All I want to do is gush about HALLOWEEN–the latest entry in the horror franchise (and potentially my favorite)–as well as spoil every moment that made me cheer. But don’t worry, this review is as spoiler free as I can make it. Writer-director David Gordon Green and writers Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley did such justice to the fans and the franchise itself, I can’t imagine that anyone could give this a bad review. I saw HALLOWEEN with the most hyped crowd you can imagine in the Midnight Madness screening of the Toronto International Film Festival. It was awesome to see Jamie Lee Curtis and the rest of the cast and crew sit through the film and experience the fandom-fueled atmosphere. The crowd got even more hyped when the cast introduced the film and Curtis screamed, “Happy Halloween Mother F**kers!!” followed by a menacing amble across the stage from The Shape himself. I can’t imagine what the filmmakers must have been feeling to hear all of the constant screaming and cheering from the audience throughout the film.
As a direct sequel to the 1978 HALLOWEEN, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has had her life turned upside down from that terrifying Halloween night that almost killed her and left four others dead. Over the last 40 years, she has been suffering with PTSD and obsessively preparing for the eventuality of Michael Myers coming back to finish the job. Of course, this paranoia and fixation on security has caused friction with her personal relationships, including her daughter (Judy Greer) and granddaughter (Andi Matichak). But when Michael returns this time, Laurie is not going to be the victim; she is the reckoning.
I love the original HALLOWEEN so much, especially Jamie Lee Curtis’ revelatory performance as Laurie Strode; and I used to watch HALLOWEEN H2O every day with my friends. But believe me when I say this HALLOWEEN, which is a direct sequel to the original, is going to knock your socks off. Besides HEREDITARY, I have never felt so tense and stressed in a horror movie screening. I am sure the amplified emotion of the crowd didn’t help my stress levels, but at times I felt like I was going to have a stroke! Green is able to turn Michael Myers’ terror up to notches we haven’t seen before, with several scenes that are sure to make any fans of the franchise weak in the knees. And even as the terror keeps ratcheting up more and more, there are still bits of humor that seep through to give your blood pressure a breather.
I hardly ever cheer in movies, especially when I am sitting by myself, but boy did I cheer in HALLOWEEN. It just spilled out of me in several scenes, maybe as a tension relief, but also… why wouldn’t I when a movie is such a freakin’ love letter and wink to fans?! Also, you better believe that when there are strong female characters involved, I am going to be screaming and cheering my head off when they get any punches in… I mean the trailer alone has Jamie Lee Curtis shooting guns and going full Kevin McCallister. I promised I wouldn’t spoil anything, but y’all, those guns aren’t the only ones Curtis shows off in the movie. Yep, she is still rockin’ some serious biceps that made me want to go back to the gym immediately.
The dynamic between the three generations of Strode women is undoubtedly the heart of the film. Of course, Jamie Lee Curtis is the clear standout, whose performance is rooted in the depths of trauma with a realism unlike any scream queen we have seen before. Green and McBride write this Laurie Strode as a survivor, a woman waiting for her chance to finally take revenge on a monster that has haunted her life and nightmares all of these years. This isn’t a cash grab for Curtis, whose respect and admiration for a franchise that catapulted her career, shines through in this performance and was apparent during the Q&A following the film. Curtis knows Laurie Strode better than anyone else, and was able to take the impressive script to the next level through her layered performance. Judy Greer is also fantastic, with a meaty, multi-dimensional role that was full of amazing surprises. She also has the best moment in the film, which generated a level of cheering that blew the roof off the building and caused us to miss another iconic line from Curtis that we were thankfully filled in on during the Q&A.
What may appear as a book-end to the HALLOWEEN franchise probably rests in whether or not the leading ladies get killed off (I promised I wouldn’t spoil anything) and the film’s success at the box office. But if the crowd of screaming HALLOWEEN fans (myself included) at my screening is any indication, we have a serious hit on our hands and should be looking for some resurrection of the franchise. Hopefully this time, Busta Rhymes will stay away.
My Review: A