David Gordon Green's 2018 incarnation of 'Halloween' feels like an old-school slasher film with its many almost-cliche moments and classic music. This is just one of many boxes the film ticks to make it a success.
A direct sequel to the 1978 classic all these years later would be criminal without its spine-tingling piano riff – so don't worry, it's there. Even the opening credits are a nod to the original film. However, its retroactive continuity means that every previous sequel to the original is being ignored. Perhaps for the best.
Bringing back Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, 'Halloween' opens on two people making a podcast, immediately signaling that it's not the '70s anymore. In fact, it's exactly 40 years since the events of the first film – which happens to have also been released 40 years ago. The element of that real time having passed makes you feel as if you're watching actual events unfold.
The performances are great throughout. Laurie is a vengeful, broken woman with every intention of taking Michael Myers down and Jamie Lee Curtis handles the overly paranoid and extra cautious character with care.
As for Michael himself, the serial killer (played by Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney) is as terrifying as ever with his deadpan mask and cold-hearted killing throughout Halloween. There's not much substance to Michael Myers, yet somehow he seems fully three-dimensional here. A credit to the actors playing him.
Andi Matichak fits comfortably into her role in as Allyson (Laurie's granddaughter). She shows real care and sympathy for what her grandmother experienced in the past and this translates well on screen.
Another stand-out performance is by Judy Greer as Laurie's daughter Karen. It's clear that Karen wants to forget about the life she lived growing up with her PTSD-stricken mother and focus on her own family, and Judy shines showing the frustration Karen feels when this focus is broken by Laurie. As more of a one-note character she also gets a satisfying and long overdue emergence toward the end.
Aside from the actors on screen, something that really gives 'Halloween' personality is how it is handled from a behind-the-scenes point of view. Not only is it shot beautifully, but there are moments of building suspense where you're beginning to predict when or how a scare might happen, before you're proved wrong by the production team. This is a great method for horror. It means the audience is constantly being challenged and kept on their toes. What more could you want as a director/producer?
Blumhouse Productions have made a point of creating high quality low budget films and 'Halloween' is no exception. With a budget of under $15 million (very small for a Hollywood-scale sequel), it uses filmic devices like slow panning, fast cutting and the magic of suspense to create a project that leaves a lasting impression. It's a pleasure to walk into a film as well-crafted as 'Halloween' knowing it was made with (by this industry's standards) little means financially.
Much praise is warranted for both the cast and crew of this great film. Uncomfortably long moments of suspense, building tension, gruesome death scenes and steady but well thought-out plot points all play their part in sculpting a (long overdue) triumphant successor to this staple in slasher film.