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'Halloween' movie review: Is the new sequel a trick, or a treat?

'Halloween' movie review: Is the new sequel a trick, or a treat?

Director David Gordon Green got his start with art-house dramas but is perhaps best known for the baked humor of "Pineapple Express." So it's apt that, despite plenty of gore, his version of "Halloween," the latest sequel to John Carpenter's 1978 ur-slasher, sometimes feels like a horror movie with a contact high.

But if rambling digressions can inspire unexpected connections that lead to a good joke, they also work against the tension required for an effective thriller.

Forty years after the events of the first film, the 11th title in the franchise proceeds as if all the other sequels never happened (although the second one's plot twist is alluded to as an urban legend). A pair of investigative journalists visit deranged killer Michael Myers in his maximum-security institution for the criminally insane. You'd think its inmates would be uns ettled by the red-and-white checkerboard prison yard, but this self-conscious art direction feels forced, and it leads the film away from the creepy naturalism that was Carpenter's strength.

Yet Myers isn't the only prisoner, as we see when the journalists meet Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, reprising her breakout role from the original “Halloween”) in the secluded woodland fortress that she has built for herself. Curtis effectively plays Laurie, who as a teenage babysitter survived Myers's homicidal rampage. Now, she's a grizzled survivor eaten alive by paranoia -- which she has unsuccessfully tried to instill in her daughter, Karen (Judy Greer), and granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak). But that paranoia may come in handy, thanks to a ludicrous plot point: Authorities have decided to transport Myers to a new facility -- on Oct. 31, of all days.

What could possibly go wrong?

The wanderin g screenplay, written by Green with Jeff Fradley and Danny McBride -- the latter of whom co-starred in “Pineapple Express” -- introduces throwaway characters that at times seem more intriguing than the main players. When a farmer and his young son are driving down a dark road, the boy can’t stop talking about his dream of becoming a dancer, aspirations that are shattered when they happen upon the scene of a bus accident that releases Michael Myers back into the world.

This entirely predictable incident loses steam when a pair of backup police officers arrive and get caught up in a discussion of banh mi sandwiches. This kind of lame comic relief makes it difficult for the movie to build any kind of tension.

Laurie's family tells her to forget the past and get on with her life. So it is ironic that the movie is such a nostalgia fest, with copious references to the first film, from the title font to the music (slightly updated by Carpenter himself) to a scene whe re Allyson glances outside her classroom window to see Laurie -- mirroring a shot from the 1978 film in which Laurie looks outside her classroom to see Myers.

Carpenter's original film is a masterpiece of horror that has inspired countless inferior retreads. This is far from the worst, but its return to the past feels more like a "Halloween"-themed party. And as a horror comedy, it's not scary enough - or funny enough.

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HALLOWEEN 2 stars, out of 5

Snapshot: Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her role as Laurie Strode in a 40-years-later direct sequel to the seminal 1978 horror classic that pretends all the other sequels didn’t happen -- and which sees crazed killer Michale Meyers once more loosed on the world.

What works: Die-hard fans of the original “Halloween” will enjoy the copious nostalgic elements built into director David Gordon Gree n’s film, from the title font to the theme music.

What doesn’t: The meandering script indulges in tangents and comedic riffs that sap the film of much of its tension. The result is a horror-comedy that is neither scary enough nor funny enough.

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner, Nick Castle. Director: Green. MPAA rating: R for horror violence and bloody images, language, brief drug use and nudity. Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes. When and where: Opens Friday (Oct. 19) at Canal Place, Chalmette Movies, Elmwood Palace, Clearview Palace, Hammond Palace, West Bank Palace, Covington Stadium 14, Covington Movie Tavern, Slidell Grand, Kenner Grand, LaPlace 5.

Reader reviews: What's your take on the 2018 'Halloween' sequel?Source: Google News Movie

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