Even before Michael Myers starts with the stabbing and the bashing and the strangling and the hammering and the stomping, “Halloween” is one ruthlessly efficient killer of a movie — and I’m grateful for that.
Director and co-writer David Gordon Green’s bloody good splatter film is a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 horror classic, picking up the story some 40 years after the events of that film.
That means they’ve killed off “Halloween II” and “Halloween III: Season of the Witch” and “Halloween H20” et al., pretty much wiping the slate clean, so here’s all you really need to know:
Four decades after the masked boogeyman Michael Myers killed three people in the town of Haddonfield, Illinois, on the night of Oct. 31, survivor Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, yes!) is now a tightly wound, wild-eyed grandma, obsessed with the imprisoned Myers and convinced he will one day escape and track her down and try to finish the job.
Come on, Laurie, give it up. You’re talking crazy. It’s not like the sixtysomething Michael Myers is really going to break out and somehow track her down in the dead of night — or is he?
Laurie lives in a remote house deep in the woods — a house equipped with multiple security cameras, floodlights, a panic room hidden beneath the kitchen and a number of booby traps. She also has enough firepower to arm a small militia. If and when Michael comes for her, she’ll be ready!
Her fixation on Myers led to the breakup of two marriages, and also caused Laurie to lose custody of her daughter Karen (played by Judy Greer as a grown-up) when Karen was just 12. These days, Karen spends very little time with her increasingly paranoid and delusional mother, but Laurie remains close with Karen’s teenage daughter, the plucky Allyson (Andi Matichak).
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In a particularly ill-conceived — some might even say idiotic — plan, authorities decide it’s a good idea to take Michael out of the facility that has kept him in check for 40 years and put him on a bus with a bunch of other mentally ill prisoners on Halloween night.
And just like that, Michael Myers is once again on the loose in Haddonfield, methodically killing random strangers in a number of creatively gory ways. (First, of course, he has to retrieve his mask, which just happens to be — well, I won’t give it away other than to tip my cap to the screenwriters for the clever set-up.)
Haluk Bilginer is the creepy Dr. Sartain, who is in charge of Michael’s care and is fascinated by (and maybe even overly fond of) his subject. (When Laurie meets Dr. Sartain, she says, “So you’re the new Loomis,” referencing the late great Donald Pleasance’s character from the original.)
Like most of the cops and many of the civilians — from a couple of earnest podcasters to, yes, a babysitter, to a number of Haddonfield locals — Dr. Sartain makes some really bad and dumb choices, but that’s what we expect of supporting players in a slasher movie, right? We’re supposed to be calling them out for opening a closet door or leaning too close to a seemingly dead adversary or calling out “Who’s there?” while walking toward the danger instead of running away like a cartoon character.
The ubiquitous Judy Greer is strong as Laurie’s daughter. Veteran character actor Will Patton is a welcome presence as the only Haddonfield cop who remembers the Babysitter Murders.
Nick Castle (the original Michael Myers) delivers chills as the masked killing machine, even though we never see his face.
And Jamie Lee Curtis is badass terrific as Laurie, who lived through those horrific events all those years ago but was robbed of having a real life.
We also get some choice callbacks to the original film, including one sequence so obvious (and yet so fantastically satisfying) we’d be surprised if they hadn’t figured out a way to make it happen.
Director Green isn’t trying to reinvent the squeal. “Halloween,” the 2018 version, is the B-movie sequel “Halloween,” the 1978 version, has always deserved.
Universal Pictures presents a film directed by David Gordon Green and written by Jeff Fradley, Danny McBride and David Gordon Green. Rated R (for horror violence and bloody images, language, brief drug use and nudity). Running time: 106 minutes. Opens Friday at local theaters.