Weekender Bahrain, Thursday, January 17 2019

He’s finally come home

admin 01-Nov-2018

He’s finally come home

A review of Halloween by Ahmed Zayani

If it hasn’t been established here before, then this one fact deserves reiteration; I absolutely ‘love’ the Halloween season. Everything about this time of year comes together beautifully to create one hell of an environment; the weather finally begins to turn, the seasonal eateries are to die for, and of course; we get subjected to an endless slew of (potentially) wicked awesome horror films. While the seasons from years gone by have offered us selections that ranged from mediocre to underwhelming, this year has been a surprising exception with films like Hell Fest, Summer of 84, Apostle, and The Nun (a film that I will defend til my dying breath) proving to all be a heck of a good time at the movies. Still, every genre fan worth his salt has been eyeing one specific film, one that has been four decades in the making. Finally, he’s come back home. But is it a worthwhile homecoming? 

Directed by David Gordon Green, Halloween is the sequel to the 1978 John Carpenter film of the same name and follows Laurie Strode (played once again by Jamie Lee Curtis) who’s still suffering from the trauma of her original encounter with Michael Myers on that fateful night forty years ago. Unbeknownst to her, her decades old nightmare will once again be realized as Michael Myers managed to escape police custody and is on a war path heading directly towards her. Truth be told, I had some reservations about this sequel when they first announced it. For one thing, the film was to be written by the duo do David Gordon Green and Danny McBride who’s previous writing credits include The Foot Fist Way and Your Highness, which aren’t exactly projects that exude confidence in handing over the reigns to one of the biggest horror franchises of all time. For another, the filmmakers made the decision to ignore all prior films in the series with the exception to the original, a thing which I was quite iffy about as the second film was my favourite of the bunch. Still, I’m not one to pass on a slasher film on the big screen, especially one that promises the return of an old time favourite. Since release, I’ve seen Halloween twice in theatres & look forward to seeing it once or twice more before it bows out. As far as I’m concerned, this reboot is every bit as good as Carpenter’s original & barely misses out tying with the first sequel. The narrative picks up forty years to the day the events of the original takes place and doesn’t miss a beat getting us reacquainted with the film’s key players. In this regards, the film did an admirable job balancing returning favourites with the new faces that could potentially be the faces of the franchise going forward. As always, Jamie Lee Curtis gave a wonderful performance as the now tormented Laurie Strode. This may be Curtis’ fifth time playing this role but it comes off as fresh thanks to the new direction the filmmakers chose to go with. I was also pleasantly surprised to see Judy Greer get quite a meaty role to chew on. Greer has been one of my favourites since I first noticed her in Jawbreaker yet she seemed to always be relegated to smaller bit parts so I was happy to see her front and center of this film. I also quite enjoyed the performances of Will Patton, Jefferson Hall, and Haluk Bilginer but if there’s one stand out player in the mix it has to be Nick Castle as The Shape himself. This is an altogether different take on Michael Myers, with his pent up four decades worth of frustration exploding on screen in all its gory glory. This war path could’ve been underwhelming had we had the wrong people behind the camera. That wasn’t the case here as we were treated to imaginative, wonderfully put together set pieces as well as splendid cinematography (there’s one scene that follows Michael through Haddonfield that is amongst the best work I’ve seen all year) all of this was further complemented by one of the best scores of the year with Carpenter himself coming back to work on the soundtrack.

Did I have any issues with the film? Well, while I have no major gripes, it did irk me a bit that a certain plot line was dropped out of nowhere and one or two of the effects (did I mention that they were practical?) border-lined on being slightly over the top for a film of this nature. That said, Halloween is still a fantastic entry into this (hopefully ongoing franchise) and is amongst my favourites of this year. I am comfortable in admiring that I was wrong to prejudge McBride and Gordon as they managed to not only give us one hell of a film but they also somehow washed away the repugnant aftertaste of the Rob Zombie duology.

Verdict: 9/10

For more cinematic intel, follow Ahmed on @theahmedzayani