Forty years have passed since Michael Myers made mincemeat of hapless babysitters. Halloween is the eleventh film in the franchise, but a direct sequel to the horror classic. Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode, but she isn’t running scared this time around. Director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Stronger) stokes the primal fears and elemental characters that birthed the slasher genre. If only he had kept that initial creative momentum. Halloween succumbs to the same tired tropes we’ve seen countless times before.
Serial killer Michael Myers (Nick Castle, James Jude Courtney) hasn’t uttered a single word during his four decade incarceration at a sanitarium. Two intrepid true crime reporters (Rhian Rees, Jefferson Hall) attempt an interview before his relocation to a more secure facility. They bring his terrifying mask; hoping to elicit some kind of reaction. He doesn’t move a muscle.
The reporters next stop is to interview the survivor. Laurie Strode lives secluded in the remote woods. Her house is a tactical fortress. She has no interest in talking, but can’t turn away easy money. Laurie scoffs at their naivete. Michael Myers is pure evil, an unrepentant psychopath. She kicks them out when the questions get too personal. Why did she lose custody of her daughter (Judy Greer)? Does she have a relationship with her granddaughter (Andi Matichak)? That night a pickup truck comes across a major accident. A bus carrying psychiatric patients has overturned.
Halloween transforms Laurie Strode into Sarah Connor. Just like in Terminator 2, the frightened girl has become a gun-toting, ass-kicking woman. This is the best part of the film and quite entertaining. Laurie has lived every day knowing that Michael would return. She has meticulously prepared and trained for this outcome. Laurie’s crippling agoraphobia drove a wedge between her daughter. But she’s ready to protect her family at all costs. Jamie Lee Curtis is terrific. She was the scream queen in her youth. Now she’s delivering payback. Michael Myers learns a hard lesson in retribution.
Halloween starts off strong, then becomes terribly cliched. David Gordon Green pays homage to a fault. All the contrivances that bedevil horror films are recycled and served up again. Armed characters acting nonsensically. Frantic teenagers running aimlessly in the woods. Michael Myers walking slower than a three-legged turtle, yet somehow outpacing all of his victims. Then you have the timing of John Carpenter’s Halloween score. Just like in every silly horror flick, it kicks in like clockwork when someone’s about to be shredded. The predictability to the scares drives me crazy. Green’s premise and character development is good. The filmmakers had a chance to put a stamp on the franchise by doing something different. Laurie Strode was updated, but the Michael Myers killing spree is pretty much the same.
From Universal Pictures, Halloween will especially resonate with the die-hard fan base. There are nods galore to the original. I’m giving the film a slight recommendation because of Jamie Lee Curtis. Her fifth portrayal of Laurie Strode rivals the first.