independent

Thursday 15 November 2018

Climactic showdown aiming to appease fans of classic horror series

Film review: Halloween (18), 6.5/10

Judy Greer as Karen and Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode in Halloween
Judy Greer as Karen and Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode in Halloween

The boogieman does exist and for decades, he has taken the towering form of masked maniac Michael Myers in a series of blood-drenched thrillers, which began with John Carpenter's seminal 1978 slasher Halloween.

Director David Gordon Green and co-writers Jeff Fradley and Danny McBride casually disregard the nine films which followed for a comfortingly old-fashioned return to the scene of the original crime: the sleepy community of Haddonfield.

Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle reprise their roles as ultimate survivor Laurie Strode and Michael for a climactic showdown that will appease fans of the series, set to the chilling strains of Carpenter's repetitive synthesiser score.

There is nothing self-reverential, knowing or fussy about this Halloween: Michael surprises and overpowers his victims using familiar tactics and the deaths are relentless, clinical and exceedingly grisly.

There are occasional flashes of mordant humour like when a sheriff (Omar Dorsey), who is on the trail of Michael, realises that the madman's rampage coincides with the date of his first killing spree.

'What are we gonna do? Cancel Halloween?' drolly quips the law man.

Thankfully not, otherwise audiences would be denied one of the stronger instalments of the long-running series.

As the 40th anniversary of the Haddonfield murders beckons, true crime podcasters Aaron Korey (Jefferson Hall) and Dana Haines (Rhias Rees) visit Smith's Grove rehabilitation facility.

They meet psychiatrist Dr Ranbir Sartain (Haluk Bilginer), who oversees the day-to-day care of notorious inmate Michael Myers (castle), and foolishly attempt to bait the patient by brandishing his mask. Alas, Michael remains eerily silent so the journalists focus on Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), the one woman to survive Myer's bloodbath.

She has become a recluse inside a fortified cabin with a basement panic room.

Laurie is reluctant to share the gory details of her past or talk about the estrangement from her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak).

Soon after, the bus which is transferring Michael to a new facility crashes and the hulking predator is released back into the wild.

He heads to Haddonfield where an agitated Laurie tries in vain to prepare her loved ones for the coming storm.

'Say goodbye to Michael and get over it,' sighs Ally, dismissing her grandmother so she can party with boyfriend Cameron (Dylan Arnold) and best friend Vicky (Virginia Gardener).

Halloween repeatedly bows its head to Carpenter's original film, relying on solid jump scares to ensure a spiralling body count.

Curtis transforms Laurie into a gun-toting avenging angel, who has secretly prayed for Michael's escape so she can lay him to rest forever with the pull of a shotgun trigger.

Action sequences are briskly choreographed and the script neatly aligns female characters as a unified force of strength against a male aggressor.

Fingal Independent

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