HALLOWEEN

Empire (UK) - - PRE.VIEW - CHRIS EVAN­GE­LISTA

DI­REC­TOR David Gor­don Green CAST Jamie Lee Cur­tis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Pat­ton, Vir­ginia Gard­ner, Nick Cas­tle

Af­ter 40 years in a men­tal asy­lum, silent killer Michael My­ers breaks loose and re­turns to Had­don­field, butcher knife at the ready. This time, how­ever, Lau­rie Strode (Cur­tis) — the sole survivor of his pre­vi­ous Halloween-night mas­sacre — is ready for him, de­ter­mined no longer to be a vic­tim. IN 1978, JOHN Car­pen­ter took a low-rent con­cept and turned it into a hor­ror mas­ter­piece. Lean, mean and ef­fi­cient, Car­pen­ter’s Halloween un­leashed a force of quiet, un­stop­pable evil — Michael My­ers, re­morse­less mur­derer more liv­ing night­mare than man. Halloween launched a fran­chise, and while many of the se­quels had their mo­ments, none could ever live up to the ghoul­ish heights of Car­pen­ter’s orig­i­nal.

Now, 40 years since the world first met Michael My­ers, di­rec­tor David Gor­don Green res­ur­rects the char­ac­ter, and at­tempts to bring some form of clo­sure, and dig­nity, to the se­ries, while ig­nor­ing ev­ery sin­gle se­quel that came be­fore it. The bad news: Green’s Halloween never comes even slightly close to cap­tur­ing the magic of Car­pen­ter’s film. Gone is the chill­ing ef­fi­ciency and the dread-soaked at­mos­phere. Green, work­ing from a script he co-wrote with Danny Mcbride and Jeff Fradley, in­stead at­tempts to go for broke, load­ing his Halloween with enough tricks and treats to sa­ti­ate hun­gry hor­ror fans. While the 2018 film has none of the stripped-down bril­liance of the 1978 Halloween, it suc­ceeds at giv­ing Jamie Lee Cur­tis’ Lau­rie Strode her due while mak­ing Michael My­ers scary again.

This is Cur­tis’ film through and through, and the ac­tress eas­ily slips back into one of her most iconic roles. The Lau­rie in the orig­i­nal Halloween was a ter­ri­fied teenager, ill-pre­pared to con­front such im­mit­i­ga­ble evil. The Lau­rie here is a survivor — and a fighter. She’s spent the last 40 years cer­tain that Michael My­ers would come back to fin­ish her off and, as a re­sult, de­voted her life to be­com­ing the ul­ti­mate badass. With a house rigged up with booby-traps and an ar­se­nal that would make The Pu­n­isher blush, Lau­rie is de­ter­mined not to be a vic­tim again. Cur­tis ex­cels at han­dling Lau­rie’s tough but some­what dam­aged state. She can take care of her­self, and then some, but she still bears the scars — emo­tional and phys­i­cal — of that long-ago Halloween night.

Un­for­tu­nately, her sur­vival in­stincts have cost her dearly. She’s burned through sev­eral mar­riages and alien­ated her daugh­ter (Greer). The only mem­ber of Lau­rie’s fam­ily sym­pa­thetic to her is grand­daugh­ter, Allyson (Matichak). To ev­ery­one else, Lau­rie is a kook.

Of course, Lau­rie is about to have the last bit­ter laugh — be­cause, sure enough, Michael My­ers (Cas­tle) breaks out of an

in­sane asy­lum and cuts a bloody path back to Had­don­field. Here is where Halloween is most suc­cess­ful. The fran­chise as a whole slowly turned Michael My­ers into a generic, pre­dictable slasher — some­one merely on hand to quickly dis­patch horny teens, and lit­tle else. This Halloween ef­fec­tively re­minds us of how uniquely ter­ri­fy­ing he can be: an ab­so­lute mon­ster, a walk­ing bat­ter­ing ram smash­ing his way through ev­ery­one and ev­ery­thing in his sight. He has no sym­pa­thy, no em­pa­thy, no hu­man­ity. He is an un­stop­pable killing ma­chine, and it’s un­nerv­ing and ter­ri­fy­ing to watch.

The Lau­rie and Michael seg­ments of Halloween are worth cel­e­brat­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, nearly ev­ery­thing else around them is not. A tacked-on sto­ry­line in­volv­ing Allyson and her high school friends is rushed and clumsy, and merely there to give Michael more vic­tims to dec­i­mate. And a plot­line in­volv­ing Michael’s new doc­tor (Haluk Bil­giner) bor­ders on laugh­able.

Thank­fully, Green stages a breath­tak­ing, ex­cit­ing and in­vig­o­rat­ing con­clu­sion. Mak­ing great use of shad­ows, and re­ly­ing heav­ily on sub­vert­ing ex­pec­ta­tions, the long-awaited show­down be­tween Michael and Lau­rie is worth the wait. Green clev­erly finds ways to ref­er­ence shots from Car­pen­ter’s orig­i­nal — only with the roles re­versed, bring­ing things full cir­cle. Lau­rie Strode is no longer the prey. The hunted is now the hunter.

Au­di­ences long­ing for a Halloween to ri­val the orig­i­nal are go­ing to be sorely dis­ap­pointed, but there’s enough raw power here to hold view­ers rapt. Per­haps re­al­is­ing em­u­lat­ing Car­pen­ter’s would be a fool’s er­rand, Green in­stead opts for cheaper thrills. Still, af­ter 40 years and some ques­tion­able se­quels, it’s a blast to see Michael My­ers back home where he be­longs.

VERDICT while it doesn’t cap­ture the magic of the orig­i­nal, this Halloween brings much-needed clo­sure to a troubled fran­chise, with Cur­tis ex­cel­lent and Michael My­ers pleas­ingly ter­ri­fy­ing again.

Clock­wise from left: Trick or treat? Or throat slit and a stab to the head?; Michael My­ers (Nick Cas­tle) makes an un­wel­come re­turn; And Lau­rie Strode (Jamie Lee Cur­tis) is ready for him.

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