‘Halloween’ gets a girl power makeover
Forty years ago John Carpenter unreeled a creepy film with tinkling music, a stalking camera perspective, and a frightened babysitter hiding from a homicidal heavy breathing psycho named Michael Myers. When Myers added to the mostly off camera body count, a thin line connected the teen victims – premarital sex and “dumb” decisions.
The new reboot with a pick and choose alternative timeline conjures that Michael has been locked up for 40 years. It’s as if “Halloween II,” in which babysitter survivor Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) discovers she is the murderous Myers’ younger sister, never happened.
At the time of the 1978 release, shrink Dr. Loomis flatly stated, “Death has come to your little town” of Haddonfield, Illinois. Surviving the bloody night left Strode with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and possessing an instinctual pit in her stomach that the two will meet again. In the event that they do, she prepares for a proactive offense not the screaming of a hospital gown clad teen.
Strode has constructed her house as a booby trap for evil itself. There are cameras, cells, safe room, and weaponry. Although she did not train as a martial artist, her obsession with Michael has resulted in her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), being removed from her care. She maintains family contact through high schooler Allyson (Andi Matichak) who downplays Strode’s basket case condition.
Actually, Allyson’s peers pay only lip service to the Myers slaughter on Halloween. Only five died. The scene alludes to the fact that in the decades since the original film, homegrown rogue terrorists have wasted far more in real life. What’s the big deal with Myers, who coincidentally is among a bunch of psychos boarding a bus for transfer?
Director/cowriter David Gordon Green pays homage to the original, often in counter allusions. His female characters resist short cuts and pay attention to shadows. Law enforcement behaves like the “Jaws” Amity Island beach mayor – they try to keep the presence of Myers a secret.
For the first 30 minutes it’s all talk as a British investigative journalist couple hunt for details for their 40th anniversary analysis of the event. Poking into insane history opens them to falling victim.
Director Green toys with the jump scare shadows and large cuttery close ups. While Carpenter kept the gore off screen, it’s a toss up in the re-boot though nothing akin to the grisly torture of “Saw” or “Hostel” occurs.
Curtis holds this film together. She’s suspicious, tough and gritty. She’s not aged well so she’s not welcome even when Myers’ escape has been confirmed.
Capitalizing on the #MeToo movement and strong wonder women (Captain Marvel to come), this film empowers the victims and their manner of coping with post trauma life. Green seeks some form of grandmom/mother/daughter power statement. It’s a miniscule moment due to Myers’ body count and their own generational differences that require more than grabbing a rifle and shooting for establishment of strong female empowerment bonding.
This reviewer’s initial reaction included some disappointment – those missing stalking twinkling tip toe musical camera perspectives and Michael’s heavy breathing – but the “commentary” on random societal violence is fitting (especially Myers’ shape going door to door). Turning cliches counterclockwise is clever, too. More accolades for Blumhouse, cinema’s current horror tentpole magician.