Halloween 2018 movie review: The franchise that has been scaring audiences for forty years returns with a new team at the helm in David Gordon Green and co-writer Danny McBride. Halloween defined a genre – and spawned a ton of sequels over the years – and then a remake and a sequel to that remake – but in 2018 comes a direct sequel to the original – pretty much ignoring everything that initially followed it.

Halloween 2018 movie reviewHalloween 2018 movie review [TIFF]

Premiering at TIFF at just two sold-out screenings, which also included press and industry, the new Halloween brings back Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode, a character who has spent the last four decades living in exile in her hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois. We open to two British podcasters – played by Rhian Reesa and Jefferson Hall, who are visiting the institution where Michael Myers (a returning Nick Castle), the psycho killer from the first film, has been locked up since 1978. It’s the eve of Halloween – naturally – and Myers is about to be transported to a new facility many miles away. What are the chances, eh?

Here’s something that won’t come as a surprise to anyone – Myers does escape, but Green and co, are faced with a couple of issues. For example, he’s locked up, so how indeed does he make his escape – especially right before the big day – and secondly, how does he get his hands back on that iconic Shatner mask?

Across town, natives are getting ready for the festivities, including Laurie’s daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and her daughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), who have arranged a get together for earlier that evening. Allyson clearly wants her grandmother to attend, but Karen is more reserved, Laurie very much living a life of exile in a house cut off from the rest of the town, behind some pretty heavy-duty games, on the edge of town.

Related: Halloween (1978) review [FrightFest]

Things go south as night falls pretty quickly, and it’s not too long before Myers is wreaking his havoc on Haddonfield once again. There are many delicate nods to the first movie – a very cool opening credits sequence – which drew huge cheers here – followed by a nice little POV thing as Myers arrives into town, plus many other deliciously violent kills – many more than that first film.

There’s this kind of a replacement figure for Dr. Loomis, a nice little babysitter scene – with one of the most nonchalant, quick-talking kids you’ve ever seen, who delivers some truly funny one-liners, and a variety of other subtleties throwing back to the original which never feel forced.

There’s also an innate freshness to proceedings. Laurie is an absolute hard-nut, the most kick-ass grandmother ever seen on film, probably– a kind of Sarah Connor for the horror genre – and then her offspring lining up beside her – the apples clearly haven’t fallen far from the tree, we learn as the film approaches its gripping and rewarding finale.

Halloween unfortunately isn’t perfect – some of the story beats are slightly predictable, but it’s hard not to have a great time. Fans of the early movies will feel rewarded with this new installment, a perfect celebration of what’s come before. You walk away feeling absolutely contented, muttering to yourself ‘enough,’ in the hope that now we can now let this franchise rest for good. The new Halloween  is as good as we ever could have hoped for – a chilling, nostalgic and hugely enjoyable journey. Just bloody brilliant.

Halloween 2018 movie review by Paul Heath, September 2018.

Halloween (2018) was reviewed at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. Click here for all of our coverage.

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Halloween (2018)