Horror is a genre that repeats itself, in the mode of the folkloric traditions of storytelling that preceded it. This is proven in not only the longevity of Halloween but its central figures such as the final girl and the ability of its monster in the white mask to still scare audiences decades after his introduction.
David Gordon Green’s addition to the world of John Carpenter’s Halloween works both as a love letter to a film that has become even bigger than the horror genre itself - Michael Myers (Nick Castle reprising the role) and ‘the night he came home’ is synonymous with ‘70s moviemaking as much as mythological folklore. It’s also littered with winking visual references to the original that is sure to please fans, all done with affectionate humour thanks to Danny McBride’s script.
In an echo of the original, Michael once again escapes from the mental hospital where he has been kept for forty years, mute. There is a gruesome freshness to the modes of killing undertaken by him, a macabre surprise to audiences that may feel desensitised to the man in the white mask.
As shown with Rob Zombie’s disappointing remake in 2007, Michael Myers works best when we take him as the Boogeyman, The Shape, instead of trying to understand his psychology (this is a man who has been shot and stabbed too many times to count and always cheated death). This is where the film seems divided into two halves, where the first part of the film is headed by two British journalists (Jefferson Hall and Rhian Rees), as fascinated by Myers as the audience are, but obsessed with finding a human side to him, a psychiatric explanation. They are rewarded for this in gleeful fashion.
The second half, focusing on the three generations of Strode women - Laurie (Curtis, in libertarian gun-toting revenge form) her daughter (Greer), whom finds her mother’s fears troublesome, and her own daughter, Allyson (Matichak) - is where the thrills pay off, and adds pathos in passing down the final girl baton to the youngest.
Halloween in 2018 versus 1978 works by not only adding a self-referentiality that wouldn’t be amiss in a Wes Craven feature but by catching up with Laurie, it gives us a sense of what it is like for the final girl, once the credits have rolled.
Even today, society is still not primed to understand trauma or mental illness. So much so that even Laurie’s family deem her as a crazy old woman who should let go of the past. The movie works as a narrative on trauma and its long-lasting effects, as well as Michael and Laurie’s inability to let one another go almost a commentary on abusive cyclical relationships (“You ever had a girl that you just couldn’t get over?” is one quote that jumps out).
Halloween works by instigating and enmeshing the most potent primal images associated with horror; the pumpkin, now melting, knives, the boogeyman in the closet.
By focusing on a female survivor that is no longer the hysterical, screaming final girl, but a woman who can protect herself and her family, Gordon Green offers up a Halloween that, while not beating the original - an impossible feat - gives us a version for a modern era.
HALLOWEEN / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: DAVID GORDON GREEN / SCREENPLAY: DAVID GORDON GREEN, DANNY MCBRIDE, JEFF FRADLEY / STARRING: JAMIE LEE CURTIS, JUDY GREER, JAMES JUDE COURTNEY, NICK CASTLE, ANDI MATICHAK / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 19TH
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10