Sunday, 20 October 2019

Halloween (2018)

David Gordon Green's series snubbing continuation of Halloween lacks the mythic, otherworldly sweep of John Carpenter's parent film. It's a fragment blown up to a feature, the basically brilliant idea of a hopelessly broken Laurie Strode taking on aspects of her massive, unkillable nemesis in order to beat him. Rather than build their entire script around a pitch that (admittedly) is better suited to an action movie follow-up, writers Green, Jeff Fradley and Danny McBride keep multiple victim wheels spinning, dedicating long passages of screen time to podcast journalists who (kind of, sort of) reawaken a torpid Michael Myers and a duplicitous psychiatric doctor who smuggles in slasher sequel notes that do nothing but take the shine off their central threat.

Surprisingly, this Halloween lacks the underlining sense of brooding, psychological disquiet Green and McBride routinely bring to their television projects. Perhaps Michael Myers is the issue? After all, the ignorance and mania that power Eastbound & Down, Vice Principals and The Righteous Gemstones rings superfluous when dealing with a tireless Shape. Rather than wriggle into Myers' head space and spend time with him as a character, this menace is simply observed, an out-of-focus object who exists on the frame's perimeter. As if to banish all memory of Rob Zombie's sympathetic take on the franchise, we are never allowed to connect to this Michael as anything other than a drifting force for violence.

Although a more aggressive sense of interior perspective might puncture the killer's boogeyman persona, there is at least precedent in Carpenter's original. The 1978 film gave us a taste of the alien, hammering its unsuspecting audience with long, floating, point-of-view sequences that positioned us inside the killer's head. We gazed out of his eyes. We heard his straining, whooping excitement when he murdered. Moments were burnt listening to his breathing normalise after a conquest. The otherness of the 1978 Michael was made all the more revolting by the ways in which his actions misunderstood basic human impulses - his was a nascent, adolescent sexuality focused around kitchen knives and young women he felt he couldn't otherwise possess. By comparison, this iteration is simply robotic.

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