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"HALLOWEEN"
(2018) (Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer) (R)


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QUICK TAKE:
Horror: A woman, her family and their community must contend with the escape of a masked serial killer who terrorized her forty years ago and has resumed his killing spree.
PLOT:
It's been forty years since a masked killer terrorized Laurie Strode (JAMIE LEE CURTIS) during a killing spree in the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois. While that homicidal maniac, Michael Myers (JAMES JUDE COURTNEY), has been locked away for decades in a psychiatric facility -- now under the care and supervision of Dr. Sartain (HALUK BILGINER) -- Laurie has been preparing for what she believes is inevitable. And that's Michael somehow escaping and returning to finish the job.

That paranoia resulted in two failed marriages for Laurie and an estrangement from her daughter, Karen (JUDY GREER), who's married to Ray (TOBY HUSS) with whom she has a teenage daughter, Allyson (ANDI MATICHAK). The latter is preparing for a big Halloween party with her boyfriend, Cameron (DYLAN ARNOLD), and his best friend, Oscar (DREW SCHEID). None of them are initially aware, however, that while being transferred to a new facility, Michael has managed to escape and has begun his killing spree again.

That obviously gets the attention of sheriff's department officer Frank Hawkins (WILL PATTON) who was there on that fateful night forty years ago and is determined not to allow it to happen again. As is Laurie who's been preparing for this day for decades, from her fortified house to her array of weapons she intends to use to kill Michael.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
There's a scene fairly early in "Halloween" -- no, not the 1978 slasher flick helmed by John Carpenter that spawned sequels, a reboot (with its own sequel) and countless imitators, but instead a new sequel to the original -- where a minor character comments about the events of the first film from so long ago.

In short, he summarizes that those few murders that took place in Haddonfield, Illinois by the hands of William Shatner -- uh, a serial killer wearing a Shatner mask -- weren't really that big of a deal, especially in terms of today's modern horrors (and presumably referring to mass shootings).

While no number of murders (however "small") is acceptable, he is right in a cinematic way in that plenty of movie-based horrors have come along since the film was released 40 years ago, making it seem quite tame by today's standards.

To be transparent, I haven't seen the original in nearly that long of a time, but do recall it being scary back then, albeit as viewed through the eyes and mindset of a then 14-year-old. I have no idea how I'd rate that original pic now, or its various sequels, although I did see and review 2002's "Halloween: Resurrection" as well as the 2007 reboot and its sequel two years later (all of which were horrible).

Continuing in my transparency in relation to reviewing an offering like this, I have to say I've never been much of fan of most masked killer slasher flicks and prefer my horror of the supernatural variety. That includes John Carpenter's very own "The Fog" that I view as superior to the original "Halloween" in every way possible (although I likewise haven't seen that in decades).

That said, and upon hearing good things about this newest sequel -- that pretty much throws out the rest of the "Halloween" franchise offerings since '78 -- I was looking forward to being subjected to a good scare. Not to mention reports that the original film's protagonist -- played by a returning Jamie Lee Curtis -- was now going to be a kick-butt, take action heroine.

You know, something akin to watching Ripley do the same in "Aliens 2" where she transformed from victim to warrior, or Sarah Connor in "Terminator 2." In fact, this offering -- directed by David Gordon Green from a script he co-wrote with Danny McBride & Jeff Fradley -- has plenty of similarities to that latter film, including the protagonist being deemed crazy and paranoid for believing the character who previously tried to kill her was going to come back and thus she's prepared herself, including being heavily armed, to deal with the menace.

But "T2" got creative with its formula, turning the first film's villain into the unlikely and unexpected hero and introducing an even more formidable and creative antagonist, with a lot beyond just her survival riding on the outcome. Here, alas, it's just more of the same old, same old slasher nonsense, and while fans of that might be in blood and gore heaven, anyone expecting a great or even decent horror film is going to be disappointed.

The story begins when two British podcasters go to witness firsthand the killer while he's chained to the ground in a psychiatric hospital's courtyard. His personal psychiatrist (Haluk Bilginer) warns them not to enter the taped-off square area in which he stoically stands, but is intrigued to see what happens when the man pulls out Michael's old Shatner mask and yells at him to react. You know, because they allow internet "journalists" to borrow such murder spree evidence from the local authorities and then attempt to agitate the killer standing amongst a bunch of other similar patients.

When that doesn't work, they go to agitate his lone survivor from the past (Curtis) who they then explain -- as if she doesn't already know -- that the trauma and her behavior after that thwarted two marriages and left her adult daughter (Judy Greer) and granddaughter (Andi Matichak) estranged from her. After they leave, we see the teen interacting with some friends who will, natch, ultimately be offed once the killer, double natch, escapes and then retrieves, triple natch, his old mask, and quadruple natch, starts killing again, starting with those two pesky reporters and some bystanders thrown in for good measure.

What follows is just more of the same, with a few fanboy (and girl) nods to the original (and brief use of the uber simple yet effectively creepy piano score from that), but not much more. That is beyond a higher body count with grislier and gorier deaths. The worst part, however, is none of that's remotely scary or possesses any sort of real suspense. It also doesn't help that the script has implausibilities (Michael somehow finding the reporters who've conveniently left the trunk open so he can grab his mask, etc.) and people doing stupid things.

That's especially true in regard to our main protagonist who's had forty years to prepare and has fortified her house, heavily weaponized herself, and put enough lights on the outside to illuminate a small stadium. But once Michael shows up, she slowly walks through her place like there's been a power outage (there hasn't, but that easily could have been inserted into the script) and approaches suspicious closets rather than simply blasting the heck out of them and the killer should he be lurking inside. All of that and more shows zero effort in doing something interesting or creative with these moments rather than simply going through the usual, worn-out and predictable tropes.

If you have a hankering for a serial killer flick, go back and watch "The Silence of the Lambs" that has more depth in its first few minutes than this or all of the "Halloween" films combined. And if you want to watch a female empowerment flick where a former villain turns into a well-armed warrior to deal with her former tormentor, check out the aforementioned "Aliens" and "Terminator 2" offerings. Bland and instantly forgettable into the flotsam consisting of most of the rest of the flicks in this franchise, this latest sequel rates as a very generous 4 out of 10.




Reviewed October 16, 2018 / Posted October 19, 2018


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