Let’s talk about Halloween.

There have been a lot of slasher movies over the years, with the most iconic probably being Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street. But the template for these movies were put down by Halloween. A gaggle of scared teenagers, an unstoppable monster, a theme tune that will give you nightmares for weeks, it was all started here. Like a lot of the major slasher franchises though, too many sequels got made which watered it down and in my opinion, the repeated clichés have made the original worse. But now comes a reboot/sequel which is looking to get the series back to its roots.

This is a sequel to the original two Halloween movies. I’m presuming just the original, they never mention the time Michael Myers decided to murder everyone in a reality show so I think it’s been retconned. And what’s interesting about the movie is that it doesn’t just focus on the famous villain but also the famous victim. While both Friday the 13th and Nightmare On Elm Street have very famous villains, their victims never gained the same sort of infamy. Well Johnny Depp did but that was something else entirely. Lori Strode however did. So while this movie has the classic scares, the story is about the relationship that the two have. Admittedly it’s nothing original. It’s about how while the two obviously hate each other, they actually need each other because otherwise they have no purpose. Yep, Dark Knight style. But it’s an attempt to have some emotional depth which I do appreciate.

What I really like are the small scenes with the obvious victims that set up their character. These scenes are a short aside with some obvious fodder for Michael but there’s some real effort put into them. Early on, a father and son are off hunting and they are having a nice conversation how while the son enjoys hunting, he would rather go to his dance classes. The father is disappointed but understands. There’s another nice conversation between two police officers later on. Both of them are very nice conversations which make these characters feel real. Yes, they are just fodder for Michael in the end, even the kid, but it’s this sort of thing which makes the movie a bit scarier because you don’t want these likable people to be offed. The movie goes to great lengths to make you not want to see Michael kill people even though that’s the reason you bought the ticket.

The movie is very inconsistent though. Some scenes are good with solid acting and decent atmosphere. But then you’ll go to a scene which is absolutely terrible with wooden acting that you’d expect to see in one of the Halloween sequels. Judy Greer is the biggest victim of this. Sometimes she’s good, playing her role as a surburban housewife trying to get over an awful childhood very well. But then in the next scene she becomes incredibly wooden and one of the worst performances I’ve seen all year. It’s like some scenes had different directors or that they were pulled into reshoots that they just wanted to get done. It’s bizarre.

So what about the scares? Eh. They are alright. For all the effort the movie puts in, I can’t say I was ever too scared. The set ups are all very typical and bland. In one scene, a closet door is left slightly ajar with a child being scared of it. And yes there were some fake outs, also similarly predictable, but in the end Michael Myers comes out and kills some people. I can get that in some way, the people making the movie did not want to stray too far from how the scares were created in the original. After all, that’s why people are coming to see the movie. But they needed to come up with some different set pieces to try and scare us in a whole new way.

But that does not mean Halloween isn’t entertaining. It is. It may not be the scariest movie in the world, but you can definitely get a big bowl of popcorn and enjoy the odd jump scare and creepy atmosphere it can create. It is inconsistent and you can go from enjoying it to hating it in just a few minutes, but compared to some of the Halloween movies that have been made over the years, this is a wonderful surprise.

Former Head of Movies for Screen Critics. Film Reviews now hosted on Medium.