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

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.