Written by: Jeff Fradley, Danny McBride, David Gordon Green
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Haluk Bilginer, Virginia Gardner
Trying to manage someone’s trauma should not be encouraged, even with the best intentions. It can do more damage than harm, especially in the event where it ends up downplaying what occurred to that person in said traumatic event. An intriguing turn done with the girl who survived the initial attacks by the man in the white mask. It makes Halloween a refreshing return to Haddonfield with much more brutality.
40 years since the first attack, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) remains adamant that her dealings with Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney) are not over, which has pushed away her daughter and granddaughter who believe Laurie should move on with life. When on transit to be sent to a facility for life, Michael escapes and makes his way to Haddonfield once again.
With different timelines of the Halloween franchise, I would not blame anyone for having any confusion about where this relates to the several others released. To make things easy, this installment serves as a direct follow-up to what occurred in the 1978 classic and it does a marvelous job not only delivering the kills that could be conjured with today’s filmmaking but also good character development for Laurie Strode. This ultimately defines what makes this a worthy sequel as they care about the character we came to love in the first feature, and she receives justice in this follow-up.
The film opens with two true crime podcasters trying to get the truth out of what occurred in Michael’s original killings 40 years ago and with it they become one of the first victims of the killer’s return to Haddonfield. Was it a bit fun to watch them get killed Michael because I personally hate the exploitative nature of true crime podcasts? Yes, but I have a feeling, co-writers Jeff Fradley, Danny McBride, and David Gordon Green felt the same way in showing the brutal deaths they receive. This sets up the time between what previously occurred and then it shifts to Laurie.
Shaken, stirred, and antisocial, in this feature we see a much different Laurie Strode from the innocent individual 40 years ago. Now, she has an armored house ready for whenever Michael inevitably will escape. Everyone called her mad for believing it would happen again, but the film seems to vindicate her fairly resoundingly. With this performance, Jamie Lee Curtis takes a step up in displaying the trauma still lingering on her mind. Pretty much a recluse with an implied history of consuming too much alcohol, we get a glimpse of the mental hell she has been living in since that day. Barely recognizable and rightfully so from what this character encountered, Curtis wears that feeling right on the surface. It sells everything so well, which makes the return of the boogeyman essentially a matchup for the ages.
This idea of a duel adds more intrigue to this sequel, because before Laurie simply tried to evade Michael during his warpath, but now she has been preparing and it feels much more like a 1-on-1 battle than a teenager just trying to survive. Her abilities cannot be doubted as it shows all of the training she did for herself and her daughter in order to be prepared to the point where it harmed the relationship. However, it all leads to this particular night and once it gets reached, it makes for one heck of a fireworks show.
Killings in this feature get very graphic as it shows Michael has not gotten any weaker even with 40 more years on his bones. It continues the mystique of this figure being more than human, as would be expected with the amount of times he has survived imminent death. From dropping a set of teeth he bashed and jamming someone’s face into machinery, things get very violent with this character and it certainly adds the thrilling element of what many appreciate about the slasher sub-genre. However, the character work in this feature gained my appreciation more.
With the trauma stemming from Laurie’s experience, the look of three generations of Strode women taking on Michael in this feature felt special. Laurie dealt with the first encounter and now with the boogeyman’s return, it becomes time for the daughter and granddaughter to step up in their own way. Each of their contributions add some dumb character decisions, which you just have to roll your eyes at but they also bring in cheer-inducing moments when they unite. It felt so great to see Judy Greer get a prominent role here and she definitely did not squander the opportunity given to her.
Coming back to Haddonfield again with this installment of Halloween did more than just entertain. It thoughtfully tracked the trauma a woman like Laurie experienced all of those years ago and how it impacts not only her but also the other generation of women in her family. All of the build up leads to Halloween night where Laurie decides she will hunt down the monster who has tormented her thoughts every single day following the incident 40 years ago. It makes for such a satisfying entry and one with wonderful callbacks to the tremendous film that started it all.