Halloween ★★★★

Points for being the rare Carpenter flick that doesn’t fall into goofiness at one point or another (a feature to many, no doubt, but I usually prefer horror without a chintzy asterisk), which is actually still debatable, having forgotten Myers’s unmasking and the “ghost story” kill out of a need to preserve fond, youthful memories of the film. Lately I’ve grooved to people talking about how Carpenter puppeteers our eyeballs to all these corners of the frame like he’s Alain Resnais and shit, and I doubly appreciate the way he manages his lingering compositions for maximum stone-cold menace. But I think being immersed in Scream hurt my admiration (how to deal when Bob says, “I’ll be right back,” when he won’t be back), as that set the bar for the teens to be lively and garrulous (and detached from reality, per the video store effect), whereas these teens are cardboard. JLC, whose performance is often lauded but for whom I have zero attachment, is tasked with apprehensive glances and physical contortions, but aside from her interactions with the children - a demonstration of moral fiber, I suppose - nothing about her survival is qualitative. Which is to say that benchmarking the final girl concept doesn’t make her independently interesting imo, Laurie outlasting Michael because he plainly misses her with the knife, twice. Perhaps this is my issue at large - the kids don’t know they’re in danger, only Loomis and the audience really know the stakes, and Loomis is clearly on a frivolous path to intervention for most of the story. That lack of agency and intimacy with the audience makes the pleasures mostly primal, extolled for its minimalism but then also minimally involving aside from the pure thrill of vicarious stalking. The execution is impeccable for the genre, clearly, but I’m beginning to wonder if I really love the Carpenter’s I remember loving.

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