4K Ultra HD Edition
Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy
Greer, Andi Matichak, Haluk Bilginer
Director: David Gordon Green
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.4:1
Features: See Review
Length: 106 Minutes
Release Date: January 15, 2019
“Happy Halloween, Michael.”
The original Halloween was a bona fide horror classic, and for the longest time, the highest grossing independent feature of all time. It was made with very little money but a whole lot of talent in young director John Carpenter, co-writer and producer Debra Hill, and a young starlet making her screen debut in Jamie Lee Curtis.
It's also a film that spawned countless imitators, some under the same banner, others trying to replicate the original formula and rarely succeeding. It was definitely a case of too much, and always a threat to water down what made the first movie so indelible.
Flash forward 40 years, and someone finally managed to craft a film that felt true to the spirit of the original, in many ways. Director David Gordon Green, making his first horror feature, decided to forgo all of the substandard sequels and give us a story connecting directly to that first picture from 1978. In other words, if you've seen all the other entries in the series, forget about them.
When we last saw Michael Meyers in the original, he had vanished; this story tells us he was recaptured and held throughout the decades. Dr. Sam Loomis is long gone, but his protege Dr. Sartain has become Michael's caretaker, always hoping to prompt one word from the silent predator.
On the other side of the page is Laurie Strode (Curtis), who was Michael's would-be victim 40 years ago. The traumatic experience has defined her life since then; she's always known one day Michael would return, and has spent her entire adult life preparing for that moment. Laurie has become part Sarah Connor, learning to defend herself and her home and training her daughter (Greer) and granddaughter (Matichak) to be fighters, but Laurie's designs have all but ruined her family over the years...in fact, her daughter was even taken away from her at a young age because of Laurie's fanatical...well, I'd say “paranoia”, but it's not paranoia if the threat is real. The problem is, no one believes it but Laurie.
Of course, the confrontation is inevitable...Michael escapes, returns to Haddonfield, Illinois, and begins a new reign of terror on Halloween, 2018. And of course, Laurie and her family become targets. This is the showdown we've waited 40 years for...how will it end?
I don't want to delve much into plot, but what I MOST want to talk about is how this film really is the first entry in the series to really get close to the feel of John Carpenter's original masterpiece. Everything from the color schemes to the graphics on screen, from the pacing to the editing, make this feel like a genuine continuation to the story and a tribute to, rather than a hack imitation of, the work of Carpenter. There is even one remarkable long camera shot at Michael's return that pays homage to Carpenter's legendary opening sequence in his own film. It's done with absolute skill and taste.
Kudos also to Jamie Lee Curtis, who went on to become a huge star after her horror film debut, but has never shied away from the role that put her on the map. Her presence here is more than just a shout-out to fans; it's the real center and heart of this picture. She manages to show Laurie as both strong and bad-@$$ while also deeply wounded and vulnerable at the same time. She is a perfect, heightened representation of the strengths and weaknesses in us all.
So, the big question...is this finally it? Have we closed the book on Halloween once and for all now that we finally have a film that directly brings it all full circle? According to Ms. Curtis, this is truly the end. But Michael, like Jason and Freddy, is like a video game character...he dies, but only stays dead until someone puts in the next quarters.
Time will tell. But I will say if this new Halloween is the once and for all final chapter, it ended on a terrific note...maybe the best note possible.
The look of the film and this 4K presentation is quite serviceable; ironically, because it duplicates the look, feel and color schemes of the original 1978 movie, I can't quite give it a higher rating. But this is not the fault of the disc; it's a deliberate look that works well...I don't think I'd trade what David Gordon Green did here just to have sharper, more detailed looking images.
The uncompressed audio works well; the return of Carpenter's famous music is a nice touch, and everything is well-balanced, from dialogue to effects to music. There's not much use of the surround channels and dynamic range isn't quite as strong as you might hope, but still, a solid listening experience.
The extras include 7 deleted or extended scenes, plus 5 short production featurettes.
Halloween all but erases 40 years of substandard sequels and imitations, and brings John Carpenter's original story to its fruitful conclusion (maybe). David Gordon Green's film is more than just a true sequel (which it is)...it's an absolute tribute to John Carpenter and his small, low-budget film that has authored so many nightmares over the years.