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TREAT: New "Halloween" film a "great companion piece" to '78 horror classic

Universal Pictures
Jamie Lee Curtis (right) revisits her haunted Laurie Strode character in new "Halloween" film.
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A high-school teacher interrupts 17-year-old Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) as she stares out the classroom window at a mysterious man in a white mask to discuss fate from two author’s interruptions on the subject. Laurie discusses fate in the realm of religion but also as a natural element that humans deal with from birth to death. They agree that fate is a naturalistic force that drives humans and never changes.

As she takes another looks at the window to find that the peculiar man has vanished, Laurie would have never guessed that fate would bring the embodiment of evil upon her for decades to come — both physically and psychologically.

The original 1978 Halloween film is a masterpiece of not just horror but film in general.

Almost every horror film since has taken something from the John Carpenter/Debra Hill book of scares. Even if you encounter someone that doesn’t like horror, they most likely respect Halloween because it was crafted with an eye that adored filmmaking and not constructed just to scare, grab your money and run to the sequel. None of the sequels that followed with their contrived and endless retconning of the original film were created with the same vision, which makes it such a surprise that the new sequel from David Gordon Green is a very good, at times fantastic, continuation of the ’78 film.

Laurie’s twisted fate hasn’t led her far from the events of the first film. She’s still in Haddonfield because she isn’t running from the fear, she’s set up in a secluded house in the woods awaiting Michael Myers’ inevitable escape from Smith’s Grove Sanitarium.

Gray-haired and stone-faced, Laurie is in her mid-50s, alone in the woods after two divorces and having a daughter, Karen (Judy Greer), who gets taken away at an early age as Laurie is an unfit mother.

Laurie remains traumatized and suffering from alcoholism and PTSD as a result of the attack of Michael Myers in 1978.

Trauma is the subject that rarely gets brought up in horror films. We witness these terrible things happening to the protagonists and we don’t get to see the aftermath of how their lives are affected by such traumatic events. The Scream series does that quite well, but Green has elevated these topics where horror has never been before — a relevant tale of a woman mortified by a man that has had control of her life for four decades and seeks out the only form of closure she can have as she turns from victim to victor.

Laurie’s family life consists of trying her best to migrate back, but it usually ends with Karen telling her daughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak), that her grandmother isn’t around for a reason. At no surprise to Laurie, Michael Myers escapes, except this time, she’s prepared and won’t stop until she kills him.

Writer-director David Gordon Green and his co-writers Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley have an embedded desire for making a sequel that salutes Carpenter and Hill’s original film and has its own identity while collecting aspects from the first film to explore and explain more deeply without feeling tacky or as a way to continue the storyline for future films.

Green brings forth an artistic lens to a series that has struggled to follow up the artistry from the first film in its countless sequels, which simply imitated the slasher films that Carpenter’s film helped birth.

Highlights in this new sequel include an extended sequence where the camera follows Michael around his first visit to Haddonfield as he breaks into multiple houses and kills the occupants — in view of the camera and out. The camera follows him from behind, then will cut to a window while we wait for Michael to make his appearance inside then follows him out. It’s a sequence that recalls the opening Panaglide shot of the original Halloween without directly emulating it. Scenes like this can only be constructed by someone that wanted to bring back technical prowess to the series and has a deep love for the original material.

Characters aren’t stupid and don’t make stupid mistakes. Laurie’s granddaughter and her friends aren’t just sex-crazed idiots like how Rob Zombie realized young characters in his Halloween remake. Danny McBride’s comedic influence is very prevalent in the script and it is overbearing and unnecessary at times. Although, there is a quick-fire hilarious exchange between one of Allyson’s babysitting friends and the kid she babysits that works wonders, but goes on too long when Michael appears and one of the characters is still in stand-up comedy mode.

This is a completely different film from the original. Michael Myers isn’t stalking his prey or looming around to scare anymore, he’s walking directly towards them and brutally killing them. It’s a gruesome film complete with crushed heads, jack-o-lanterns made out of human faces, knives stabbed through throats and much more kills than any other Halloween film.

I do appreciate how every kill isn’t showcased with some taking place the background while we follow a character in the foreground. Gruesome, yet knows when to turn away.

What’s most notable about Green’s Halloween is that Michael Myers is much more realized as a man than a monster. In the original film, Carpenter goes out of his way to show the audience that Michael Myers isn’t a man, but the personification of evil that can’t be killed. In this iteration of Michael Myers, he’s the man that ruined Laurie’s life and brought forth generational PTSD that her and her family have to live with. It’s what divides them but unfortunately, it’s what brings them together as a bond that can’t be broken by any male aggressors.

This film was written before #MeToo but that doesn’t matter. This is the current culture of film and as a result, this is a response to that culture (think Night of the Living Dead being attached to films speaking about the Civil Rights Movement even though George A. Romero wasn’t trying to make a statement on it). Women taking back the narrative of their lives and no longer feeling victimized. Laurie is portrayed as a strong fighter, but not one that miraculously transformed in that. She wouldn’t have to waste her life away waiting to fight back if she was never assaulted to begin with.

It’s hard to pick apart Green’s vision of Haddonfield 40 years later. Jamie Lee Curtis has returned with a great performance after being screwed over by this franchise multiple times.

Those expecting just a reunion with Laurie and Myers without much else will be surprised at the level of care given to secondary characters and how they naturally lift up the character of Laurie Strode. It does what a great sequel should do, continue the timeline without changing what made the first film special, but trying something different with the original characters. It’s a great companion piece to Carpenter’s original film.

In 1978, Laurie Strode dropped a key off at the old Myers house while a boy she babysits tells her that “awful stuff happened there once.” Michael Myers appears outside as she walks off alone. “I wish I had you all alone. Just the two of us,” Strode sings whimsically while clutching her school books as Myers stands partially in frame and breathes heavily. Forty years later, those lyrics became a threat.

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Kevin Tudor

Born and raised in the mean streets of Yukon, Oklahoma, Kevin is currently majoring in...

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