'Halloween' is a dumbing-down of the genre [Review]

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Director David Gordon Green has built up an eclectic filmography since "George Washington," his visionary 2000 debut.  There's Green, the artist ("George Washington," "All the Real Girls," "Snow Angels," "Undertow," "Prince Avalanche"), Green, the cult comedy filmmaker ("Pineapple Express," "The Sitter," "Your Highness") and Green, the Oscar-bait deliverer ("Stronger," "Our Brand is Crisis").

We can now add David Gordon Green the horror movie director to that ever-expanding filmography. "Halloween," his sequel to the similarly-titled 1978 classic (as if the other six sequels never existed), feels like an '80s/'90s slasher flick... and that's not a good thing. 

You know the usual tropes that come with the 'slasher'; A killer in a mask, a group of horny, not-so-bright high school kids, a secluded setting,  gallons upon gallons of blood. The exploitative, the shock-factor if you will, eventually numbed us to its effects, but the landmarks are still an essential part of movie history: 
"Peeping Tom," "Psycho," "Halloween," "A Nightmare on Elm Street," "Black Christmas" and "Texas Chainsaw Massacre." The cream of the crop. Forget about the fact that Wes Craven all but mocked the slasher genre into oblivion in 1996 with "Scream." Green and screenwriter Danny McBride (yes the comedic actor), have decided to go back to the good old nostalgic days, to when movies like "Candyman," "I Know What You Did Last Summer" "Sleepaway Camp," and "Prom Night" were castigated by critics but audiences couldn't get enough of them, until that same audience realized just how godawful those retreads were. 

Since '80s nostalgia has become a legitimate thing over the past few years, Green and McBride are banking on it to re-energize the "Halloween" franchise, which has been D.O.A for the last three decades. I would tamper those expectations down to a tee. Despite Green being the most talented filmmaker to helm a movie in the franchise since John Carpenter directed the original more than 40 years ago, this latest Halloween has the same predictable beats that you would expect from a token 'slasher' flick. 

For all the hype surrounding it, projections have it nabbing a $50M opening weekend, so I ask a simple question: What makes this latest film any different from the last six? Not that much if you ask me. Maybe a tiny dab here and there of meta-comedy, something that 1998's "Halloween H20" seemed to also have, but otherwise, Jamie Lee Curtis' return to the franchise falls flat. Her iconic character Laurie, the former babysitter who is still haunted by Michael Myers' killing spree more than forty years later, has been living with an obsession that Myers would eventually escape the insane asylum he's been locked up in and kill her. 

Laurie is estranged from her now-adult daughter Karen (Judy Greer), who has limited her contact with granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak).  Focusing part of his film on Allyson and her high school friends, Green entraps himself in the stereotypical clichés of teenage horn-dogs and jocks who, we know all-too-well, are destined to be future victims of the sharp end of Myers' infamous kitchen steak knife. All things eventually lead to the Strode women taking on Michael at Laurie's cabin in the woods in a film that, more or less, follows the influential blueprint that Caprenter laid down for all the copycats to follow. 

The last decade has been incredible for horror movies. There's been a resurgence of the genre and a straying away from the slasher mentality which all but killed it after the '80s and '90s. The great movies we've been getting ("Get Out," "A Quiet Place," "The Witch," etc.) have been directed by filmmakers who know their horror, and have a head filled with encyclopedic knowledge of the genre's roots. These are directors who are allergic to clichés. They are influenced by Carpenter's work ("Halloween," "Assault on Precinct 13," " They Live") but don't copy it as much as expand on it for the 21st century. The genre was in dire need of new blood, and we found it with these new talented directors.

Green's film is not part of the aforementioned new wave of horror; it is a cash grab, a way to bank on nostalgia for the masses. If that's what you're looking for, then by all means, go enjoy "Halloween," but I see it as being detrimental to the biting new direction the genre has been going in and as a step backwards instead of forwards in terms of artistry. It's a dumbing-down of horror, the kind of film I dreaded would come back in the 21st century, an R-rated gorefest that doesn't have the brains or integrity to back up its conventions. Let's hope the success of "Halloween" at the box-office doesn't have Hollywood re-energizing a dead genre.