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Review: Halloween – “Made with palpable care and obvious love and respect”

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40 years after John Carpenter’s original Halloween changed the face of independent filmmaking and made an unforgettable impact on the horror genre, Michael Myers is back in a new Halloween film. Directed by David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) and written by Green and Danny McBride (Alien: Covenant), the new instalment sweeps the board of every other sequel and elects to acknowledge only the original.

Four decades after an escaped lunatic murdered three of her friends on Halloween night, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is still living in Haddonfield – but in a heavily fortified compound in the woods on the outskirts of town. Estranged from the rest of her family after having her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) taken into care due to her survivalist lifestyle, Laurie secretly keeps in contact with her daughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) – all the while training and remaining vigilant for the day she knows that Michael will escape again and come for her and her family.

Class – not a lazy cash-in – Halloween is made with palpable care and obvious love and respect. Laurie’s damaged mental state and her struggle to protect her family even though she has lost them is the beating heart of the film. The overriding focus is very much on how Michael’s actions have not only caused her PTSD but subsequently poisoned three generations of this family’s women.

Of course, Michael does escape and his journey back to Haddonfield and ensuing rampage, while the citizenry is trick or treating, is a wonderful slasher ride. Truly scary, there are some great setpieces as The Shape stalks Allyson and her friends while also offing babysitters and unfortunate randoms galore in brutal and gruesome ways. The film absolutely nails Michael here with the original Shape (Nick Castle) providing instantly recognisable movements and traits from his head tilt to the playing with his food that makes Myers special among a pantheon of masked slashers.

There are also plenty of moments that are not just fan-pleasing but also fan surprising. For instance, moments that are recreated shots from the original but with Laurie standing where The Shape previously did on the surface seem like simply fan service but actually serve to highlight and enforce that Laurie and Michael’s predator-prey relationship is shifting.

The third act is extremely unpredictable where it thrillingly feels like you have no idea where this is going to go or end, but that it could be absolutely anywhere. When Laurie and Michael finally clash it makes for a titanic and surprisingly empowering showdown and whether the nightmare, and the franchise, is, or isn’t, now over – Halloween is back. Micheal Myers is back.

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Halloween is released in the UK on the 19th of October.

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