I adore the original Halloween, so I had fairly high expectations for this sequel. I’m extremely glad to say it lived up to my expectations and more. This entry takes place forty years after Michael Myers went on his infamous killing spree in Haddonfield, Illinois. He was sent to a mental institution after being caught, and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has been preparing for his eventual escape during the interim. She’s sacrificed her ties with her daughter to prepare for her revenge, and is soon thrown into the nightmare she’s been anticipating. That’s about it for the story, but this is a slasher movie, so I wasn’t planning on seeing a rich, layered plot anyway.
I love the aesthetic and tone of this film. It harkens back to a simpler form of film-making, and really sets off the nostalgia glands. The soundtrack is amazing, and every time I heard the opening notes of John Carpenter’s theme song for Michael, I had goosebumps pop up on my flesh. The cinematography and lighting are simple yet effective, highlighting what needs to be seen and hiding the scares in darkness. I also adored the Easter eggs to the original film that are sprinkled throughout.
The acting is hit-or-miss, but Curtis is a marvel as Strode, portraying her as both strong and vulnerable. She is exactly the kind of female role model that needs to be portrayed more often. Judy Greer is decent as her daughter Karen, but doesn’t really do much that is memorable. However, newcomer Andi Matichak is wonderful as Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson, and adds some warmth and teenage viewpoints to this horror flick. Most of the comedy (yes, there are jokes in this imagining) are largely contributed by Allyson’s friends, and they actually land…. most of the time. Most add much needed relief after terrifying scenes, but some are just puerile and left a bad taste in my mouth (especially from one teenage horndog).
Finally, I have to address Michael and his rampage. He’s even more of a threat in this movie, and is genuinely chilling. He’s brutal, relentless, and has no moral compass. There are a few genuinely effective jump scares, but most of the horror comes from watching Michael stalk his victims and seeing how he executes them. Most of the deaths aren’t shown as they’re happening, but reveal the gruesome results after the act.
Overall, this is a must-watch if you love the original Halloween and/or slasher films in general. This is a refreshing homage to the slashers of the past while also adding some new elements that enhance the experience. My only gripes are with the spotty acting and some of the humor (and some won’t enjoy the paper thin story). Otherwise, this is one of my favorite horror movies of 2018.
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**All images belong to Blumhouse Productions, Miramax, and Rough House Pictures