la rogue’s review published on Letterboxd:
There's a scene in this film that plagued my mind at such a young age, for me it's up there with "here's Johnny!" And "I see dead people". Peeking through the eyes of a mask via first person, we witness a family being murdered before our eyes. Only for the scene to later cut to a reveal showing a young boy in a clown suit carrying a large butcher knife and holding a mask. This scene is one of the most of quintessential scenes in horror cinema. We the audience get to see the world through the eyes of an assailant/aggressor. But this assailant wasn't a man of machismo or a looney nut job like Norman Bates but instead a child. There's this innocence to the boy but if you look deeply into his eyes you see emptiness. From that moment alone younger me was instantly captivated but unsettled by Halloween (1978).
Halloween has become one of the most talked about, praised, and celebrated horror films ever made. There's no argument that I'm willing to hear that deems this as not one of the best horror films of all time. In my first year of film school I actually had a professor who was a horror junkie, and in that class we watched Alien and Halloween. When my professor described what makes Halloween so terrifying he used the word "anticipation". Because for much of the film you're waiting and waiting through endless dialogue and consistent shots of the phantom-like antagonist Michael Myers stalking his victims in a voyeuristic way, and yet never is there a moment where a genuine "scare" occurs. In fact, I've never in my life heard a person deem Halloween as "scary". Yet Halloween is still considered one of the greatest horror films ever. I believe what makes Halloween such a pivotal horror film is that it works as a masterful piece of cinema while also taking from the roots of horror mythology.
The technical aspects of Halloween are nothing short of exceptional. The film plays with lighting and positioning of shots persistently. Colors are dull and washed out making the film appear ghostly and ghoulish. It has this creepy ghost story look to it but it looks timeless. The score has become one of the most iconic parts of the film and rightfully so. The score for Halloween gets under your skin in a bone chilling and eerie manner. The dialogue is smart and the women of Halloween never feel underwritten for the genre, instead feeling like properly written women with a touch of femininity and realism. Halloween is just as much an exercise in filmmaking as it is a horrifying film experience. When I think of what makes this film so deeply unsettling I immediately think of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Frankenstein was a creepy and monstrous tale that pioneered gothic literature which would later go on to influence what we know today as horror. John Carpenter's Halloween makes me think of works by Edgar Allen Poe but in a post-modern world. Halloween is a film that relies on restraint, imagination, tone, and (as my old professor puts it) anticipation. Because on the most evil night of the year terror lurks at every corner, but in John Carpenter's horror masterpiece evil could be right behind you observing quietly waiting to strike.
PS I made a list of my favorite horror films for Halloween in case you guys missed it 🎃 --> boxd.it/276uY