Film Review: Halloween

This 'Halloween,' Jamie Lee Curtis steals the show.
Reviews
Major Releases

OG Scream Queen Laurie Strode is back in David Gordon Green’s Halloween. But she’s not alone. Oh, sure, there’s Michael Myers, the white-masked, sister-killing boogeyman who just won’t die. (Well, he’s died a couple of times, in various sequels, but he always comes back—and this latest entry into the Halloween franchise unceremoniously ignores all the original film’s sequels, so let’s do the same.)

This time around, it’s three generations of Strode women being menaced by Haddonfield, Illinois’ most famous murderer. There’s Laurie (the indomitable Jamie Lee Curtis), left traumatized by her encounter with Myers decades prior; daughter Karen (Judy Greer), estranged from Laurie due to some rather unconventional parenting tactics that involved a lot of gun training; and granddaughter Allyson, a character given less emotional depth than her two forebears but still acted capably by newcomer Andi Matichak.

Halloween’s emphasis on Final Girls instead of Final Girl is one of the things that sets it apart from the bevy of ’80s slashers from which it sprung. It’s a refreshing change from the traditional formula, seeing not just one but multiple well-rounded, capable women dealing with demons both real (Myers isn’t technically a supernatural presence, but he comes pretty damn close) and mental. The script’s emphasis on the trauma that’s echoed down through the years following that one Halloween night, just not in Laurie but in Karen and Allyson as well, is its most impressive element.

Jamie Lee Curtis steals the show here, Laurie’s strength and determination rendered more impressive, not less, by Curtis’ decision to play her as if she’s terrified to be confronted with the boogeyman from her past. No one-dimensional, stone-cold badass here—this version of Laurie Strode is among the most nuanced horror heroines presented onscreen over the last handful of years.

When Strode isn’t the focus of Halloween, things turn not bad so much as generic. As noted, the granddaughter isn’t much of a presence, and there’s a plotline about her boyfriend and one of their classmates that’s forgettable and more or less pointless, except that it introduces a few more people for Myers to menace. (And menace he does—even when Halloween isn’t breaking new ground, it’s still scary.) Curtis is almost too good here, managing to pull focus even when she’s not onscreen. (Never change, Jamie Lee.) Greer holds her own, and damn it’s good to see her being given something to do following a stretch where she was shunted into thankless supporting roles in a series of films (Jurassic World, Ant-Man, Tomorrowland—where she wasn’t even onscreen!) that didn’t take advantage of her talents.