FILM REVIEW: HALLOWEEN

Finally, the film we’ve been anticipating for over a year is out. Halloween is now at the cinema and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Before watching, I read reviews, both good and bad, but I had no expectations, just hope.Halloween 2018 film poster

And what I can say is that David Gordon Green really understands what John Carpenter’s movie is about and he understands the filmmaking behind it.

Green directed not only a perfect sequel to the 1978 film, but also a film that responds perfectly to our time.

Halloween hints at Trump’s America, where kids hold guns and it shows the horrible results it has.

It stands out in an era of over-explained heroes, villains and stories by going back to its origins and the idea that what we cannot explain is scarier.

Halloween also responds to the #metoo movement and the rise of women’s power.

This film could not be better timed.

Halloween is written by Danny McBride, Jeff Fradley and David Gordon Green. It stars the one and only Scream Queen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer as her daughter, Karen, and Andi Matichak, as her granddaughter, Allyson.

It wipes the slate clean and ignores the other Halloween films, becoming a direct sequel to Carpenter’s original.

Laurie is not Michael’s sister and he is not the sum of any witchcraft. He is evil itself, he is “The Shape”.

Although in the Halloween timeline, this film is second, it pays tribute to some of the other films either in dialogue or in death scenes. There are very small details that no one other than a die-hard Halloween fan would notice.

Laurie Strode with a gunIn this chapter, 40 years have passed, and Laurie’s life has been shaped completely by the killings she survived in ’78.

She is unable to sustain a romantic relationship or even one with her daughter, who is taken at the age of 12.

As Laurie puts it she is a “basket case”. She still believes Michael will come back and she has been preparing herself for the moment.

This Halloween is about trauma and the effects it has on the survivors, and moreover, on everyone in their life.

Laurie prefers to sacrifice her relationship with her own family if it means they are going to be safe. And in this paranoia, Laurie becomes a broken soul who desperately wants to be alright and to put her past behind.

But she also wants Michael to come back, so she can finally kill him – she doesn’t believe that by being locked up he will ever stop.

And, of course, he comes back. And on Halloween, nonetheless.

This time, the police take the situation seriously. They know of what Michael is capable.

Waiting 40 years to be able to kill again…

With white hair, a scar in the eye where Laurie punctured him with a wire hanger, and his worn mask, his obscurity still hides any sign of humanity.

He still hasn’t muttered a single word. He hasn’t tried to escape. He’s waited for the perfect chance to go after Laurie.

Laurie’s encounter with Michael is cathartic. It almost feels like she is exorcising her demons with every shot and grunt and stab.

If in the first Halloween Michael wasn’t stopping at anything, in this film the unstoppable one is Laurie.

Ultimately, she’s not alone. This time she has Karen and Allyson by her side.

Two generations of Strode

In the first Halloween, we were introduced to the resourceful Final Girl. In the latest Halloween, we are introduced to the force of women when they stand together.

Although Karen and Laurie have a broken relationship, Allyson tries to reconnect with her grandmother – almost as the younger generation is doing today, reclaiming their power and believing other women.

Karen, however, deals with her own trauma. Not by Michael, but by her mother. Laurie forced her to learn how to use a gun at the age of eight and Karen wants to run from that. She doesn’t believe the urgency and the need to be that scared.

She is against it until the moment she needs to protect herself and her daughter; she uses her strength by disguising it under a façade of weakness.

And Allyson, much like her grandmother did 40 years ago, subverts the expectations of femininity – she wears a suit to the school dance, she doesn’t let herself be treated badly and she demands, and expects, respect.

Yes, she runs, but she also holds the knife tightly whenever she needs to without hesitation.

And Laurie is flawed. She’s fearless, but she’s afraid. She’s strong but she also has a weakness; all of which make her a human character.

She runs, but she is not running away like she did in Halloween H20. In this film, she is running towards Michael and towards her destiny, not just embracing it but shaping it herself.

Green’s Halloween feeds perfectly our nostalgia hunger and it also carries a stamp of originality.

Michael attacking LaurieSome of it comes in the form of jokes, as the filmmakers behind this project come from the comedy genre. The comic relief doesn’t bother me that much, but it certainly did not help at times.

I’m not saying some of the dialogue wasn’t funny, but it just didn’t belong in the scene.

It’s not believable when someone cracks a joke when a dangerous serial killer is after them, and as a member of the audience I felt robbed of my right to be scared when not even the characters in the scene were seemingly afraid

Moreover, there is this idea that the police will bring us comic relief. Maybe Hitchcock introduced that when he made everyone who was wearing a police uniform entirely useless, and that is something that belongs to horror films in general.

Even Scream 4 used two police officers’ dialogue as the comedic moment the film didn’t need.

In Halloween this is no different. Two police officers have a conversation about a hamburger, that it came straight from John Travolta’s mouth in Pulp Fiction. In those moments I felt the need to have more tension; it would’ve made the film much scarier.

Michael MyersThe death scenes felt as if they came directly from 1978. Halloween isn’t gore or shock driven. Its character driven, and Laurie was steering the wheel perfectly into the climax of the film.

The killings are an ode to Carpenter, and different from contemporary horror films. Most killings happen off-screen, and we only see the aftermath.

And all because Halloween isn’t torture-porn. It’s about trauma and the lingering effects of it.

Moreover, it’s a celebration to John Carpenter’s 1978 masterpiece.

It’s not perfect, of course, but it’s a very, very good film!

By Bruna Foletto Lucas

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