Friday 2 November 2018

Halloween 40th Anniversary ★★★★★

“It was the boogeyman.”
“As a matter of fact… it was.”

Forty years later and Halloween is still relentless with its tension.
What stuck out to me the most upon revisiting is that all the events of the first act take place during the day. Michael persistently stalks Laurie; watching from afar, driving slowly, standing motionless behind bushes. All wide shots resulting in a lot of the frame not technically being left unused, but instead giving way to paranoia. Even when Myers isn’t directly on-screen it’s not unusual to assume he is… somewhere.

Scenes such as these would traditionally happen at night. Yet Halloween is so superbly crafted that the inherent unease of the dark is initially unnecessary in setting up a foundation of perpetual disquietude. However, when nightfall does envelope the final act, and Laurie is forced into darkness, the calculated escalation of creeping apprehension finally results in merciless terror. And I don’t use terror lightly. Despite its age, there is such a visceral rawness to Halloween that I believe it will remain universally scary forever.

This, I feel, is for two reasons: Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, and the depiction of Myers. Curtis plays Laurie with earnest; well-intentioned, but still a teenager. We like her, and we fear for her. And that emotional connection is key to fueling the tension because without it Halloween would be creepy, but not compelling. Myers, on the other hand… I can only speak for myself here, but I’ve never taken to him as a slasher icon. Not in the same way I could with Jason Vorhees, for example. His movements are unnatural, his breathing strained and perverse, his pursuit of murder unyielding. Myers’ presence is an uncomfortable one. As he smashes through the closet doors to reach Laurie, I’m not excited for a potential upcoming death, because I don’t want anything to happen to Laurie. No, I’m afraid.

Halloween, even after forty years, remains an unflinching exercise in tension and raw terror. What could have very easily been a trashy, exploitative affair - masked killer stabs babysitters - instead becomes a taught demonstration of the capability of man when the shackles of morality are nonexistent.

That is the film’s greatest strength; Michael Myers is pure evil without the pretence of an explanation. 

“A man wouldn’t do that.”
“This isn’t a man.”

Lewis Hill

Halloween 40th Anniversary at CeX

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