Halloween 2018: Michael’s back, back again

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Rating: ★★★

Happy Halloween everyone! What better way to celebrate than with my review of the latest in the Halloween franchise?

40 years after John Carpenter’s iconic horror film, we are greeted with a brand new instalment in Michael Myers’ saga. It feels like a really special moment for horror fans, as we reflect on the original decades later. The opening credits pay homage to the 1978 and provide some nostalgia for long time fans by using the same text and soundtrack that audiences would’ve seen on the big screen back then. This was a great stylistic choice as it really gets you feeling pumped for what’s to come.

The film opens with Myers in a high security facility, where two true crime podcasters attempt to communicate with him in order to learn more about him and the murders he committed. Unsurprisingly, Michael refuses to say anything, providing a seriously uncomfortable moment for the audience. Throughout the film, we don’t see or hear him, and shots of him without the mask are always the back of his head. I would have been very disappointed if they’d decided to show his face throughout, as this sense of facelessness is something that’s always scared me about him. He’s a silent killer, never jumping out and screaming, but hiding in the shadows waiting to strike at any point. Most interactions with Myers are tense, uncomfortable and nail biting. His presence alone has that effect on you.

As ever, it was a joy to see Jamie Lee Curtis reprise her role as original Myers’ victim, Laurie Strode. Throughout the film, Strode’s paranoia is hard to brush off, and actually makes you feel more on edge. It was great seeing how she’d aged, yet refused to move on, and Curtis really brought her to life once again. She was the highlight of the film for me, as she was far from a cowering victim, and someone who wanted Myers dead for good. Having said that, you can tell how much she still fears him and how she’s suffering with long-term PTSD after almost being murdered. Let’s face it, anyone would feel the same way.

Unfortunately, I did find some of the acting a bit cringeworthy and it took away from the overall experience. I know that horror films have a bit of a reputation for terrible acting and dialogue, but I felt like such an important franchise deserved better than that. In my screening there were a few laugh out loud moments, and I don’t think all of them were intentional. One thing I will say is that child actor Jibrail Nantambu is one to watch because he was such a character and brought some genuine humour to the scenes he was in. I hope he goes far. Michael’s handler Dr. Ranbir Sartain is also an interesting character that I won’t say much about, but his development throughout is particularly great.

Admittedly I would’ve preferred less focus on teenagers, families and their dramas, and more on Michael and the actual kills. The film was meant to be about him and Laurie, after all. Whilst I was mostly satisfied by the brutality and some really gruesome moments, I felt it had been hyped up to the point where I expected more. Is that bad? Have I just become desensitised to bloody moments? I’m not quite sure. Having said that, one scene in particular did have me on the edge of my seat so it was still able to provide that adrenaline rush despite all its flaws. I’m still really bloody scared of Michael Myers.

Overall, Halloween is certainly watchable and a great visit to the cinema, especially this evening. Whilst I’m not the world’s biggest Halloween fan and there are certain films in the franchise I haven’t even seen, I still enjoyed this and understood what was going on. If you’re a big horror fan, particularly of the classics, give this a go. It might give you some welcome nostalgia and scares, and maybe that’s enough.

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