Halloween ★★★★

I first saw Halloween probably around 12 years ago and was embarrassed that I didn't like it. It's such a codifier for certain slasher tropes and I'd already seen them all before. I respected it, but it felt just so old-fashioned.
Now as an older wiser man, I'm better able to appreciate the craft. From the opening slow zoom onto the jack-o-lantern as Carpenter's intense synth score intensifies, Halloween is a ride of tension. The camera is placed perfectly in nearly every shot, without betraying its tone as a down-and-dirty, low-budget work of brutal violence. Dean Cundey shoots the whole last half hour in such low light that it's shocking that the movie isn't ruined by graininess or incomprehensibility. Instead, the smatterings of light work to focus on the uncertainty. The stripes on Myers' face as he walks down a darkened staircase while moonlight projects through the banister. The closet assault which culminates in him hitting the lightbulb and illuminating Laurie Strode's claustrophobic hiding place. The subtle head tilt in silhouette as he admires the man he's pinned to the wall with a knife. The vague shape of him as he lurks in the background of several scenes. And everything prior to that in an orange, fallen leaves glow becomes all the more creepy by his presence. It's really effective stuff.
A lot of it is still a little under-baked. Loomis aimlessly wandering the town for 8+ hours starts to feel a bit comical. The fact that this barely feels like it's set on Halloween, to the point that when we see a jack-o-lantern on an end table in a family's master bedroom, feels a little lazy. Annie's awkward death in the car has a music cue that feels mistimed in today's fast-paced horror and seeing the light go out of her eyes comes off as goofy, not frightening. But most of these are nitpicks, I guess. Myers is a good villain (although I'm still not sure if the scene with the sheet over his head or the positioning of the gravestone on the bed works or not) and Curtis as Strode is an exceptional heroine.

Entry #34 of 2019's Hooptober Challenge
Country #1: US

Decade #8: 1970s

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