In 1978, John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’ established the slasher genre of horror films, wherein a disturbed person or group of people use knives, hammers, & other such fun tools to hunt down and hack away at hapless victims. Back then, ‘Halloween’ focused on an element that terrified a lot of us as children by taking the boogeyman out of our collective imaginations and putting him into the closet where he was lurking to get us. The impact of Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’ was often imitated but never duplicated, even by its sequels. Fortunately, this new version goes back to the basics and ramps up what worked forty years ago. The iconic soundtrack, the spooky atmosphere and Michael Meyers’ familiar mask are all back to torment Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis).
But she’s had some time to prepare – in fact, obsess over her attacker for four long decades. That harrowing experience changed not just her life, but also that of her daughter, Karen (Judy Greer), in how Laurie’s paranoia affected her childhood and upbringing. Over the years, this has alienated Laurie from her daughter and to some extent, her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). This slasher excels when it plays on their fractured family, because it explores the psychological aftermath of a trauma survivor, and Jamie Lee Curtis absolutely owns the role. She brings depth to Laurie, making us care about her past and how it has affected her. Furthermore, Laurie’s insistence on being vigilant and overcautious is integral to the storyline, and wouldn’t work if not for the veteran actress.
If only the film had dedicated more time to this dynamic, ‘Halloween’ would supersede its prequel. However, some awkward sequences don’t fit into the proceedings. There’s a twist that is downright abysmal and seems to have been included merely for a shocking segue that doesn’t even last very long. Too many side characters crowd the narrative especially when they don’t add much overall, and instead, distract from the main plot. Fortunately, director David Gordon Green has the good sense to steer the film back to a tense, and satisfying climax. By ignoring all the other entries in the franchise and firmly connecting to its original, ‘Halloween’ revives an almost forgotten sub-genre and gives fans a bloody good time.