to infuse any personal affectations of his own, leading to a self-indulgent nostalgia fest that warmly greets Michael Myers like an old friend, instead of the terrifying Bogeyman. The lack of atmosphere mixed with the bizarre ‘comedic’ exchanges between secondary characters create a tonal dissonance that jars unforgivably between scenes, murdering the tension. This, sadly comes down to poor direction. ‘Halloween’ is Gordon Green’s first toe dip into horror, and it unfortunately shows, as, while made with love, the film feels more like a fan project than a well devised sequel to the tense original. Character motivations in particular are nonsensical and the actions taken by lead characters will leave audiences baffled, for the sake of a cheap twist.

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In conclusion, sadly, ‘Halloween’ is a blundering mess obsessed with capturing the spirit of Carpenter’s classic. As a result, much like Myers, it has no voice of its own. It’s lack of  a building atmosphere, generic characters, poor use of sound design and a bizarre amount of focus on Michael himself, make it a dull watch that only really heats up during its climax. By then, however, it’s already dug its own grave and marks itself as one of the most disappointing films of the year.

★★

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