Halloween ★★½

I don't know that there's much point to me reviewing HALLOWEEN. Truthfully, I find the entire slasher genre, almost without exception, to be nothing more than empty and mean-spirited gore porn. I had hopes that David Gordon Green and his collaborators would find some new spin or nuance in John Carpenter's original that would justify this latest Hollywood legacy-quel, but I came away sorely disappointed.

The film starts promisingly enough by openly questioning what it is we love about slashers in general, and HALLOWEEN in particular. We are introduced first to Aaron Korey and Dana Haines, true-crime podcasters who seem to be fascinated by the very concept of Michael Myers--a killing machine that is only nominally human. They reflect the idea that slashers are just an outlet for our morbid curiosity. But then the movie reintroduces us to Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode. Ignoring the last 40 years of sequels, HALLOWEEN gives us a Laurie whose life has been completely destroyed by Michael Myers. Long after he was institutionalized and the bodies were buried, Laurie limped on as a broken shell of a human being. Driven mad by fear and trauma, Laurie became a survivalist, outfitting her home with guns and panic rooms and all manner of booby traps just in case Myers ever escaped. She passed that trauma on to her young daughter, who was ultimately taken away from her at 12 by child services. Only Laurie's teenage granddaughter, Alyson, seems to think there's a salvageable human being left inside. The devastating emotional reality of Laurie's experience in the first HALLOWEEN is a smart juxtaposition against the morbid voyeurism represented by the podcasters and, obviously, the audience.

But then HALLOWEEN just sort of throws it all away in order to become a bog standard slasher. Myers escapes, he kills a bunch of people (including a sweet 12 year old kid, for absolutely no thematic reason), and Laurie and her family relive the trauma all over again. To what end? The psychological realism undercuts any sense of fun you might get out of the thrills and kills; and the intense violence cheapens any notion that HALLOWEEN really cares at all about the horrifying implications of the story it's telling. Once again, Michael Myers leaves a trail of bodies in his wake and... so what? I honestly don't know. Now two more generations of the Strode clan can live broken lives? Okay.

Maybe some people are impressed at HALLOWEEN's half-assed "whoa, hey, let's remember murder... is bad!" hot take. But I'm not. The problem with occasionally cutting away from grisly murder to have a Very Serious Moment is that you eventually have to cut back. And then what?