Who knew that a horror movie sequel not associated with “Evil Dead” could be this good or this empowering?
“Halloween” is not any ordinary cash grab sequel. It’s a movie about generational trauma and overcoming it that ultimately blasts its source material out of the water.
It’s part of a trend I’ve seen lately of story continuations to older works. “Ash vs. Evil Dead” and “Cobra Kai” are the best examples I can give of this phenomenon, where aged characters must wrestle with their psychological trauma while facing a challenge from their pasts.
I’m proud to say that “Halloween” succeeds for the same reason that those series do. The production quality is high, and instead of rehashing old material, the movie delves deeper into the characters and their lives to see how the consequences of the original movies have affected them.
In this “Halloween,” Laurie Strode is a silver-haired recluse who lives in post-traumatic paranoia and is distant from her daughter and her family. That tragic Halloween night when she lost her friends has defined her whole life. She has spent the past 40 years preparing herself and her daughter Karen for Michael Myers’ unlikely return.
Myers, in the meantime, has been living in an asylum in a near catatonic state that no one can wake him from. However, when two investigative journalists accidentally wake Myers up from this psychological stupor, he escapes during a prison transfer and returns to Haddonfield to kill again.
When Myers finally catches up to the one who got away, it’s up to Laurie and the next two generations of her family to stop Myers for good.
There are too many good things to say about this film. It would have been so easy to make this just a cheap movie rehash to satisfy all the old fans, but instead, everyone went out of their way to make this movie as good a product as they possibly could, and you can really feel that effort.
For one thing, the movie’s use of cinematography is just wonderful. The way camera angles are used to build suspense is brilliant, especially when it comes to Michael Myers.
There are many times when Myers is acting in the background while other characters are acting in the foreground, much like in the original. Then, you lose sight of Myers and don’t know where he’s gone until the eventual kill. Then, the film may only let you hear the process and show the result when he’s done or do something else creative to build up the suspense leading up to it. The amount of creativity on display is enjoyable to watch and really raises the fear factor.
The film relies on suspense more than gore to get scares, and for the most part, it’s extremely effective. The gore when it’s shown looks terrifying, but it’s clearly not the focus. It’s all about the suspense, and it’s nice to see that John Carpenter still knows how to do it.
Another thing this film has going for it is the script and acting. The script for “Halloween” is better than it has any business being. Not a single line is boring or forgettable. The main characters are great, of course, but so are the minor characters. Every minor character has interesting things to say and every actor delivers those lines as well as they possibly can. Again, it feels like every writer and actor in this film went out of their way to do as good a job as they possibly could.
The third thing going for “Halloween” that I’ll mention here is how honestly it portrays the characters and their trauma, particularly with Laurie Strode and Michael Myers.
Laurie’s obsession has warped her life. She can barely cope with being out in public. She was divorced twice and lost custody of her only child. Her own daughter refuses to speak to her, and her granddaughter Allison is stuck in the middle as a reluctant peacemaker. It’s only when Laurie is forced to face Myers again to protect her family that she can come to any sense of peace or closure. Without going into spoilers, seeing her fight back is unbelievably satisfying.
Michael Myers is not nearly as complicated, as is expected. I mean, he is an iconic serial killer who’s meant to be this terrifying force of nature, but here, he feels like something slightly more sympathetic. In the scenes where the audience follows Myers, it’s clear that he still has the mind of a child. Killing is the only thing he knows, so it’s all he does and he’s clearly past the point of ever being saved from that mindset. It’s remarkable. Somehow, “Halloween” manages to make Myers both terrifying and somewhat sympathetic. That is not something I expected.
Going above and beyond is what I can praise this movie for the most. All the combined effort makes “Halloween” more than just another slasher film sequel. It makes it a thought-provoking film about trauma and the triumph that comes with overcoming it. It is the new slasher film sequel to beat, and I can’t wait to see what else this new wave inspires.