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'Halloween': A not-so-terrifying yet still entertaining sequel

Nicholas Aditya Dharmadi
Nicholas Aditya Dharmadi

Loves everything film, literature and sometimes philosophy

Jakarta | Thu, October 25, 2018 | 12:28 pm

In this much anticipated sequel, director David Gordon Green has certainly crafted a box office hit, however as a horror movie it is hard to imagine that 2018's Halloween will stand up to the original. Nevertheless, it is a thrilling movie that manages to keep the audience drawn in by its unique take on the relationship between Myers and Laurie.

Halloween’s plot is similar to the original’s story: Infamous serial killer Michael Myers escapes during his transfer to a psychiatric facility, and on Halloween night begins his killing spree. Except now he hunts down the only victim to escape him 40 years ago: Laurie Strode.

If there is anything refreshing, it is the performance of the main cast. Reprising her breakout role as Laurie Strode, Jamie Lee Curtis brings new life to the now aged character, in an original take on the popular conception of the horror movie protagonist. She is joined by a cast including Judy Greer as Karen Strode, Laurie’s estranged daughter, who only wants a normal life, rejecting her mother’s survivalist upbringing. Andi Matichak stars as Allyson, Laurie’s granddaughter, intrigued -- as any teenager would be -- with her grandmother’s harrowing experience 40 years ago, much to the chagrin of Karen. This multi-generational dynamic between grandmother, mother and daughter helps to enhance their characters, amidst the rather basic plot.

Other members of the cast seem rather tacked on, including an eccentric psychiatrist, a grizzled policeman and the father of Allyson (who serves as rather ineffectual comic relief). There is also the inclusion of a slew of teenagers, seemingly obligatory for slashers.

And of course there is the true star of any slasher: The killer. 

As essential as it is for any horror to convey the inhuman element of its villain, the slasher genre has a unique challenge in presenting the limitations of its definitively human killer. The film does its best to toe the line between the two. 

Read also: Five places to celebrate Halloween in Jakarta

Throughout the film, Michael Myers is consistently indomitable, possessing both an invulnerability to pain and nearly superhuman strength. However, for a significant portion he goes unmasked, teasing the audience with glimpses of his face. The violence feels more real when you catch glimpses of the aged Michael, unshaven and balding, yet unstoppable as ever. The brutal efficiency with which he dispatches his victims is reminiscent of the plethora of media depicting serial killers, and the contrast with his mundane appearance makes it all the more disconcerting.

Additionally, he is vulnerable to decidedly human impulses, such as the compulsion to hunt down Laurie, the only victim to escape him. This is why Michael’s random killing spree may fail to immerse the audience. Many times his murders on Halloween night seem out of the way and unnecessary, uncharacteristic of the single-mindedness Michael has so far shown toward any who have spited him.   

There is also a refreshing competence to the protagonist, fitting for Laurie who has sacrificed family and friends preparing for Michael’s return. His inexplicable stealth is countered by Laurie’s stockpile of firearms, state-of-the-art security system and pure resilience. And where the incompetence of Michael’s victims is necessary to drive the plot forward, the audience’s suspension of disbelief is not broken, most of the time anyway.

Overall, the film is entertaining, although it might be more appropriate to call it a thriller rather than a horror. For all the gore, sometimes effectively visceral, sometimes gratuitous, there is a distinct lack of atmosphere unifying the movie. It leaves the audience feeling like they’ve just witnessed a violent spectacle rather than a truly terrifying experience.

This thoroughly thrilling reboot may have rescued an iconic horror film from the jaws of its innumerably bad sequels, but it is certainly not a timeless horror. (kes)

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Nicholas Aditya Dharmadi is a 17-year-old who loves everything film, literature and sometimes philosophy. He is an aspiring writer, actively learning and teaching creative writing, hoping to develop his own talent as well as that of the students in his school.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.

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