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Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018 12:08 am

Tasteless Halloween leaves a bloody, bad taste

After deciding to resurrect the Halloween franchise, director David Gordon Green and writer Danny McBride expressed concern that they might embarrass themselves, that their efforts might not do justice to John Carpenter’s 1978 classic. Upon seeing their film -- imaginatively titled Halloween -- it’s obvious they weren’t using the original as a template for their effort, but all of the subpar sequels that followed it.

Ironically, you’re supposed to imagine that the seven sequels, as well as the Rob Zombie reboot and its follow-up, didn’t happen, as this 11th entry in the franchise picks up some 40 years after that fateful night in Haddonfield, Illinois, where Michael Myers went on his babysitter-killing rampage. The only survivor of that massacre, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), has been nursing an untreated case of PTSD for four decades and it’s hardly made for a healthy life. Living alone in the woods in a fortified compound, she’s taught herself how to be a crack-shot with a variety of firearms, has floodlights festooned around the property, and happens to have a concrete panic room below her kitchen. And yet … she doesn’t feel safe as she knows Michael will return to finish his handiwork one day. A transfer to a new facility and a very convenient bus accident allows just that to happen, and before you know it, Myers is cutting a bloody path towards Haddonfield to take care of unfinished business.


Halloween proves to be the most frustrating of movie exercises. There’s so much talent in front of and behind the camera that expectations can’t help but be high, and when they’re not realized, it’s all the more disappointing. Some of Green’s compositions are arresting and at times absolutely chilling in their implications. Our first look at Myers finds him in a recreational area made to look like a chess board, implying that his antics are all a game to him; the wrecked bus and its escapees wandering about in an eerie, hazy blue light. Myers stumbles upon a front porch with the American flag to his right and a myriad of innocent children prancing in front of him; all of these moments and a few others combine to create a stylized sense of dread that proves to be the film’s strong suit.


Unfortunately, it becomes obvious that Green and McBride really have no idea what made Carpenter’s film so unique. The original’s sense of restraint, its power of suggestion and the rules it adhered to are nowhere to be found in this gory exercise. The body count quickly hits double figures with far too many of the killings being random and without reason. Myers killed with intent and purpose -- albeit, a very skewed sense of intent and purpose -- in Carpenter’s film, suggesting that there was a bit of humanity driving him, that in some way he could be understood. Here he’s a void, simply an engine of chaos that kills to satisfy the filmmakers and audience’s bloodlust. When Myers kills a young boy early, on it’s obvious that Green and McBride have no firm understanding of Carpenter’s work, and the result is a tawdry piece of exploitation made to capitalize on the franchise’s history.


The requisite amount of stupidity needed to move these affairs along is on full display in the third act as smart characters suddenly become dumb as posts, allowing Myers to continue his rampage so that the film can reach an adequate running time. Curtis is very good in the iconic role, a worthy heroine for the #MeToo generation, yet she too is required to pull a bonehead move or two so that Myers can continue to stalk. By the time the slaughter came to an end, Halloween succeeded in doing nothing more than leave a bad taste in my mouth.


For a review of The Sisters Brothers, go to the Cinemascoping blog at http://illinoistimes.com.

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