Jamie Lee Cur­tis gives riv­et­ing per­for­mance in ‘Hal­loween’

Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow - - MOVIES - BY RAFER GUZMÁN

Af­ter some 40 years of send­ing half-naked girls to their deaths at the hands of an emo­tion­less male psy­chopath, t he “Hal­loween” fran­chise fi­nally turns the ta­bles. In David Gor­don Green’s “Hal­loween,” which shares its ti­tle with John Car­pen­ter’s genre- defin­ing orig­i­nal from 1978, the hulk­ing fig­ure of Michael My­ers — he of the face mask, jump­suit and chef’s knife — re­turns to his old hunt­ing ground of Had­don­field, Illi­nois, but be­comes al­most as much preda­tor as prey. In a sym­bolic twist, his foe is the fa­mil­iar face of Jamie Lee Cur­tis, repris­ing her role as Lau­rie Strode, the baby sit­ter he failed to kill the first time around.

“Hal­loween” is a hor­ror film that tries to meet the new fem­i­nist mo­ment and — al­though writ­ten and di­rected by men — most- ly suc­ceeds. Its strength is Cur­tis’ Lau­rie, no longer a qua­ver­ing teenager but a griz­zled trauma sur­vivor. Now a gray-haired recluse liv­ing in a weed- choked com­pound, Lau­rie isn’t the ag­ing hip­pie she might ap­pear to be but a dooms­day prep­per stocked with sup­plies and mu­ni­tions. Her daugh­ter, Karen (Judy Greer), long ago shut her out and now keeps her own daugh­ter, Allyson ( Andi Matichak), away from Lau­rie’s “boogey­man” rav­ings.

Tech­ni­cally, Lau­rie died in “Hal­loween: Res­ur­rec­tion,” but so what? ( This film ig­nores most of the fran­chise.) The new Lau­rie is a great twist on an old archetype, and credit goes not only to Green and co-writ­ers Jeff Fradley and Danny McBride but to Cur­tis, who brings a sinewy phys­i­cal­ity and a flinty in­tel­li­gence to her for­mer scream-queen role.

“Hal l o wee n ” gets off to a slow start as it ex­plains Lau­rie’s past and sets Michael (James Jude Court­ney) up to es­cape from his im­pris­on­ment. Once he does, the movie be­comes a rea­son­ably ef­fec­tive slasher film, with Michael go­ing from house to house and teen to teen.

Still, “ef­fec­tive” isn’t what we want f rom a long-ges­tat­ing show­down be­tween two hor­ror-movie icons. The slow- burn buildups go too quick, and the blood­shed feels bru­tal but rou­tine: knives into throats, boots into brains, etc. And when Lau­rie and Michael fi­nally meet again, we get a few clever twists but not the emo­tional cathar­sis we ex­pected. “Hal­loween” could have t ruly ex­ploded some of its own myths; in­stead, it’s con­tent to keep the fran­chise alive.


Jamie Lee Cur­tis as Lau­rie, front, and James Jude Court­ney as Michael My­ers in “Hal­loween.”

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