jpark’s review published on Letterboxd:
Halloween is the cinematic manifestation of the holiday's exterior atmosphere. The communal celebration of all things scary and grim; recognized as the autumn season rolls around and a definitive ambiance of seclusion and homeliness emerges. The suburban setting here is so integral to the impact the film leaves; a penetrative feeling as this murderous phantom preys on these people's sense of security and trust. Evil thrust into a town of comfort. These people are asleep, walking through life confined within their enduring rituals, traditions and pleasures; high-school romance, babysitting, classic sci-fi comics and juvenile paranoia. Myer's intrusive presence in this town upends this, crudely waking them up by preying on the luxuries they are defined by. There's an eerie familiarity to this setting; a location realized so conventionally that we feel intimately connected to these characters; despite their relatively archetypal personalities.
Suspense informs Carpenter's effort more than gore; as Halloween functions entirely as a mood-piece, of sorts. The narrative, while compelling is relatively pedestrian in nature. The acting is fine, with the clear standout being Jamie Lee Curtis, and the odd, foreign outlier being Donald Pleasence with his theatrical performance. Halloween isn't even particularly scary. The thrills and suspense are derived entirely from a cultivated feeling of empathy towards the victims; the recognition of their plight and suffering. We observed them at their most peaceful, and to see their lives upended by such evil is unnerving.
Carpenter's direction and Cundey's cinematography are at peak form here, telling a story all their own. He understands the mechanics of classical suspense, drawing both equally and intelligently from legends like Hitchcock to evoke a sustained sense of dread. The score, boldly reverberating through much of the film is just as intrusive as the antagonist, penetrating through Carpenter's graceful and elegant atmosphere to startling effect. The film is without a doubt very conscious of it's own stylistic dexterity, but this doesn't completely bury the themes of sexual transgression and consequence despite that. It's a plea for the soul of the American teenager, a duplicitous case for both the comfort and assumed security of suburban life; and by extension adolescence. A cinematic love-letter to the aesthetical atmosphere of Halloween, and a masterwork in storytelling through style. Both a lullaby and slasher, Halloween almost breathes the same air as the best of the genre.
*one of the masks Myers wore was a painted facial mold of William Shatner, so there's that*