Halloween ★★★½

Wiping out decades of continuity and reimagining in real time the four decades since John Carpenter's 1978 horror masterpiece of the same name, Halloween (2018) finds tension and pathos in the experiences of female trauma and resilience. Here, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has been changed by the events of the original film. She has left a trail of broken marriages behind and has instilled her hyper-awareness of danger into her daughter (Judy Greer), who is in turn attempting to raise her own teenage daughter (Andi Matichak) free of the paranoia that she grew up surrounded by. Three generations of women were defined by one experience of trauma, and with the return of Michael Myers they are forced to reckon with the ways they've been unwilling or unable to understand each other.

Myers himself is still a compelling presence here, a bewildering paradox of pure physicality and yet a seeming touch of the supernatural. He is recognizably human and spends a significant portion of the early half of the film without the mask, but even then he is always shot in such a way that we can't get a good close look at his face. We can't see what makes him 'like us.' Various people throughout the film make attempts to understand Michael and his motivations, but it's not really a spoiler to say they all end up dead. Laurie, like Loomis from the first film, doesn't care to understand him, only to stop him. And she has spent her life preparing for the inevitability of their reunion. Which is why it's kind of disappointing the way she seems to make most of the wrong choices during the film's climactic set piece, a Home Alone-for-grownups kind of scenario in which Laurie has all the tools at her disposal but seems to put herself readily in harm's way nonetheless. But how else are you going to recreate iconic scenes (with a twist) from the original film?

Michael feels slightly inconsistent with his prior self, murdering more people more indiscriminately, but he looks and acts similarly enough that the singular focus he and Laurie have on each other—someone says in the movie it's as if they need each other—makes the connection between the two films feel more tangible.

There are some ridiculous moments (and they're not even the callbacks or the jokes that come courtesy of co-writer Danny McBride), but Halloween's biggest problem is just that it's trying to do too much. When it remains focused on Laurie's family and their unwilling relationship to Michael Myers, that's when it works best. It's certainly the best of the series' sequels.