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Why the new ‘Halloween’ is about as real as horror gets

According to Variety, the week preceding Halloween – in the US at least – is a dead zone so far as cinema screenings go. That is, there’s not much new content projected onto cinema screens across the US, save for a few timely horror releases.

Well, that dead zone has certainly been filled this week with one horror movie in particular, the most iconic of all Halloween releases, aptly titled, Halloween.

The new release ‘sequel’ of sorts to the 1978 classic flick has made an absolute killing in the US, earning almost US$78 million during its launch across 4,000 cinemas. That’s more than three times what Rob Zombie’s reboot of Halloween made – the franchise record previously held.

Internationally, Halloween has already generated over US$14 million and it is only being released in Australia tomorrow. That the film cost just $10 million to make must mean music to the ears of its makers.

But how does the film fare after all that hype and success? Very, very well, according to this huge fan of horror.

While the scares in Halloween aren’t as in-yer-face as, say, those that appeared in last year’s It, or even the supposedly more subtle (and subtly titled) A Quiet Place, the fear factor is certainly there. It’s probably because unlike some horrors, whose protagonists are fantastical and more the stuff of bad dreams than genuine nightmares, the evil in Halloween is very, very real.

Michael Myers could be a real-life serial killer. He has no supernatural powers – only a twisted mind that is set on killing for reasons obscure, if not unknown.

The new movie sees Myers escaping the shackles of a mental facility, during transit from a madhouse to a maximum security prison. That his escape happens to coincide with the 40th anniversary of his previous killing spree sends previous victim of his attacks, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), into an understandably vengeful mode. In fact, Strode has been waiting 40 years for Michael to escape, simply to kill him herself (whoops, spoiler alert, but you probably knew that, anyway).

Before the ultimate showdown between Myers and Strode, the killer has a bit of fun on Halloween night, blending in easily among the costumed street crowds as he slashes and kills one victim after another. While most of the murders seem random, there is a certain link to the original story, that is, that babysitters appear to be his prime target (Michael’s sister was babysitting him when he was six years old, and she became his first murder victim back in ’78).

The new ‘Halloween’ is clever not only in its scares being genuine but because it spreads its fear across three generations.

The new Halloween is clever not only in its scares being genuine but because it spreads its fear across three generations: Laurie Strode representing the baby boomers; her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) taking a stand for Gen-X-ers; and grand-daughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) pulling the punches on behalf of millennials. It’s a pattern we’re seeing more and more in horror, where all generations are being repped – from The Conjuring franchise to Hereditary – while seeing the old horror formula of “teens getting slashed” thrown out the proverbial window.

Don’t expect grand special FX in the new Halloween. But do expect the occasional scare move to the edge of your seat, possibly even to pee yourself a little. Horror doesn’t get ‘realer’ than this.  Antonino Tati

 

‘Halloween’ is in cinemas October 25, 2019.

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