Monday, October 22, 2018

Halloween 2018 Is The True Sequel To The Original

      Note: This review is SPOILER FREE

      The fall 2018 box office season has arrived with horror movies such as the Conjuring spinoff The Nun, making big splashes at the box office, but ultimately prove to be largely disappointing in terms of quality, and comic book movies like Venom breaking the October opening weekend box office record, but failing to generate the praise from critics to equal it's record breaking achievement. For the previous year, horror movies in general have enjoyed an impressive ride both critically and financially at the box office with Stephen Kings IT breaking box office records for September while generating some of the strongest reviews for any horror film released in 2017. Annabelle: Creation also enjoyed a similar performance with it's reviews marking it as being a large improvement over it's predecessor along with Happy Death Day making it's own splash at the Halloween box office season. For 2018, the horror movie genre continued to enjoy the impressive box office success it experienced with A Quiet Place surprising audiences with it's quality along with taking the top spot at the box office. In the case of Halloween, expectations were high for it to deliver on it's promise to be the first real sequel to the franchise in a long time rather than being another embarrassing entry along the lines of Halloween Resurrection. The last time audiences experienced Michael Myers on the big screen was in 2009 with Rob Zombie's horrific sequel to his controversial remake of John Carpenters 1978 classic. With the announcement of Carpenter's involvement in the new Halloween film, fans for the first time in decades found reason to be optimistic again with the popular horror movie franchise, that excitement was further cemented with the return of Jamie Lee Curtis to the role which made her famous and gave her the legendary title of being Scream Queen. Having seen the new Halloween, it can be said with the utmost enthusiasm that the new film not only meets the expectations placed upon it, but largely exceeds them while also managing to be the best entry in the series since the original (And this is coming from someone who loved Halloween ll).

       Halloween 2018 for all intents and purposes lives up to the promise of being a worthy sequel to the original masterpiece set 40 years after the events of the first film with Michael Myers escaping from the institution he's remained at since the events of the first movie, and comes to his final confrontation with Laurie Strode, the young babysitter who narrowly escaped his killing Spree four decades prior on Halloween 1978. What makes this sequel in particular a unique case compared to the one's that came previously, is how it chooses to ignore the other storylines including Halloween ll and H20, both of which played on the idea that Laurie Strode and Michael Myers are bother and sister. That subplot much like the films that played off it are nonexistent now, turning what essentially became a crime of passion into random occurrences as well as acts of confronting one's own worst nightmare. As painful as it is to see the storyline of Halloween ll eliminated as it was the strongest sequel prior to this one, it's omission makes the story as well as the main character terrifying again as he's not bound to chasing after just one person, but everyone can be a target of Michael Myers path of mayhem. Halloween 2018 to put it in blatant terms, literally makes Halloween great again as a franchise. This is easily the best and the scariest of the sequels as well as being the most well-executed in terms of writing and directing with a slick style and mood, that honors the work previously established prior by John Carpenter and Debra Hill. The film not only manages to wipe away the faults of the franchise such as it's messy timelines and lack of true fear and suspense to the storylines, but it also reinforces the belief that was established in the original that Michael Myers is the boogeyman rather than be a zombie like force that can't be killed. Michael is presented as being pure in this installment along with being much older like Laurie, but has not once lost his beat for hunting down and killing his prey. For the first time in years, Michael Myers is a presented as being a force to be feared, making you want to check your house and closets at night before going to bed. He's scary, he's terrifying, he's mysterious, and he's every bit as calculated and unpredictable as he was in the original. Gone is not just the sibling connection but also the nonsense that Rob Zombie added to the characters backstory with Michaels actions being the result of a messed up family. A quote from Wes Cravens Scream best sums up the character of Michael Myers, which basically says that some things are just scarier when there's no motive behind them. Carpenter understood this perfectly with the character and, and that's why removing the brother and sister subplot from the newest sequel was a sad yet bold move, that ultimately proved to be the right call as it made the character into an unpredictable killing machine again. Bringing Nick Castle back to play the part of Michael from the original was such a cool fan service to witness along with James Jude Courtney trying his hand at playing the iconic figure.

      As far as acting goes, Jamie Lee Curtis returns to the role that made her famous and gives her all with an emotional yet compelling performance playing a Sarah Connor type character in which she turns her traumatic experience into a reason to be prepared for the inevitable reunion. Hiding and living in fear of Michael one day escaping from confinement and coming after her, she chooses to be prepared by stockpiling weapons and firearms while basically securing her property with cameras. Much like the Laurie Strode in Halloween H20, who lived in fear of Michael finding her new identity, this version of Laurie Strode takes the aftermath experience of encountering Michael Myers to the extreme with Laurie being more prepared to face Michael after so many years while retaining some of Laurie's traits from H20 such has her alcoholism and children thinking she's over the top paranoid until they encounter Michael Myers for themselves. Whereas Halloween H20 had Laurie Strode as a mother fighting to save her son from a similar fate she barely dodged two decades prior, Halloween 2018 has Laurie as a mother whose nearly burned the bridge between her daughter and granddaughter until Michael returns home and they experience his rampage of terror firsthand turning them into believers. Despite not acknowledging any of the prior sequels to the original, the new sequel borrows elements from the previous films that worked well, particularly H20's elements. Judy Greer gives a strong performance as Laurie's daughter Karen Strode, showing the distant relationship the two keep from each other due to Strode's estranged behavior. Her characters strongest moments come later in the film when she finally see's for herself what her mother has been saying all those years. Will Patton delivers a likeable performance as the sheriff putting two and two together while revealing his own connection to the original murders. Andi Matichak does well playing the non-believing and vulnerable granddaughter of Laurie Strode. The performances as a whole, are among the strongest in the series with Curtis stealing the show and giving a high quality performance as usual. Curtis gives the character of Laurie Strode a level of complexity and a feeling of raw emotion that's often rare to come by these days in horror movies.

      On a technical aspect, David Gordon Green directs this one with a similar style of high energy that Carpenter brought to the original, Keeping the films budget on the low end much like the original works in it's favor in regards to relying on creativity. While not as masterful in regards to building terror and suspense, Green does a fine job of elevating the mood and creating a dark and creepy atmosphere, that makes it feel similar to Carpenters original vision. It is without question that Green is a huge Carpenter fan and studied the original Halloween closely in regards to building up the same style of suspense while not forgetting to have moments of character buildup prior to Michael making his strike. Even if the character moments are minimal and last only a few moments, they are vital as each character Michael kills off is felt by the audience. Green understood that one of the elements that made the murders of the original Halloween so effective, is how fleshed out and developed the characters in the original films were, so when they were killed off, it enhanced the terror behind the killings. Perhaps the films greatest asset as well as being the key to it's success, is the heavy involvement of John Carpenter as Executive Producer along with helping to carve out such an effective music score. This sequel feels like the one Carpenter would've made if he chose to direct a sequel to the first one so many years later, and the music just helps to drive home the terror and suspense of the story. The Cinematography is top notch with the film carrying with it a creepy atmosphere full of nighttime and lights. The film as a whole looks and feels like Halloween, Green does a solid job of drawing the audience into this world again then leaving them with a strong finish.

      For Halloween fans, this wasn't the sequel they asked for, but it became the one that audiences desired since the release of the original. The new Halloween does not disrespect nor dishonor the first movie, but instead wipes the slate clean with the franchise while providing an alternative version of Halloween ll that is set 40 years after the fact. For those who liked Halloween H20 but expected more from it as being a much anticipated sequel to the original, the new film is the sequel that Halloween H20 always wanted to be. Halloween 2018 does a terrific job of repositioning the series back to the standard it one was at while reintroducing the character of Michael Myers for modern audiences. The film throws out everything that isn't apart of the first movie, and chooses to go back to the basics using the typical slasher formula, that still proves to be effective. Halloween 2018 is the sequel that fans of the series have been waiting for and wanted for a long time. For those who grew up with the original Halloween ll and H20, it's sad to see the original sequels be erased from canon, however with the new setup that Blumhouse and Carpenter offer, fans can choose which of the two sequel storylines they prefer to watch after the original film ends. Not every Halloween fan will appreciate the new films erasing of the previous canon and want to stick to the traditional storyline of Michael and Laurie being brother and sister. That's perfectly fine but most of the fans will likely consider this one the true sequel to the original as it's not only the best executed sequel, but it does its very best to recapture some of the suspense and terror of the first movie while building it's own legacy. For Carpenter and the Blumhouse team, this one's a huge win as well as being a nice surprise for audiences. One of the best horror movies of the year thus far, and the best Halloween sequel since the first. It is the film that Halloween H20 despite being entertaining, wishes it was and should've been.

                                                                                                                      Final Verdict: SEE IT

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