TIFF Film Review: ‘Halloween’ Revitalizes the Iconic Franchise with Jamie Lee Curtis In Tow

2018 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: David Gordon Green breathes new life into one of the horror genres most iconic characters Michael Myers with his bold and visually striking “Halloween.” Grabbing the Scream Queen herself Jamie Lee Curtis, who shows what owning a franchise means, Gordon Green pays homage to 1978 original while still taking risks to reinvent the franchise for a new generation of admirers.

“Halloween” takes place 40 years after the 1978 original film, omitting and retconning all the sequels, even the underrated “Halloween II.”  Michael Myers has spent the last 40 years in a mental institution after being captured after murdering five people on Halloween night.  Anticipating his return, Laurie Strode (Curtis), who is now a myth of her connection to Michael, has fearfully but courageously anticipated his return, to the detriment of her relationship with her daughter (played by Judy Greer) and granddaughter (played by newcomer Andi Matichak).  When being transferred to a new facility, Michael escapes and returns to Haddonfield to finish what he started.

Highly engaging and enjoyable, the film has a charming wit that hasn’t been portrayed in the genre before.  Jamie Lee Curtis, who for the record has been one of the most dependable and dynamic actresses in film history that we just do not praise enough, cleverly able to maneuver between genres, is just as good as she’s ever been as Laurie.  She exhibits a realistic evolution of Laurie, presenting her as a strong yet utterly brittle woman, that has sat at the edge of her seat every day for 40 years.  Her tenuous relationship with her family is magnified by the crippling expectation of her dark past reappearing.

John Carpenter’s score, partnered with Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies, is as electric as ever while the film’s esteem for its origins is detailed all throughout.  The audience eating up every beat and moment that hawks back was a delight to witness.  This is all layered with the apparent missteps that the story takes.  As we can expect from the horror genres, plot holes and underdeveloped characters are pretty standard and what has become an expected characteristic.  I would be willing and hopeful that the exploration of Michael in the hands of David Gordon Green could have a lasting impact on the franchise.

“Halloween” is fun, scary, and revitalizes the fall season with value and appreciation.

“Halloween” is distributed by Universal Pictures and opens in theaters on Oct. 19.

GRADE: (★)

Be sure to check out the Official Oscar Predictions Page to see where “HALLOWEEN” ranks among the contenders!

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Clayton Davis--prolific writer and autism awareness advocate of Puerto Rican and Black descent, known for his relentless passion, dedication, and unique aptitude. Over the course of a decade, he has been criticizing both film and television extensively. To date, he has been either featured or quoted in an array of prominent outlets, including but not limited to The New York Times, CNN.com, Variety, Deadline, Los Angeles Times, FOX 5, Bloomberg Television, AOL, Huffington Post, Bloomberg Radio, The Wrap, Slash Film, and the Hollywood Reporter. Growing up in the Bronx, Clayton’s avid interest in the movie world began the moment he first watched "Dead Poets Society” at just five years of age. While he struggled in English class all throughout grade school, he dived head first into writing, ultimately taking those insufficiencies and transforming them into ardent writings pertaining to all things film, television, and most importantly, the Academy Awards. In addition to crafting a collection of short stories that give a voice to films that haven’t made it to the silver screen, Clayton currently serves as the Founding Editor of AwardsCircuit.com. He also holds active voting membership at various esteemed organizations, such as the Broadcast Film Critics Association, Broadcast Television Journalists Association, African-American Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Online, Black Reel Awards, and International Press Academy. Furthermore, Clayton obtained his B.A. degree in American Studies and Communications.