TIFF Review: ‘HALLOWEEN’ brings out its sharpest set of kitchen knives for Michael Myers’ return

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James Cole Clay // Film Critic

HALLOWEEN

Rated R, 109 minutes.
Director: David Gordon Green
Cast: Jamie Lee CurtisAndi MatichakJudy GreerWill PattonVirginia GardnerMiles RobbinsDylan ArnoldDrew Scheid, Jefferson HallRhian Rees and James Jude Courtney

Bringing back sick, nasty fun to the horror genre is a tough task for any filmmaker looking to prolong a series for all its worth. When that horror franchise is the granddaddy of them all, every detail is placed under the microscope by its most ardent fans. However, when the creator John Carpenter is here to back it up, serving as an executive producer and the music composer, all signs point to this being a success.

David Gordon Green’s “lega-sequel,” HALLOWEEN, is a brutally fun family affair that pays reverence to Carpenter’s 1978 original without putting on the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia too often. Jamie Lee Curtis is back reinventing her iconic character as a grandmother with some psychological baggage and a major vendetta to settle.

The film opens with two British public radio show hosts (Jefferson Hall and Rhian Rees) in search of of the infamous Michael Myers, who has been locked up and unmasked since the killings 40 years prior. The mask calls to Michael like he is Thor and that tattered William Shatner mask is his hammer.

Gordon Green (PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, JOE) sets the stage for the supposed final battle of a three generation’s long sibling rivalry that’s sure to end with some bad blood. Laurie Strode (Curtis) has been acting cooky for years, staying secluded in her home/war bunker. Her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) has all but written Laurie out of her daughter Allyson’s (Andi Matichak) life. It’s an awkward situation that sets the stage for the bloody affair that’s about to unfold.

Allyson has her friends at school (Virginia Gardner, Miles Robbins, Dylan Arnold and Drew Scheid), who make for some uber-gross fodder for slasher killings throughout the film, and they’re going out for a school dance. Meanwhile, the sleepy city of Haddonfield, Indiana, gets its dose of caffeine when Myers is back on the loose.

Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her iconic role as Laurie Strode in David Gordon Green’s “lega-sequel” HALLOWEEN. Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Gordon Green, with screenwriter Danny McBride, infuse life into the citizens of Haddonfield. This isn’t a paint-by-numbers view of horror; they spend their time making each person memorable in their own way. From Officer Hawkins (Will Patton), to a little kid named Julian (Jibrail Nantanbu) to even the goofy stoner (Robbins), they all contribute to the film feeling more like a hangout session over a nonstop splatterfest.

This is the most lethal Myers has been, which is surprisingly considering he has to be at least 60 years old. The silent killer smashes jaws, crushes skulls and moves with a purpose that shows he’s a formidable force. Creating death scenes in horror is a playground that Gordon Green clearly feels comfortable climbing around with 40 years of fans watching, and he excels.

Curtis has a blast hamming it up as Sarah Connor-like Strode. She’s brings a grounded, yet pleasantly gleeful Wile E Coyote approach towards tracking down her brother Michael. You believe her conviction as she cocks shotguns with a stone cold stare.

Carpenter’s score brings the best out of the film’s vintage feel. With a slower piano rendition of his famous theme and his classical pulsating synth, this sets the mood right.

HALLOWEEN won’t disappoint fans who have been longing for Michael to come home since the disappointing sequels of yesteryear. This one is back with a vengeance and it brings its sharpest set of kitchen knives to the bloody table.

[Grade: B]

HALLOWEEN premiered on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018 at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film will screen again as the opening night film at Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX. It will release nationwide on Oct. 19, 2018 through Universal Pictures.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.