Homecoming: 'Halloween' sequel is a return to franchise's roots

Masked killer Michael Myers in "Halloween." Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode, who comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.{ }(Universal Pictures)

3.5 out of 5 stars
David Gordon Green
Writers: David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, Jeff Fradley, John Carpenter (characters), Debra Hill (characters)
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak
Genre: Horror
Rated: R for horror violence and bloody images, language, brief drug use and nudity

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) - Synopsis: It's been 40 years since Michael Myers terrorized the town of Haddonfield, Illinois.

For Laurie Strode, the lone victim survivor, it feels like yesterday.

Review: The uphill battle the Halloween franchise has faced over the course of the last 40 years is that the original film is remarkably good, even if you don't care for slasher films. It doesn't help that screenwriters have essentially ripped off the structure of John Carpenter and Debra Hill's narrative. It was never intended to be a template, but when you make a film for $300,000 that earns more than $70 million, then inevitably, you're going to find a lot of copycats.

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In fact, the subsequent sequels in the Halloween franchise, with the exception of the underrated "Halloween III" (the only film in the series not to be built around the Michael Myers character), struggled to find a sense of identity that brought something new to the story. That's not to say that there weren't a few bright moments along the way, but it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that 2018's "Halloween" essentially erases everything that took place following the first film.

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Set 40 years after the original events, this "Halloween" begins with a pair of podcast journalists visiting Myers at the Smith's Grove Sanitarium. It is revealed that Myers is soon to be moved to a different facility. This, being a horror film, should telegraph the film's next move. That said, "Halloween" doesn't fill in all the gaps. By the film's end, you will have a general idea of what might have happened. It is often what is not shown that makes it most effective. That goes for the gore as much as it does the narrative.

The script, written by director David Gordon Green with Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley, is just smart enough to get away with some of the faulty mechanics of the world. There are aspects of the story that aren't particularly plausible, but horror films are necessarily built on the same foundation that a historical drama would be. It's not important how Myers gets from one plot point to another. It is only important that he be there when the narrative requires it.

"Halloween" succeeds in the areas that matter most. It plays tribute to the original but doesn't copy it. You might know where things are headed, but the path it takes follows a path with a few genuine surprises. Its cast, which includes Jamie Lee Curtis reprising her role as Laurie Strode, Judy Greer as Strode's grown daughter and Andi Matichak as Strode's granddaughter, offers strong performances. Haluk Bilginer's Dr. Ranbir Sartain is a little campy, but his madness matches the world.

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The film does a fairly good job of giving a recap of the events from the first film that matter most, but I would still recommend watching the original before moving on to this sequel.

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There have been hundreds of terrible slasher films that have been produced in the last 40 years. Fortunately, "Halloween" (2018) isn't one of them.

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