Having survived the massacre of Halloween night back in 1978, Laurie is living a life of isolation and paranoia in the backwoods of Haddonfield, Illinois. Estranged from both her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Alyson (Andi Matichak), Laurie must now deal with her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from the brutal murders from her past. As the plot unfolds, Laurie must balance her inner turmoil with the impending news of Myers’ escape and eventual return the very same town he committed murders in four decades ago. Director David Gordon Green does a brilliant job of conveying emotional instability in his protagonists. The mechanization and militarism of Laurie’s shack symbolize her capitulation to fear. This film is as much a vehicle for its monstrous villain as it is for its tortured protagonist.
Back in 1978 director, John Carpenter created one of the most influential horror films of the decade with Halloween. Both thrilling and gruesome, the original film initiated a horror revival that spawned six sequels and franchise through its main villain Michael Myers. But unfortunately, as with any mass produced series, Myers devolved into a parody of himself that resulted in numerous twists and plots that seemed shady at best. But now, forty years on, Michael Myers returns in a sequel that washes away all the mishaps of its predecessors and delivers a satisfying continuation of the serial killer’s rampage on Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her family.
The death of Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance) left room for a new voice of reason in the film series which comes in the form of the deceased psychiatrist’s understudy, Dr. Ranbir Sartain ( Haluk Bilginer. Bilginer’s performance is riveting and at times just as maddening as his psychotic subject Myers. The director does not waste a frame on unnecessary exposition and gives each of his characters space to become organic in the world of the story. Normality is a privilege in the world of Halloween, Laurie being the only voice of reason. Nobody believes Myers could ever return and much like a chorus in a Greek play, Laurie almost has to sing the truth in order to be heard.
Green does a fantastic job in bridging the gap between the original film and its sequel. This is most exemplified when Laurie humorously calls Dr. Sartain the “new Loomis”. Such nods to the original without trying to replicate its nuances give the 2018 sequel a fresh coat of paint to a once worn out series. The director knows the balance between comedy and brutality without degrading the film into a black comedy. In terms of editing and shot composition, Green is on his A game, with the tight close-up angles and jarring jump cuts during the final confrontation in Laurie’s shack, symbolizing the chaotic entrapment of the protagonist during that moment. Only a director with great technique and skill could visualize everything a character feels in just a sequence of shots.
Cinematography and Setting
The film does not rely on jump scare tactics to terrify its audience. Myers is as organized as a hired Assassin. Hiding in the shadows and using the blanket of darkness to cover his tracks. This is brilliantly evoked during the scene in the courtyard when Myers moves in between the shadows right before he attacks Alyson’s school friend. The lighting juxtaposes chiaroscuro effects much like a classic noir film of Hollywood’s golden era of the silver screen. Haddonfield is a fictional town brought to life by its citizens and landscape. The streets are barely lit to where the shadows overcome the actual inhabitants. Myers moves between houses with ease, slicing and bludgeoning his way to the final sequence. This is truly a masterpiece in horror filmmaking and is a sequel that shows not be missed.
A Sequel That Outshines Its Original
In the end, Halloween is a must-see film hands down. Everything from its cast of characters to its witty dialogue gives the film an atmospheric vibe that is perfect for the holiday of its namesake. Green makes right on everything the original sequels had done so wrong. Rather than altering the formula, the new Halloween perfects it through a string of classic horror tropes that are timeless. Watch it, rinse and repeat, and make sure to soak up Curtis’ brilliant portrayal of a fragmented soul whose youth was taken from her on one fateful night by an essence of pure evil. If Myers must end here than this horror icon has been given a truly fitting send-off.