Long live Michael Myers, so maybe someone can finally kill him — in a big, funny, scary, squishy, super-meta sequel that brings it all back to John Carpenter’s iconic 1978 original.

Forget whatever you know, or should have wiped from your browser history, about the other franchise entries that came in between. Director David Gordon Green and co-writer Danny McBride have brushed them aside for the core story of lone survivor Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), now a fierce grandma with a gun and a long, long memory. She has a semi-estranged daughter (Judy Greer), and a granddaughter too (Andi Matichak). And she knows Michael (played by Nick Castle and James Courtney) is being transferred after 40 years to another mental health facility.

Strangely, things don’t go well in the transfer. Soon Michael is on the loose in Haddonfield, Illinois, on the anniversary of his Halloween-night rampage four decades before, and the body count starts piling up like so many churros on a taco cart. Green (All the Real Girls, Pineapple Express, Vice Principals), once an indie auteur and now a sort of genre journeyman, clearly loves his source material. He and McBride fill the script with comic riffs and referential winks to the original, even as the movie lets Michael slash, stomp, and impale his way through Haddonfield’s terrorized, poorly reflexed population.

The tropes are all here: teenage makeout sessions, frantic escapes through a dark wood, death by ax and steel-toe boot and bathroom stall. (Also the iconic score, the pumpkin-colored font of the credits, and a few original supporting characters.) In some ways, Green might even be too faithful; there’s no new Deadpool-y twist of fourth-wall breaking or this-is-why-he-cries back story.

Instead, the movie mostly works because it’s so fundamental, and funny too: Michael still never speaks; his mask and his slow, deadly, deliberate walk say everything they need to. At 59, Curtis seems to have fully arrived in her role as a midnight-madness queen, and she has a great time in jeans and a gray fright wig, swinging her shotgun around and screaming at everyone to get in the safe room.

By the end, she might even have finally gotten her guy — but true hate never really dies, as any good horror fan knows. And neither, if the box office is strong enough, do boogie men. B+

Halloween (2018)
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