Fantastic Fest Film Scott Phillips' Film Reviews

Halloween: Fantastic Fest 2018 Film Review

Horror Sequel Gives Audiences Two For the Strode


On Halloween night in 1978, Michael Myers went on a killing spree in Haddonfield, Illinois.  Laurie Strode survived that night of terror and has spent forty years preparing for Michael’s return.  That’s the central conceit of this sequel: the other sequels never happened, not even 1981’s Halloween II in which Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasance reprised their roles from the original film. In this cinematic universe, Michael was captured after his rampage and has spent the better part of four decades behind bars.

Halloween 2018 is a study of trauma and its aftermath. Laurie has never lived a normal life since the events of 1978. Her home has been converted into one giant safe room.  She’s proficient with firearms from shooting up mannequins at her homemade gun range.  Her fear and pain have been channeled into survivalist training.  She’s alienated from her daughter (Judy Greer) who was removed from her home by Social Services when Laurie’s inner darkness became too much for her child to bear.  And that estrangement extends to Laurie’s granddaughter (Andi Matichak) who is around the age Laurie was when the 1978 incident occurred.

Laurie has spent forty years praying that Michael would escape from the mental institution in which he has been confined since his capture.  She wants closure of a very permanent kind.  She wants to kill him.  When Michael is being transferred to another facility, there is a bus crash.  He is free, and Laurie is going to find out if her brand of closure is as ill-advised as it sounds.

The film is a worthy sequel, perhaps the only worthy sequel, to the original.  This is no tongue-in-cheek slasher film.  The violence is intense. You can feel the fear and desperation of the victims who come across Michael’s merciless path.  There is a sense of loss when their struggles come to an end at the hands of the killer.  The high stakes feeling of the violence gives the film an intensity that’s been absent from this franchise since the original.

Halloween 2018 clips along like a finely-tuned watch.  It never drags.  Fans of the original film will enjoy the visual Easter Eggs and references built into this sequel.  Keep an eye out for an impressive “single take” that begins as Michael enters a carport to arm himself with a hammer and follows him without an edit as he weaves in and out of some Haddonfield homes and confronts a few of its residents.

Kudos go to the trio of David Gordon Green, Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley for a screenplay that pays homage to the 1978 classic while simultaneously forging its own path into new psychological territory.  Its depiction of Laurie’s victimhood resonates in this #MeToo world we live in.  Laurie survived a murder spree, but her reaction to the trauma she experienced is universal.

Whether it’s child molestation, date rape, sexual assault, or some other unimaginable ordeal that may have touched our personal lives, we see our own friends and family members in Laurie Strode.  She is frozen in time, forever incapable of moving forward to another phase of her life.  For forty years, it’s been “The Night He Came Home”.  And Halloween 2018 gives us the family reunion that we’ve been waiting for.

Halloween (2018) is out in theaters October 19th

4 comments on “Halloween: Fantastic Fest 2018 Film Review

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