Halloween ★★★½

Very simple but very solid. This seems like John Carpenter's attempt to take a project without a lot of depth and just direct the hell out of it to prove his talents, and he definitely succeeds. He keeps the anticipation and suspense levels high using clever cinematography and purposeful writing and acting, so even though the entire thing is tamer and more predictable than it was in 1978, the whole thing still feels really well-done and retains a feeling of quality that few of its imitators can boast. Everyone in this film seems kind of ridiculously naive today (except for the reasonably paranoid Dr. Loomis, of course), but viewed as a period piece it paints an unsettling picture of how safe people can think they are, when in reality suburbia offers less protection than they assume. The attitudes toward sex and virginity are stereotypical, but I didn't find any problematic implications here--Michael Myers is the personification of evil and has no morality, meaning the teenagers who he kills aren't receiving any kind of karmic punishment, and he also goes after the basically asexual Laurie, who happens to be the only one smart enough to possibly know how to subdue him. In pretty much every way, Halloween proves superior to most other entries in the slasher film genre it basically invented, which is impressive when you're watching it but a little sad to think about overall. This film's approach is both refreshingly simple and frustratingly limited, and I suspect it would feel pretty average today if not for Jamie Lee Curtis's natural and confident debut performance, and John Carpenter's judicious sense of composition and fresh perspective on film direction still holding up so well.

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