TIFF 2018 Review: Halloween

by Andrew Parker

Eclectic director and co-writer David Gordon Green proves to be a great fit to reignite the Halloween franchise with this sufficiently spooky, admirably gory, and exceptionally polished chapter in the ongoing battle between an unstoppable killing machine and the now eternally damaged woman who stopped his rampage forty years earlier.

Shatner-masked serial killer Michael Meyers (Nick Castle, returning to the role for the first time since John Carpenter’s original horror masterpiece) has escaped his psychiatric prison following a prisoner transport that goes awry. He slowly and methodically makes his way back to his killing grounds of Haddonfield to slice and dice some more unsuspecting victims, eventually wanting to make his way to ending the life of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), who thwarted the mute psychopath in 1978. Living as a hyper-prepared survivalist recluse, the now twice divorced Laurie has a permanently strained relationship to her adult daughter (Judy Greer) and only a slightly better rapport with her teenage granddaughter (Andi Matichak). Laurie tries to warn her family that Michael is coming, but they’ll only start believing their seemingly crazed mother just before it’s too late to stop the encroaching evil.

The Halloween franchise has been tweaked and reshaped so many times now that it’s hard to remember that Green and co-writers Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley have thrown everything out the window except for Carpenter’s original, so the fact that this stands as a giant eraser going over the rest of the franchise takes some getting used to. Green – whose talents for storytelling and crafting gorgeous visuals are put to exceptional use here – gets things off to an intriguingly modernist and artful start before settling into a more traditional and crowd pleasing slasher movie mode.

For fans of the franchise and horror movie purists, it’s an approach that will likely be loved or despised. It’s the kind of film that I could see a lot of people adoring and a lot of people vocally loathing. At any rate, Halloween is certainly entertaining and career reviving for nearly everyone involved thanks to a near perfect blend of humour and horror.

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