Since 1978 John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’ series has scared audiences. The tale of a masked maniac stalking teenagers blazed a trail for countless similar franchises such as ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘Friday the 13th’. Reaching its 11th entry, ‘Halloween’ ignores the sequels and directly follows on from the first movie. This streamlines the story without being hampered by the increasingly confusing mythology. ‘Halloween’ attempts to be a straight up thrill-ride with October 31 looking deadlier than ever.

Forty years after his killing spree terrorized the citizens of Haddonfield, Michael Myers (Nick Castle) is safely locked away at Smith’s Grove Sanatorium. One of his few surviving victims, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), is still haunted by his actions. Suffering from ongoing post-traumatic stress, Laurie has attempted to move on with life by raising her daughter Karen (Judy Greer). Unfortunately evil soon rears its vicious head as Myers escapes custody. The murderous trail swiftly begins anew as Myers hunts Laurie that leads to a showdown between old enemies.

The main question viewers want answered about ‘Halloween’ is if it’s scary. It has its moments as Laurie increasingly warns others of the dangers they face. Curtis portrays a woman scarred by the past very well, proving what an accomplished actress she is. Laurie isn’t weak and will take the fight to Michael. Her relationship with her family also defines her rage with several smart set-pieces showing Laurie’s determination in exorcising her demons. ‘Halloween’ is one of the better acted entries with director David Gordon Green re-invigorating a series that was in danger of becoming a parody of itself.

Whilst the performances and overall story are involving, the ratio of genuine scares is low. Like many recent horror movies, ‘Halloween’ ironically seems too afraid to push the boundaries of terror in favour of cheap jump-scares. The lack of music highlights this as the moody tension of the original is missing. Copious editing would have also helped as ‘Halloween’ feels overly long which saps any much-needed creepy atmosphere. Thankfully it isn’t a gore-fest despite the high body count and the character development is stronger than previously.

Although not exactly a return to form, ‘Halloween’ sits near the top of the franchise’s scoreboard. It notches up a few decent thrills but not enough to call it truly scary. But it’s always a pleasure seeing Jamie Lee Curtis further developing her iconic role that not even the blade of Michael Myer’s knife could subdue.

Rating out of 10: 6

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