Spooktoper 2018: Halloween (2018)-TIFF REVIEW

David Gordon Green’s revitalization of the 70s horror classic takes us back into Laurie Strode’s (Jamie Lee Curtis) life and that of her family’s. Michael Myers has, once again, escaped from the mental institution where he is being held, and continues to terrorize his old adversary on Halloween night. Instead of centralizing around her, we delve deeply into her family, specifically her daughter, Karen (Judy Greer) and her granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak).

Coming from a broken home, Karen Strode has a loathing for her mother because she ruined her whole childhood through the paranoia that Myers created for her. Laurie is tough, well-trained and ready for Michael’s return, but not everyone sees it this way. Possibly the most notably interesting aspect about this sequel is her relationship with the rest of her family. She is an outcast; no one else will talk to her. She must force herself into the lives of her daughter and granddaughter to interact with them. This dynamic is placed in the foreground as a very important plot device and they will, inevitably, have to work together when Michael returns.

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Something very important and interesting to explore are the homages and references to Carpenter’s 1978 classic. The most interesting one derives from the classroom scene in the original, where Laurie is looking out the window, and she sees Michael for the first time, across the street. A similar version of this is transcended into Gordon Green’s cut, but Allyson instead looks out to see her grandmother watching her from across the street. This is not only a fun homage but is a very clever eye into the new Laurie Strode. Very different from where we left her 40 years ago, this one shot shows us that something isn’t quite right. Her stance gives her the impression of Michael and with this one shot, Gordon Green shows us that Laurie has become something entirely different through her years of waiting and preparing for Michael’s return.

Teenage angst takes the form of a side-plot in this, being the vehicle of Allyson’s character. She’s in high school, the exact age that Laurie was in the original, and she goes through normal teenage activities, such as parties, boys, drinking; all the highlights of fun for that age. Unfortunately, this makes her susceptible to Michael’s terror. We know he went after teens in the original, so why wouldn’t he go after them again?

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This modernization gives us even more strong female leads, and these aren’t just strong characters, but they are also physically strong. The male characters appear almost useless; we don’t have a strong Donald Pleasence-type figure. This means that the entire focus must be placed on the three generations of Strode’s and it couldn’t possibly work better. Each generation gives us a different look on the situation; each one representing a different emotion that three very different people would no doubt feel. Laurie is confident; prepared after all these years of waiting for the Killer’s return. Karen is reassuring; she knows what her mother is capable of. Allyson is scared; having heard stories of Michael’s terror, she never thought she would be facing it herself. All of these make up the force that will attempt to take down Michael Myers once and for all, and each play a crucial role.

Overall, Halloween is possibly a Hollywoodized version of the original, but to me it is so much more. It’s an in-depth look at post-traumatic stress and the paranoia that comes with it. It’s a character study of one that we know and love, and more that we’ll soon learn to know and love. It’s respectful to the original, but also creates a new and interesting story along the way. It’s absolutely magnificent.

5/5

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Halloween Opens Nationwide On October 19th 

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