While paying homage to John Carpenter's 1978 seminal classic, David Gordon Green's Halloween successfully reignites a renewed interest to the horror franchise, picking up forty years later from the original and featuring an outstanding performance by Jamie Lee Curtis. Evil returns home on Blu-ray with a magnificent video presentation, a satisfying DTS:X soundtrack but a rather lackluster set of supplements. Nevertheless, the overall package is Recommended as a great addition to the horror library.
(We have also reviewed the 4K Ultra HD HERE.)
Not only is David Gordon Green's Halloween arguably the biggest surprise of the year, but it is further evidence that the two Rob Zombie remakes are complete, utter trash and should rightly be forgotten along with Rick Rosenthal's equally abysmal Resurrection, which starred the now-irrelevant Buster Rhymes. From a script Green co-wrote with Danny McBride (Pineapple Express, Alien: Covenant), there are times when the story almost seems to take very subtle, tongue-in-cheek jabs at Zombie's efforts, along with all seven sequels which preceded it. In fact, the scene with a pair of true-crime podcasters (Jefferson Hall and Rhian Rees) interviewing Laurie Strode (reigning "Scream Queen" Jamie Lee Curtis reprising the role that launched her career) practically serves no other purpose than to remind hardened, devoted fans of John Carpenter's 1978 horror original of where Zombie went wrong in his attempt to reimagine the dearly-beloved seminal classic.
While also serving as an exercise in how to properly make a sequel, Laurie — and the entire production as a whole, to be perfectly honest — makes it abundantly clear there is nothing to understand about Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney), the masked maniac who committed a murder spree in Haddonfield forty years earlier on Halloween night. This brings up an interesting point of why Carpenter's film continues to deliver the scares while the sequels and Zombie's take fail to live up to the original. A good horror movie should incite fear and suspense, and the best kind of fear is a fear of the unknown and the strange. What makes Michael a terrifying presence is the lack of motive, and the best even his psychiatrist Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer), much like his predecessor Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance), can do to explain the killer's rationale is to simply call him evil incarnate. To psychoanalyze or give him a supernatural cause is to ruin everything that makes Michael Myers scary.
Essentially, Green and McBride not only set out to make a worthy sequel but to retcon the narrative of the entire franchise, to remove the mythology established by three decades of sequels and return the series back to basics. In picking up forty years later to the day when Michael first terrorized the town of Haddonfield, the filmmakers also refocus our attention on Laurie, who, now suffering from PTSD, is still haunted by that night and continues to live in perpetual fear of Michael's return. The real beauty of this is seeing her as a fighter, a woman refusing to be a victim or allowing her condition to weaken her will, and Curtis is absolutely fantastic as this resourceful, steadfast and very well-prepared Laurie. When Michael inevitably and predictably escapes, threatening the lives of Laurie's daughter and granddaughter (Judy Greer and Andi Matichak), the film suddenly shifts into a quasi-western where our heroine decides to confront and hunt the monster rather than run away.
Green's Halloween isn't just another movie following in the recent trend of reboots or another entry to a tired, long-in-the-tooth franchise. By being a direct follow-up to Carpenter's original, the film is a revision of the whole series, a do-over that completely ignores the events of previous sequels. And somehow, it miraculously works. Granted, the Dr. Sartain subplot is questionable and frankly, takes away from the excellently paced apprehension. But as a whole, Green generates suspense and methodically builds the tension to a well-earned showdown between two horror icons while also sprinkling the story with subtle allusions honoring the movie that kickstarted the "slasher" craze of the 80s. Hearing the franchise's signature music playing in the background once again, which included the involvement of Carpenter, is enough to make loyal fans giddy with excitement, but the plot about a past trauma affecting three generations of women is what ultimately elevates this installment, successfully reigniting a renewed interest in the franchise.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Universal Studios Home Entertainment brings Halloween to Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack with a code for a Digital Copy. The Region Free, BD50 disc sits comfortably opposite a DVD-9, and both come inside a blue, eco-elite case with a glossy slipcover. After several skippable trailers, viewers are taken to a static menu with music.
Evil returns home with a terrifyingly magnificent 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode, showcasing razor-sharp lines in and around Laurie's eleventh-hour homestead. We can clearly make out each individual leaf in the trees, the grain in the weathered wood paneling, the tiniest bottle and random object decorating the background, and every scraggly, out of place hair of Laurie's tangled mop. As for the rest of the buildings in town, the lettering on windows and ads are very well-defined and always legible, and the gas station bathroom looks particularly rank and disgusting, showing the smallest grime, mold and disgusting smudge along the tile walls and floor. Facial complexions are highly revealing, exposing every pore, wrinkle and minor blemish of the cast while the iconic mask comes with a lifelike, aged texture to it.
Presented in its original 2.39:1 aspect ratio, the freshly-minted transfer displays spot-on contrast with crisp, pitch-perfect whites throughout. This gives Myer's outworn mask an oddly creepy pop against the dark, deeply-entrenched wrinkles while the various light fixtures add an ironically upbeat and bright atmosphere against the otherwise sinister blackness of the night. Speaking of, the video is awash in luxurious, silky blacks with excellent gradational detailing and superb visibility within the darkest, murkiest shadows, providing the image with appreciable dimensionality and a lovely cinematic feel. Meanwhile, the HD presentation appears faithful to Michael Simmonds's cinematography, boasting a colorfully vibrant palette that places more emphasis on the secondary earthy hues, such as oranges, yellows and browns to better reflect the Autumn weather. (Video Rating: 94/100)
Our traumatized heroine faces her fate outfitted with an excellent DTS:X soundtrack that brings the terror home, despite not comparing as strongly or aggressively as some of the best object-based options currently available.
Nevertheless, the extra breathing room delivers rich detailing and clarity, filling the entire soundstage with warmth and fidelity and generating a wonderfully engaging image with precise, well-prioritized vocals. Without a doubt, the design's greatest and most thrilling aspect is the franchise's memorable score, which lightly bleeds into the front heights for a wholly satisfying and highly-engaging half-dome wall of sound while exhibiting crisp, sharp dynamics and acoustics with superb precision in the instrumentation. Imaging continuously feels broad and expansive as a variety of noises in the background fluidly and effortlessly pan across the fronts and top heights, creating an outstanding sense of presence and space. On the whole, there isn't much else going on in the overheads except for a few very light and subtle atmospherics that nicely travel above the listening area. Overall, the surrounds do most of the work, generating an amusingly enveloping soundfield that draws viewers into the terrifying rematch against The Shape. The low-end could perhaps be a bit more imposing, but it can be fairly commanding at times with a hearty, responsive oomph when action erupts on screen. (Audio Rating: 84/100)
David Gordon Green's Halloween successfully reignites a renewed interest in a tired franchise by not only returning the series back to its roots but also retconning the mythos surrounding the iconic killing machine, Michael Myers. With Jamie Lee Curtis reprising the role that launched her career, the plot also breathes new life to the Laurie Strode character as a survivalist still battling the trauma of Halloween night forty years ago while paying homage to John Carpenter's 1978 seminal classic. Evil returns home on Blu-ray with a magnificent, near-reference HD presentation while featuring a very satisfying DTS:X soundtrack. Despite the lackluster set of supplements, the overall package is nonetheless recommended for fans who can proudly place it alongside the many editions of the original.