“Halloween” (2018)

Horror

images

Running Time: 105 minutes

Written by: David Gordon Green, Jeff Fradley and Danny McBride

Directed by: David Gordon Green

Featuring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak,Will Patton,Virginia Gardner, Nick Castle

Laurie Strode: Do you know that I prayed every night that he would escape?”

Hawkins: What the hell did you do that for?”

Laurie Strode: So I can kill him.”

Critical Commentary:

This week saw the release of the latest Blumhouse horror movie “Halloween” (2018), which was yet another box office success for the producers costing a miserly US$10 million, but generating almost US$100 million at the global box office, on its opening weekend alone, making this yet another example of how Jason Blum is ruling the horror genre as well as utilizing talents such as David Gordon Green and Danny McBride who are not known for the horror genre but have created a sequel in a franchise that was going absolutely nowhere for decades, not only that but they did the impossible, getting original creator John Carpenter on-board before the cameras had even rolled so that it was legitimized in audiences eyes. The other major coup was being able to bring Jamie Lee Curtis back, playing her age as well as proving she has some unfinished work with the”Halloween” franchise.

I have made the point before but the past ten years has been a bonanza for genre movies, especially horror, not only does there seem to be more being produced than ever before, especially with the advent of cheap film making equipment, more quality filmmakers entering the genre as well as more production companies realising there is money to be made, especially with the increase in online streaming services. This is where Jason Blum and his Blumhouse production company has entered the market finding a cost/revenue model that works for them, partnering with a major distribution partner in Universal and not limiting itself to theatrical projects, but also partnering with Netflix. In fact this year Blumhouse will have released eighteen movies over a variety of mediums their most ever, including their Oscar hopeful Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” (2018), a belter of a non genre film. What is even more impressive is that all the movies that they have released have made enough money to all be profitable which is something few other production companies is able to claim.

The beauty of this new instalment in the franchise is that it more less follows on from the original “Halloween” (1979) but set forty years later all the while acknowledging that those years have passed by, it also vey quickly dispels the idea that Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) was related to the killer, Michael, which negates much of the stories told in the subsequent sequels. Interestingly it actually appears that this movie would not have been produced without the ability to bring back original star Jamie Lee Curtis or having the approval of John Carpenter who also supplies some original music along with his son. What is interesting is that Carpenter has become more reconcilable as a musician than a director which is a stunning turn of events. Not only that it has taken the combined talents of David Gordon Green and Danny McBride to initially set up a vision for a sequel then to bring it all together to create a truly exceptional horror movie.

“Halloween” has been co-written by David Gordon Green and Danny McBride as well as directed by Green, it should come as no surprise then that they have made some drastic decisions in terms of the history of the “Halloween” franchise by publicly distancing themselves from all the movies that came after the original. Both of these filmmakers have a huge amount of experience in both micro budget as well as larger budget movies, they know how to work to not only a strict budget but a timetable as well – which is vital when working with Blumhouse. Both filmmakers have worked together for over two decades on a variety of projects so for them to team up on a horror movie seems obvious, but it is a testament to their skill that they had an idea to relaunch the franchise, bring in Blumhouse and create something very special that new fans will enjoy and old fans should be treated by, in fact they are taken back to a time when horror movies were not only original but surprising and enjoyable. Green as Director has kept with the style of Carpenters original even taking some key moments from that first movie, repeating them but with twists, this is the best example of a director not aping someone else’s work but paying homage to one of the greatest and most successful horror movies of all time, as well as a director who was more in the mould of a classic Hollywood director.

“Halloween” begins with true-crime podcasters Aaron Korey and Dana Haines who travel to Smith’s Grove Sanitarium to interview Michael Myers. Dr. Ranbir Sartain, who has been treating Michael since Loomis’ death, informs them that Michael is able to speak but chooses not to. Aaron fails to get Michael to speak, even after brandishing his mask. They then head over to Laurie’s house to interview her. She has spent the last forty years dealing with post-traumatic stress and preparing for Michael’s inevitable return. Her trauma has resulted in two failed marriages and losing custody of her daughter Karen, who went on to have her own daughter, Allyson.

Michael and other patients are loaded onto a bus transport, Dr. Sartain insists on accompanying Michael. Later, the bus crashes in a ditch, the security guards are killed, and the inmates scatter about the road, allowing Michael to escape. Laurie learns about the crash and breaks into Karen’s house to demonstrate her lack of security, causing an argument with Karen and her husband Ray. From here the movie becomes a cross between an intergenerational drama/horror that addresses many issues as well setting up a finale that pays off the promise of the first three quarters of the movie.

There is no doubt that the central and most important performance is that of Jamie Lee Curtis, in fact this movie probably would not be the great movie it is without her, the same could be said of the original as well. The other factor is that Curtis is such an underrated actress in terms of all her work it can be easy to forget that she was so young when she made the original so the key for her was to play her part in a realistic way, which she does. Curtis  is vulnerable as well as fierce which is not an easy place to be in a horror movie. The rest of the cast is made up of veteran character actors as well as new faces but they are all secondary to the story of Michael and Laurie who are two such dominant characters that when they are both absent from the screen the movie does lose momentum but thankfully that does not occur very often.

David Gordon Green has directed a very tight story wrapped up in a narrative that most will recognize, it follows a fairly simple hunter and hunted format that succeeds with some very practical kills that highlights how vulnerable people can be either in their homes, in public spaces as well as what should be private places, like the very visceral kills in a bathroom at a gas station. What cannot be underestimated is that much of this film takes place at night with lights off or the heavy use of shadows but as an audience it is always clear what is happening and specially where all characters are at all times.

“Halloween” succeeds on every level, it is an excellent part reboot of a franchise, it is a scary horror movie that does not rest on jump scares but in fact introduces some new element’s to the legend of both Michael Myers and Laurie Strode while eliminating one that tied the franchise down for years, not only that it was eliminated in one sentence. The movie has been a runaway success even after its first weekend so I am assuming that there will be some plan for a sequel especially when the budgets are so low. In fact it has to be said that everyone involved in this movie is not only top notch but executes at the very highest level delivering what is simply one of the best horror movies of the year. On another note it is a treat to know that John Carpenter one of the greatest and under appreciated directors of the past fifty years was involved in this, we can only hope that this will bring him out to direct another movie.

Technical Commentary:

Universal Studios Home Entertainment brings Halloween to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack . The dual-layered UHD66 disc sits comfortably opposite a Region Free, BD50 disc inside a black, eco-elite case with a lightly-embossed slipcover. At startup, the disc goes straight to a static screen with the usual options along the left side and music.

Video

“Halloween” arrives with an excellent HEVC H.265 encode, showing a few welcomed improvements but overall looking comparable to its Blu-ray counterpart. Shot entirely on the Arri Alexa camera system, capable of up to 3K resolutions, the up scaled transfer arrives with slightly sharper details. 

There are improved brightness levels, showering the 2.39:1 image with inkier, obsidian blacks, providing distinct gradational differences in the various shades. Given most of the movie takes place at night and during poorly-lit interiors, the action comes with strong visibility within the darker, silkier shadows, which is greatly appreciated during the final climactic battle. The 4K video also displays slightly better and stronger contrast, giving Michael Simmonds’s photography an energetic pop with crisper whites, but the jump isn’t as terribly significant as some of the best recent releases or compared to the HD version. 

Faithful to the filmmakers’ stylized cinematography, the color selection is somewhat limited and slightly restrained, placing more emphasis on yellow, earthy tones, which really come to life in the climactic clash at Laurie’s house. Browns are particularly diverse, ranging from tawny caramels and coffee mocha to sandy granola tans, and the yellow of various lamps bathe rooms with a warm dandelion glow. The orange and teal look is more apparent and dynamic in this HDR10 presentation versus its HD SDR counterpart.

Audio

“Halloween” comes with an excellent DTS:X soundtrack that brings the terror home, despite not comparing as strongly or aggressively as some of the best object-based options currently available. 

Without a doubt, the design’s greatest and most thrilling aspect is the franchise’s memorable score, which lightly bleeds into the front heights for a wholly satisfying and highly-engaging half-dome wall of sound while exhibiting crisp, sharp dynamics and acoustics with superb precision in the instrumentation.

Overall, the surrounds do most of the work, generating an amusingly enveloping soundfield that draws viewers into the terrifying rematch against The Shape. The low-end could perhaps be a bit more imposing, but it can be fairly commanding at times with a hearty, responsive oomph when action erupts on screen.

Special Features

The same set of supplements can be enjoyed on both the UHD and the accompanying BD.

Back in Haddonfield (HD, 6 min): An EPK-like piece on the making of the production with cast & crew interviews on the characters, the action and various other aspects.

The Legacy of Halloween (HD, 4 min): An amusing but all-too brief conversation between Jamie Lee Curtis, John Carpenter, David Gordon Green and Jason Blum on the original’s lasting impact and how this latest installment aspires to honor that.

The Sound of Fear (HD, 3 min): As implied by the title, the discussion is on the musical score with Carpenter, his son Cody and composer Daniel Davies.

The Original Scream Queen (HD, 3 min): With a few bits of praise from the cast & crew, the piece looks at Jamie Lee Curtis’s performance and her character’s evolution.

Journey of the Mask (HD, 3 min): A closer look at updating the iconic mask for this movie.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 13 min): Includes seven excised and extended sequences.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s