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Halloween (2018) (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

For the 40th anniversary of his original killing spree on Halloween night in Haddonfield, Illinois in 1978, Michael Myers returned to theaters bigger than ever. Backed by Blumhouse, scored by John Carpenter and starring Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, director David Gordon Green along with Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley once again set forth a new timeline for the longtime slasher series. Everything obviously sold on being the film people wanted to see, as this 2018 Michael Myers/Laurie Strode Halloween story became the biggest Halloween movie ever and one of the highest grossing horror films of a all time. Now, and quickly I must add, Universal is unmasking the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray of the film to start off the new year. You can ensure yourself a copy of The Shape’s latest trail of brutally murdered bodies by pre-ordering from the Amazon link below to have when it releases on January 15th, 2019. It’s Halloween, everyone’s entitled to one good copy!

Film 

It’s been 40 years since Laurie Strode survived a vicious attack from crazed killer Michael Myers on Halloween night. Locked up in an institution, Myers manages to escape when his bus transfer goes horribly wrong. Laurie now faces a terrifying showdown when the masked madman returns to Haddonfield, Ill. — but this time, she’s ready for him.

David Gordon Green’s Halloween the second offers up the classic moments and feelings you once had with the original John Carpenter film while putting its own mark on violence and hinting at newer interesting directions but surrendering them to the favor of a safer journey. Overall, his film is a pretty rock solid knife and stab affair with Michael Myers that features another impressive return from Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode taking an alternate route on her character’s resolve of the worst night of her life. After a polarizing couple of films from Rob Zombie for audiences, the goal of this film seems to be to be a palette cleanser going back to the basics, delivering more in what people had desired from the series as opposed to taking a bold new direction. There are both positives and negatives that come from that, but overall, we receive a satisfactory film with some great moments for the series mixed in.

While this 11th film in the series wipes the continuity timeline slate clean once again, it goes out of its way to let you know it hasn’t completely forgotten what came before. Many have referred to Halloween’s 40th anniversary film as The Force Awakens for the Shape franchise, but its much more closer in relation to Jame Bond’s 50th anniversary film, Skyfall. A good chunk of this film feels like it has very obvious easter eggs, nods and scene reconstructions from the previous sequels in the series. For something that is trying to stand on its own and prove its timeline to be the definitive one, it sure seems to think those other films were the bees knees. Was this an attempt to appease fandom that gets upset of the clean slate approach as many were with H20 (rightfully) dropping the “curse of Thorn” storyline? As a longtime fanatic of the series, the amount of referencing almost becomes a bit of a distraction when watching the film, and suddenly one’s mind is wondering its Halloween mental file catalog to put together what a certain scene may or may not be trying call back on.

What it does have to call back on is the terrific work of Jamie Lee Curtis in the role of Laurie Strode. Its funny she’s not a fan of horror films, as she’s proven time and time again, she’s one of the best thespians to ever step into the genre from the moment she debuted in John Carpenter’s original Halloween. Here she takes another swipe at the old girl scout, this time with a focus on the trauma of a survivor with extreme issues regarding protection and being prepared for another moment to happen at any time. Its a different and more modern, realist take on the final girl after the fact than Halloween: H20 offered. Both versions of the role aren’t off and are very much ingrained on the what the public knew or felt at each one’s respective times on how people dealt with these things. Green’s film takes a much more hard nosed approach than Miner’s but you never once doubt or are against Laurie in this film.

Her antagonist Michael Myers puts in some of his best work in the series as well. We are treated to an eerie, intense and unpredictable performance of the likes we haven’t seen since the original film. James Jude Courtney, with on set assistance from the original Shape Nick Castle, bring to life the perfect companion to the original film’s Michael. This sense of mystery, randomness and striking on a whim brings back a rush of feelings that were there in the original to go along with one of the best masks he’s ever worn. This Michael Myers has an agenda, and even though many characters in the film hypothesize or demand to know what it is, he’s the only one who knows it. And it seemingly is more random and cold as it was in the first film. Without spoiling, there’s a terrific realization to be had upon his return to Haddonfield that really gives an identity and solidifies why the first film has worked above the other films for so long. There is also a device that comes into play that is indeed interesting, but is barely explored, seemingly feeling out of place and more of a sloppy patch to merge the second and third act together.

A triad has come together to return to the film for its 40th anniversary, joining Jamie Lee Curtis and Michael Myers (Nick Castle) is the director of the original film, John Carpenter. Importantly, he’s also the composer of the first film as well as the first two sequels (Halloween II and Halloween III: Season of the Witch). His refreshed and updated take on his original theme is fantastic and maybe the most important player in the movie in many moments. In a time where we are seeing countless imitators of his work, Carpenter along with son Cody and Daniel Davies bring forth a score that really adds an important layer to the film. Its beyond interesting, honoring the original series work while also twisting it and taking it into new places.

David Gordon Green does have a good sense in his direction. He’s concocted a terrific finale to go along with a few series all-timer kills and scenarios. The motion-detector scene is fantastic. Most of my qualms in 2018’s Halloween come from the script. But Green does something pretty awesome by making his violence unpredictable. When seen, the violence on here resembles (If not outdoing at times) the blood soaked brutality on display in the Rob Zombie films. What Green does though, is he has a surprising amount of kills done off screen, so we have no idea at which point he’s going to show us Michael’s handy work up close or just present the grisly aftermath in the next scene.

Coming together with everyone is the film’s supporting cast which winds up being a pretty impressive lot given how much is going on in the film. The focus of the film is squarely on Michael and Laurie, but Laurie’s daughter and granddaughter hold onto the spotlight pretty well. They work really fine as three generations. Judy Greer puts in her usual fine work (Though she gives a really monotone reading of a flashback at one point) and is given something more meaty in the mother role she consistently plays. Andi Maichak is pretty fun here and though she’s the new young final girl, she never feels as important to the film as Curtis or Greer. Though, with the story told she is important to them more than us the audience. A lot of the smaller characters really do stand out with what little time they are allotted. The little babysitter scenario brings out strong moments and chemistry with Virginia Gardner and the scene stealing Jibrail Natambu. Will Patton feels right at home in Haddonfield and Toby Huss is pretty fun as Karen Strode’s husband.

Halloween’s 2018 iteration is a fun slasher that hints to more interesting things than it explores. Which only brings the wonder because what they do explore, mainly Laurie Strode’s post trauma life, is very interesting to chew on. The movie does deliver is successful and appealing fashion for our times. But, I’ll remind that other milestone anniversary films in the series, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and Halloween: H20 did as well. Those have aged to become slightly more familiar products of their eras as well this one may just join them. Surprisingly enough, the more divisive (Though it has a pretty big fanbase in its own right) Rob Zombie film feels more the product of an artist than being able to pinpoint where it came from or falling into trappings of its time (Its only guilty of being part of a remake trend). Overall, Halloween works as a more top notch slasher film with a little more. It gives you a terrific Michael and great showdown with Laurie and is definitely loving and trying to compliment on what worked so well in the original film.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: 2018 Halloween marks the first time the series has had a film shot in digital (Both of Rob Zombie’s were shot on film), but it was only finished at 2.8K so unfortunately this is an upconvert. However, this looks really good and has an impressive amount of detail to its image. The movie is about some aged and weathered people and it shows down to the fine details of a home interior or the seats of a bus. Comparing it to the standard Blu-ray, this feels much more flush and full of life and color than that presentation.

Depth: There is some terrific spacing here and the camera movements come across quite confident and move with a real smoothness to them. Character motions are quite good and no blur or jitter occurs when they became rapid through the action moments.

Black Levels: The natural blacks here help to shade and add to the dread of most scenes. Nothing ever gets too dark or hidden where things weren’t intended to be. Seeing Michael in the deep background is quite fun, as he pokes around through the shadows. No crushing occurs in the image.

Color Reproduction: Colors are on the natural side of things with that very fall feel to them. However their are some good burst on articles of clothing that are standout. The HDR glow really comes into play nicely on the taillights of the bus crash as well as some lights hitting Michael’s mask in the young kid’s room. Pumpkin candle glows looks pretty wealthy here as well. Its a very dark movie for a lot of it and when lights and such are shining on it glows with a nice bit of beauty.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. This might be one of the most impressive aspect as facial detail and texture is rampant and almost feels like you know what it’d be like to touch someone’s face. Michael’s mask is oozing with crisp textures, colors and wear while dried blood, make-up, wrinkles, stubble and all sorts of facial features come through clear as day from most given distances.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English DTS:X, Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: Hallowen comes with a pretty nice DTS:X track that captures the spirit of the film pretty well. John Carpenter’s score really feel free to move around more than anything else in this mix and is loving balanced and displayed, really adding to a lot of the film. Action, shocking murders and jumps really do pretty good here in their effective weave into the mix. It also is able to be quite impressive in the quiet moments too, making you await whats around the next dreaded corner. Its not set as loud as one would probably have their default setting, so you’ll want to kick it up just a couple notches and it will stab right in the sweet spot.

Height: Much of the cool stuff here happens when in the basement. The highlight however, is the way the score presents itself above and really consumes the room. Its a key element in this mix and I enjoy how full they make it by floating it above at times.

Low Frequency Extension: The score beats, impaling, crashing, roaring flames, gunfire and more have a nice pop on the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: When this movie wants to play around it does have some fun, mostly in the third act. Every speaker in the mix is utilized well, but for a lot of the film its pretty straight forward until the big finale action takes place.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp with good loud volume placement on them. Character diction and mouth sounds are pretty impressive displaying what the mix has captured.

Extras 

Halloween (2018) comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a digital copy of the film. All extras DO actually appear on the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray disc.

Deleted/Extended Scenes (HD, 12:35)

Back In Haddonfield: Making Halloween (HD, 6:05) – A quick featurette on the making of the film with interviews of all pertinent cast and crew (Curtis, Green, Carpenter, McBride, Greer and more) that focuses on some of the kill scenes. If it didn’t include spoilers it could pass for an EPK promo.

The Original Scream Queen (HD, 2:32) – Quickly runs through the excellence of Jamie Lee Curtis from the original Halloween and what she brings to this one.

The Sound Of Fear (HD, 3:19) – Probably the best and most in-depth any of the featurettes get, this shows Carpenter, his son Cody and Daniel Davies working on the score for the film. Carpenter talks his influence on the original and they all go over this film and we get footage of their recording process. Its brief, but feels the most fulfilling of any of these featurettes.

Journey Of The Mask (HD, 2:33) – David Gordon Green and the effects man who made the mask go over trying to recreate and age it for this film and they have a little bit about the performance of the Michael actor in here as well.

The Legacy Of Halloween (HD, 4:24) – An all too brief sit down with Jamie Lee Curtis, John Carpenter, David Gordon Green and Jason Blum. This feels like the start of a bigger, more fascinating conversation. Once it feels like its getting going, its over.

Summary 

Halloween provides solid slasher film with a dynamite contribution from Jamie Lee Curtis. Care seems to taken at every turn both to the film’s benefit and detriment. As mentioned though, I’m always game to see my favorite movie monster of all time wreak havok on the big screen any time he’s ready to return. Universal’s 4K Ultra-HD presentation of the Blumhouse film is terrific with some great detailed video that features a very complimentary DTS:X track. The bonus materials here are where the release lets you down, though, as they are pretty weak and very “promo-esque” in their quick keyword hits and adding only generic thoughts to the making of the film. All around a solid release, and worth the pickup, but I think many will be left still thirsty for some more meaty extras.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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