It’s been forty years since the Babysitter Murders of Haddonfield, Illinois, forty years since Michael Myers escaped from Smith’s Grove Sanitarium to return to his hometown where as a child he had murdered his older sister Judith on Hallowe’en night, that bloody anniversary celebrated by another spree of violence and death until he was stopped by teenager Laurie Strode and the timely arrival of Doctor Sam Loomis.
Returned to Smith’s Grove, Myers has remained there for four decades during which he has not spoken a word yet he has remained a source of fascination to those such as investigative journalists and podcasters Aaron Korey and Dana Haines who have been granted access to Myers with the blessing of psychiatrist Doctor Ranbir Sartain, hoping that they might be able to elicit a reaction from him before he is transferred to another facility.
“Doctor Loomis was the only one to see him in the wild and his conclusion was he was pure evil,” Sartain says of his former colleague’s assessment of Myers; an acolyte devoted to Loomis’ words, to him Myers is a unique specimen who continues to frustrate him, the efforts of Korey and Haines more disturbing to the other patients than the subject of their misguided interest, yet beneath the surface, some primitive instinct is aware, waiting…
It’s been forty years since John Carpenter’s Halloween was released, a period in which it has been imitated and examined as much as Michael Myers, spinning off a dozen direct and semi-sequels and remakes, all of which can now be regarded as the frantic nightmares of Laurie Strode in the intervening years as, with Carpenter serving as executive producer and providing the soundtrack, director David Gordon Green sets the Shape free of his shackles one more time.
Jamie Lee Curtis returning to the role in which she made her acting debut, Strode is now almost a recluse living in a barred fortress, a twice-divorced recovering alcoholic survivalist estranged from her daughter Karen (Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s Judy Greer) though with a slightly closer relationship to her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak).
Haddonfield having changed little in the intervening years, too much of Green’s Halloween parallels Carpenter’s original, scenes of teenagers slowly walking the streets, a recognisable car passing in the background with the driver carefully out of focus as a crime scene is discussed in the foreground, many shots recreated exactly, squandering the opportunity to set this as a genuine sequel which aadvances and completes the story rather than another echo.
In this game, Laurie Strode is the wild card which is played a little too late, a survivor because she had to be, a ruin behind the mask of strength she has worn for forty years who is understandably impatient with the continued failings of law enforcement as she steps up to protect herself and her family, the victim Myers could never claim and who still refuses to go quietly, Curtis commanding the film in every one of her scenes.
Sadly, when she is offscreen the film is predictably conventional, Karen frustrating in her naive suburban middle-class insistence that everything is fine, Korey and Haines pompous in the theories they posit before interviewing the witnesses and helpless in the face of what they unleash, Allyson separated from her cellphone by childish behaviour at the high school dance, contrivances which disappoint anyone whose expectations have become more sophisticated after forty years.