John Carpenter’s “Halloween” has spawned several mostly-awful sequels, reboots, and reinterpretations. At this point one could hardly blame you for rolling your eyes at the prospect of yet another “Halloween” movie. Thankfully, after decades of disappointment, director David Gordon Green’s (“Pineapple Express,” “Stronger”) follow-up is more treat than trick. He and his co-writers Danny McBride and Jeff Bradley have given us the best sequel yet.
Taking place forty years after the events of the first film (and mercifully ignoring all the others), we catch up with a world-weary Laurie Strode (once again portrayed by a stellar Jamie Lee Curtis) who’s been living with crippling post-traumatic stress and survivor’s guilt since narrowly escaping Michael Myers’ brutal rampage on Halloween night back in 1978.
But Laurie hasn’t just been feeling sorry for herself this whole time. Despite the relentless ridicule from neighbors and family members, Laurie’s adamant that “The Shape” will return and she’s spent her life preparing. She’s fixed up a cabin on the outskirts of Haddonfield to resemble a survivalist camp. We’re talking barbed-wire fence; security cameras; flood lights; rolling steel doors for every room and, of course, a concrete-fortified panic room stockpiled with enough firepower to make Sarah Conner feel at home.
At the same time Laurie’s paranoia has driven away those closest to her, including two ex-husbands and an estranged daughter, Karen (played as an adult by the always welcomed Judy Greer), who was taken away from her mother by social services at the age of 12. Flash-forward forty years and Karen is trying to keep her mother at a distance while raising her own daughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak), who just wants her mother and grandmother to work out their differences.
This compelling and surprisingly timely generational dynamic boasts three wonderful performances at its core and distinguishes “Halloween” from other films in the series. It’s unfortunate then that this unique aspect doesn’t get the attention it deserves because its film is consistently and jarringly jumping between a bunch of secondary plot threads which feature tired character tropes making dumb decisions that conveniently move Michael geographically closer to Laurie until the two eventually square off in what is, admittedly, a thrilling final showdown.
John Carpenter too makes a triumphant return to the franchise, this time as a producer and co-composer of the brilliant score which experiments with haunting new riffs on his iconic theme, which hits at just the right moments throughout the film to make the hairs on the back of your arms stand up.
I’m led then to the conclusion that “Halloween” is a film that works best in exciting spurts as opposed to a satisfying whole. While its core triple dynamic offers a new spin for the series as well as some terrific performances, those relationships and characters never feel truly realized because the film is always in a rush to get to where it’s going. Still, Green and company clearly possess a knowledge of the slasher sub-genre and harness it to craft some genuinely tense scenes along the way and their eye for detail will not go unrewarded for fans of the franchise.
Have you seen “Halloween?” What did you think? I want to hear your thoughts, so hit me up in the comments below!