A showdown that loses impact when it got distracted from its cause.
10 films later, what do we have for the seasonal franchise? There’s nostalgia from the casting of former actors, and there’s also a certain sense of refresh with a younger cast introduction. But the final film sits uncomfortably on the fence as it struggles with its identity, even with a promising premise.
An epic clash of predator and former-victim always makes for good popcorn fodder. Especially when they are as iconic as Michael Myers and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). The film begins with the aged survivor honing her defensive skills while building an isolated fortress in the woods – presumably her way of coping with the trauma 40 years ago. Her neurotic ways have affected her relationship with her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) badly, who in turn has kept her own daughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) away from her own grandmother. This struggle sets up the conflict that essentially paves way for Laurie’s plans, as paranoid as they are.
While the main story works its way to a satisfying showdown, Halloween does get distracted by a lot of its own side arcs. There’s the investigative journalists at the start of the film who expire early in the show. Then there’s Allyson’s boyfriend who disappears as insignificantly as he appeared. And poor Hawkins (Will Patton). As a returning character, I had higher hopes for his role. Maybe consultant John Carpenter was worried for his franchise and decided to throw a little bit of everything in. Between the old and the new, the film can’t seem to fully land its blows sometimes. Sure, there’s some good self-effacing moments, like the liner from Allyson’s friend Dave who considers the body count not “that big a deal” considering today’s crimes. But for every Dave, there’s a Dr. Ranbir, who is laughably cheesy as the manic therapist.
Still, the film does have some great moments. The creative camerawork gives us some great tension and reveals, while a few walk-throughs serve up plenty of good ‘ol brutality. The technical aspects of cinematography and soundtrack help to keep the mood going. And Lee Curtis – she’s still got plenty of presence to keep attention from waning. But because there’s too many loose ends that feel stuffed into the plot for the sake of trope or a psychological spin, Halloween feels like it had a little too much candy – bloated.