Each week, locals Cole Schneider and Matt Greene share their different takes on new movies out in area theaters. For podcasts and more, visit MovietownMovieClub.com

 

Cole: Cinematic flair is worth viewing

John Carpenter’s “Halloween” from 1978 is a stone-cold horror classic. Its music and visual aesthetics have become iconographic beyond just the slasher movie niche, and its simple, economic use of character and theme inspired numerous slasher franchises in the years afterward.

Many of the films inspired by “Halloween,” including its own sequels, were more interested in the idea of punishing the sexually promiscuous, but “Halloween” was interested in a more broad idea of loneliness. It suggests that Michael is motivated by loneliness and that Laurie’s loneliness provides her with the requisite awareness to survive. This 2018 “Halloween” from director David Gordon Green picks up after the original, ignoring all other sequels and takes after it in it’s pursuit of that shared loneliness that links Michael and Laurie.

The cinematic flair of Carpenter’s original is intact here too, with some brilliant widescreen tension using both foreground/background and light/dark tricks. One tracking shot goes through multiple homes, but unlike Carpenter, Green doesn’t use exclusively point-of-view shots; we even lose track of Michael to unsettling effect. A motion sensor sequence highlights Green’s editing ability as he builds tension in the dark as a means to the same catharsis.

The dialogue doesn’t have to carry the movie as Jamie Lee Curtis’ bitter, sorrowful eyes carry whatever the camera and editing don’t. Her trauma-induced loneliness has had 40 years to deepen, and Green finds many clever ways to remark on the parallels between her and Michael. When we finally see the movie’s final powerful shot, we know for sure of Michael’s sublime, infectious evil. Even with the movie’s over-reliance on its predecessor to do the heavy lifting, this “Halloween” is worth checking out.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

 

Matt: Sequel pales in comparison

Michael Myers is the glass ceiling-breaker of the modern slasher genre. Freddy, Jason, Ghostface, Chucky — these iconic figures owe their existence to John Carpenter’s 1978 classic. But where many of those monsters have grown into obscurity or dated camp, the unstoppable force of evil that is "Halloween’s" villain is as striking and haunting as it was 40 years ago. With this 2018 sequel, Myers' imposing shape and menace is on full display, even if the movie itself pales in comparison to its timeless predecessor.

Writer/director Green opted to ignore all 10 previous series entries, using only the original as a basis for his story. Myers has been institutionalized for 40 years, Lauri Strode is a doomsday prepper, and the town of Haddonfield looks back on that infamous Halloween night with fable-like disinterest — until, of course, Myers breaks out.

There’s a lot of OG "Halloween" mirroring, both ethereally (quiet, open space, slow movement) and exactly (balconies, closets, resurrecting, the musical score). However, where the film works best is in its creative terror, when the filmmakers aren’t so worried about honoring legacy and instead focus on screams.

But that legacy still casts a formidable shadow. When this one tries to recall the original, it works fine, but only in the way that great fan-fiction reminds us of what we already love; and when it breaks away
from its inheritance (especially answers provided in the previous sequels), it leaves questions that aren’t so much mysterious as they are frustrating. What’s Michael’s motivation? Why has Laurie not moved on even a tiny bit in 40 years?

Still, despite plot holes, lazy flashbacks and clunky exposition, "Halloween" 2018 provides enough October fun to warrant sitting among the Michael Myers collection.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars