Fantastic Fest 2018 Review: HALLOWEEN (2018)

By Mark Saldana 

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

This year’s Fantastic Fest kicked off with a wickedly delightful treat of a horror flick which serves as a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s original 1978 film.  Now I know this was already attempted with 1981’s Halloween II, but Blumhouse, writer/director David Gordon Green and co-writers Jeff Fradley and Danny McBride have chosen to ignore that second installment and do their own thing, all with the appoval of Carpenter himself.  The result is a gripping slasher thriller that fans of the first movie are sure to enjoy.  The film certainly went over well with the Fantastic Fest audience members who applauded fervently as producer Jason Blum, writer Danny McBride, actresses Andi Matichak, and Jamie Lee Curtis took the stage following the screening.

Forty years after that nightmarish Halloween night in 1978, murderer Michael Myers (Nick Castle/James Jude Courtney) still lives, but under the high security of the Smith’s Grove psychiatric hospital.  Journalists Aaron Korey (Jefferson Hall) and Dana Haynes (Rhian Rees) attempt to interview the catatonic Myers by trying to elicit a response by presenting him with his infamous mask.  Though the reporters fail to get Myers to speak, something in him awakens and motivates the cold blooded killer to escape.  Meanwhile Laurie Strode lives isolated in a home bunker, armed and prepared to face Michael should he ever seek her out.  When she gets word that her attacker has escaped, Laurie rushes to warn her estranged daughter Karen (Judy Greer), her son-in-law Ray (Toby Huss), and her beloved granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) before it’s too late.  Skeptical at first, Laurie’s family members soon realize that Michael is coming for them when dead bodies start appearing in Haddonfield.

Halloween (2018) is finally the awesome sequel that fans of the first film truly deserve.  The filmmakers behind this movie obviously have much love and respect for the original film and other installments of the franchise and it shows with all of their callbacks, nods, and references.  Ther movie isn’t simply a nostalgia fest, though. Green and his writers take the development of their story and characters seriously by dealing with the  real life issues of psychological trauma and how it can lead to abusive parenting.  Though the film does tread some heavy themes, the filmmakers make the whole experience quite thrilling and entertaining.  I was rather impressed and amused with the superbly writren and executed humor that keeps the film from being too dark and depressing.

Jamie Lee Curtis also impresses with her reprisal of the beloved Laurie Strode character.  She brings an intensity to the older Laurie mixed with the haunting vulnerability of a psychological trauma victim.  I was also rather pleased with the acting of both Judy Greer and Andi Matichak who complete the multi-generational trio of Strode women, all with their own baggage from the events that deeply changed Laurie.  The movie also features great work by Will Patton, Toby Huss, Virginia Gardner, Haluk Bilginer, Jefferson Hall,  and Jibrail Nantambu.

The new Halloween movie opens in theaters on October 18 which should give fans and Halloween season celebrants plenty of time to get into the dark spirit of things before October 31.  The movie definitely put the Fantastic Fest attendees into the perfect mood for seven more days of horror flicks and other genre films.  Seeing Laurie Strode and Michael Myers face off one more time is also a great way to get people excited for a season of frights, tricks and treats.

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