Halloween ★★★★

It’s so hard to review Halloween because the visceral experience is so filtered through 40-plus years of sequels, imitators, and life-size Michael Myers statues greeting you at Spirit Halloween.

When Michael sits up after apparently being defeated, it doesn’t really shock because we, in the 21st century, know that’s simply what slashers always do in slasher movies. To appreciate that and most of the other scares in this movie, you have to engage your intellectual brain, and imagine what it was like  in 1978 when theater audiences absolutely lost their minds.

For me the rewatchability of this movie doesn’t come from being emotionally invested in the plot or the slow-building action as much as enjoying the atmosphere and the filmmaking craft. This is one of a relative few horror movies that feels like autumn and feels like Halloween (a few painted loose leaves go a long way). I admire how effective and spooky the movie is within its low budget and how much suspense and eerieness is conveyed in the slower moments before anybody dies. The many shots of the killer at a distance or partially obscured are truly spooky— if you knew nothing about Halloween, when would you realize he was wearing a mask?

Watched with the audio commentary from John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis on my 35th anniversary Blu-ray, which made me appreciate the pacing and the scares a bit more. Jamie Lee Curtis has a huge passion for this film and also such a keen understanding of technique that I’m shocked she’s never directed a movie herself.

Chris liked this review