31 Days of Hallowe’en 2018, Day 31: Halloween [2018]

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Last movie of 2018’s challenge! This took me a little longer to post, and this month’s punctuality has been patchy, but that’s down to a small cluster of health problems that have been vacuuming my time over the past year.

Dressed as a broken doll, I made my way up to London to meet a friend [same one as last year] to watch the new Halloween movie. I’d bought a ton of face paint and other random bits, only to realise that just highlighter, black eyeliner and white cream face paint make for some very convincing 3D broken patches. I had no qualms taking the train in my whole get-up as the make-up made me pale enough to fit in with the hereditarily aggressive conservatives of Southern Hampshire.

After a couple of early 3-star ‘meh’ reviews, I was relieved that movie turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Having only ever experienced Danny McBride as an aggressive hanger-on in This is the End, I had no idea he’d been hiding that writing talent. Same with director David Gordon Green, whose previous, slacker-coming-of-age/stoner work had neither been horror nor my type of genre. This direct sequel to John Carpenter‘s 1978 classic was released 40 years to the day, an anniversary that is referenced in the dialogue, and has many callbacks the original. It’s even co-scored by Carpenter’s son Cody. Much like the original Chucky series, it’s an affectionate nod to literally keeping it in the family.

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis – who else?) is living a life one would expect of someone whose brother killed her sister and has repeatedly tried to kill her: she’s alone, in a cabin that looks like she’s built herself, and has no desire for fruitless things like human company, crochet, or make-up. She spends her days gruffly refusing visitors to her remote, gated property and unloading round after round of practice bullets on a plethora of creepy mannequins.

She’s stoic, resourceful, steely, but has moments of anxiety. Curtis plays all of these with the deft skips you would expect, and makes for a refreshing, compelling lead. Capable, too, are her on-screen daughter Karen (Judy Greer, who has cornered the market in hyper-realist family roles) and Allyson (Andi Matichak). A sprinkling of smaller roles are also memorable, in particular Allyson’s friend Vicky (Runaway’s Virginia Gardner)’s scene-stealing, 9-year-old babysitting charge Julian (Jibrail Nantambu).

While it doesn’t reinvent the horror wheel, it rarely puts a foot wrong: pacing, direction, story, editing, music – even a couple of nods to ‘nice guy’ and other sexist tropes – all of it concocts a genuinely tense, old-school horror with new-school repeat-watchability. With enough leanings and semi-twists to keep it fresh, yet cozying up to the nostalgia of the original, this is a worthy sequel and a love letter both to and from the slasher subgenre.

Score: 🎃🎃🎃🎃

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