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David Gordon Green puts his stamp on “Halloween” and crafts a terrific sequel

Horror sequels generally are not great, and that’s being charitable. Usually, they outright suck. So, it’s an absolute delight to see that David Gordon Green has defied the odds. Along with Danny McBride, Green has managed to honor the Halloween franchise, while also giving it a new spin. When Halloween hits theaters this week, it won’t just be another big hit for Jason Blum and Blumhouse, it’ll mark a rare cinematic achievement. Halloween, due in large part to Green and McBride, is one of the best horror sequels of all time. The competition may not be fierce, but it’s still high praise. This new version stands tall alongside the original, and that’s really saying something.

Set four decades after the events of the original Halloween, this follow up erases all of the sequels that came before it, which is an excellent call. Here, Michael Myers is locked up, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is a grandmother deeply traumatized by the killing spree she survived, having a fractured relationship with her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) to show for it. Our re-introduction to them comes through investigative journalists/podcasters Dana Haines (Rhian Rees) and Aaron Korey (Jefferson Hall). The two of them first meet with Michael, who is non responsive, then with Laurie, who wants very little to do with them. Then, while being moved to a new location, Michael escapes. With Halloween looming, he heads towards Haddonfield, not only to continue his murders, but also to finally take down Laurie. Little does he know, much as he’s been waiting for this moment, so has she. Green and McBride co-write with Jeff Fradley, while Green directs. Supporting players on hand here include Haluk Bilginer, Nick Castle, James Jude Courtney, Virginia Gardner, Toby Huss, Will Patton, Miles Robbins, Drew Scheid, and more. Michael Simmonds is behind the camera to provide the cinematography, while John Carpenter returns to the franchise he helped create, composing the score along with Cody Carpenter and Daniel A. Davies.

You have to give Green and McBride a lot of credit. Along with their co-write, they came up with a great take on the material. Then, Green gave it his usually top notch craftsmanship. Always an underrated director, he shows that when you give an auteur something like this, they can work wonders with it. Don’t sleep on Curtis either, as she has the sort of complex, lived in performance that the genre rarely gets. Considering how there’s a strong element of female empowerment running through this movie, it should come as no surprise that she shines. Once the film kicks into high gear, it grabs you and doesn’t let go. The creative forces here demonstrate a tremendous grasp of audience control and pacing. You’re with it every step of the way.

While it’s true that there aren’t a ton of strong horror sequels, there isn’t a complete dearth of them. Depending on how you quantify them, a list of good horror sequels might include Aliens, Bride of Frankenstein, Dawn of the Dead, The Devil’s Rejects, Evil Dead, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, and so on. I list those to make it clear that this Halloween is right there with them, give or take a few of those outright all time classics like Aliens, Bride of Frankenstein, and Dawn of the Dead. This may not be a classic just yet, but it’s as good a horror sequel as we’ve gotten.

Halloween, to pardon the pun, is a real treat. After decades of tricks (sorry again, but couldn’t resist), this is something to behold. Blumhouse will potentially have one of their biggest horror hits here, since they’re dealing with brand awareness like never before. Beyond the money factor, this is just a great flick. Curtis, Green, McBride, and company should be very proud. Barring one questionable twist, basically everything works. You’ll spend the entire running time with an elevated pulse. It’s fun, scary, and most of all, it’s smart. If you love quality horror, this effort will hit you in a damn near perfect way. Right now, it’s contending for a spot on my year end top ten list, so that sort of rave should mean a lot. This is a must see, and when can you say that about a studio horror sequel?

Be sure to check out Halloween, in theaters everywhere this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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