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Halloween is a fresh satisfying revisit of a horror franchise that kicked off much of the slasher film genre. Every facet of this movie is upgraded from the parody stuff that we saw in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s.

This is a soft reboot of the franchise that eliminates all movies from Halloween 2 onward. Laurie Strode is 40 years older and obsessed with killing The Shape. Meanwhile, serial killer Michael Myers is in prison rotting away and is about to be transported to his final resting place in a maximum security prison. When the transfer is botched all hell breaks loose and three generations of Strode women must deal with the consequences.

Director David Gordon Green, known for directing Pineapple Express, and episodes of Eastbound and Down, and Vice Principals, presents a surprisingly competent directorial effort here. Green is taking many cues from John Carpenter, which is never a bad idea. While he’s not breaking any barriers here, his shot selection, storytelling and actor direction is substantial.

Green joins Jeff Fradley and Danny Mcbride on writing shores. Yes, that Danny Mcbride. This team, which all-together is basically the creative team for McBride’s two HBO comedy series, turns in a tight script that is reverential to the original film but holds many twists and surprises. With Mcbride on the team, you might think that there’s a lot of humor, and there is some, but this film is largely played straight.

While I appreciate the original Halloween, my favorite John Carpenter movies are Escape From New YorkBig Trouble in Little China, and They Live. However, Carpenter lends a lot of gravitas to this film. He not only serves as executive producer but reprises his role as film composer. I felt his presence on this film in many ways.

Jamie Lee Curtis rarely gets the credit for how good she is, but she’s really compelling in the role of Laurie Strode. Whether she is vulnerable, or vicious, or wise, she is always electric in this film. You can see why she was anxious to assume this role again. It is very meaty and she rises to every occasion.

Laurie’s daughter, played by Judi Greer, and her granddaughter, played by Andi Matichak, are also great. Each of these roles is interesting and multifaceted. This movie would not have functioned properly without the quality work of these actors (or the quality character development by the writers, or the actor direction from Green).

What’s interesting about this Halloween is that they have really embraced this #metoo moment and flipped the script with three exceptionally strong female characters. All of these women have their flaws, they are certainly not Mary Sues, but they discover their strength through adversity. These women are not victims.

Yes, The Shape, or Michael Myers, is a presence throughout the film, and he’s as nasty and menacing as ever. But there are not many jump-scares here. If you like creepy horror or thrillers, then you’ll be happy. If you live for “gotcha” moments or want to be so nervous that you rip the stuffing out of your chair, then you might be disappointed.

The horror genre is going through a revival with The Conjuring series, ItGet Out, and A Quiet Place. Halloween has effectively reinserted itself into this new movement as a major player. It works well as a thriller and a character study, but it has timely social relevance too.

If you liked the original Halloween, enjoy quality horror films in general, or just want to see some women kick ass, then this film is more treat than trick.

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