The title of the new Halloween film now in theaters should’ve been Laurie Strode vs. Michael Myers. That sums up this sequel set 40 years after the original 1978 classic.
Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her role as Laurie, the victimized teen prey of the original. Four decades later, Laurie is an agoraphobic prepper waiting for the masked killing machine Michael Myers to return.
However, Laurie isn’t the prey this time, but rather a ferocious predator in her own right. More action-heavy than the original, the new Halloween sparked brief flashes in my mind of Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor fighting Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator.
Director David Gordon Green capably echoes the style and tone of the original but falls short of capturing its essence. Green’s Halloween is well executed with scenes of nail-biting suspense and nostalgic nods to the original but lacks the seasonal atmosphere and slow-burn dread so effectively used in John Carpenter’s horror masterpiece.
That’s not to say the new Halloween isn’t good. It’s a top-notch slasher with Curtis delivering a passionate performance as a mother and grandmother hellbent on protecting her family and continuing Doctor Loomis’ mission of watchdog and hunter.
The new one didn’t quite live up to the original for two reasons, and those reasons aren’t the film’s fault.
First, the best part of the original is Doctor Loomis played with grit, humanity, sly humor, and urgency by the late Donald Pleasence. His character was the heart and hero of the original, and no one in the new Halloween approaches the charisma of Pleasence.
The second reason is familiarity with the villain. The original unleashed Michael Myers onto an unsuspecting middle-class neighborhood as well as us unsuspecting moviegoers. I knew I was watching a horror movie, but I had no idea what to expect.
The mask, the relentlessness, the tilt of the head, the stilted walk … it all coalesced to form an unknown, unpredictable evil. Forty years later, we and Jamie Lee know exactly what Michael Myers will do, sapping some of the magic and element of surprise.
Like I said, those reasons are not the film’s fault, and they don’t take away from the fact the new Halloween is a thrill ride for horror fans, featuring a twist I didn’t see coming and a staunch female empowerment theme.
To paraphrase a line I recently wrote in my HorrorAddicts.net book review of Cannibal Creek: “Like a solid cover version of a favorite song, Halloween is respectful of the original material and a worthy addition to the slasher genre.”
RATING: ♥ ♥ ♥ (out of 4)
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