“This is Halloween, this is Halloween…” goes a song from another seasonal movie, but it could also sum up a lot of the reactions coming out of the Tornoto International Film Festival‘s world premiere of the new Halloween, which is technically the third movie in the franchise to bear that title, and also the third (maybe) to be a direct sequel to the first film. John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis returning gave us all hope, as did the attachment of producer Jason Blum. But David Gordon Green and Danny McBride, a team best known for comedies, were a big question mark with fans of the scary series. UPDATE, 1:00 A.M.: The written reviews are rolling in, and as of this writing it’s 100% fresh.
Variety‘s Peter DeBruge, who is no easy mark for slasher cinema, says it works as both fan-service and horror movie. His review is more spoiler-heavy than most, but his bottom line is that “[David Gordon] Green (who flirted with the idea of directing the “Suspiria” remake) has pulled off what he set out to do, tying up the mythology that Carpenter and company established, while delivering plenty of fresh suspense.”
The Hollywood Reporter‘s John DeFore is on almost exactly the same page, saying it’s “delivering both fan service and honest-to-god moviemaking of the sort rarely seen in horror spinoffs.” He also spoils more than most fans will want to know, but “The bottom line: killer.”
Chris Evangelista at Slashfilm calls it “a love-letter to horror fans.” He heavily praise Jamie Lee Curtis, the John Carpenter score, and the fact that Michael Myers is scary again. Like some other reviewers, however, he doesn’t like the new psychiatrist character who replaces the late Donald Plesance’s Dr. Loomis, calling him, “absolutely terrible, and he’s involved in a subplot that brings the entire movie to a screeching halt. It’s such a wrongheaded idea that I can’t believe it made it into the final film.”
Dread Central’s Jonathan Barkin declares, “They did it. They actually did it. I’m sitting outside the Elgin Theater with the largest grin on my face.” He specifies that “as intense as it is, Halloween is surprisingly emotional and touching at moments while fiercely hilarious at others.”
Peri Nemiroff at Collider also praises the humor, but notes for the skeptics that this is no comedy: “When the violence and brutality of Halloween kick in, they’re ruthless and relentless.” Giving it an A-, she concludes that “Halloween is a shining example of what any other budding slasher reboot or sequel should strive to be.”
While Indiewire’s headline uses the word “campy,” Eric Kohn’s actual review doesn’t make it sound that way, as he praises the cinematic qualities Green gives the material, finally noting, “However, the movie would be a harmless, discardable remix of standard horror notes if not for Curtis, who charges through the movie as if she never stopped running four decades back.”
Well, now folks have finally seen the film, and even granted that festivals have a very charged atmosphere, the response is mostly good-to-great so far from critics Tweeting out their thoughts.
Hell yeah, #Halloween rocks! So scary & pretty funny. The way it balances the freak-out and the nervous humor and the nasty kills is just fantastic. All of it plays so well together. Badass to the bone. Loved it. As David Gordon Green says, “it’s simple and relentless.” #TIFF18 pic.twitter.com/ZpebQfdAVF
— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) September 9, 2018
— Angie J. Han (@ajhan) September 9, 2018
— Jim Vejvoda @ TIFF (@JimVejvoda) September 9, 2018
#Halloween is vicious! Loved the continuation of Laurie’s story but the pure evil of Michael’s drive to kill and the randomness of it is there and it’s strong. Beautifully shot, score is on point, some great humor and loaded with gore. It’s the complete package.
— Perri Nemiroff (@PNemiroff) September 9, 2018
Some had misgivings, but not of the movie-ruining sort:
#Halloween I am pleased. The film tackles trauma across generations through DYNAMIC WOMEN. I have some issues with the portrayal of its few Black characters, specifically the exaggeration of Jibrail Nantambu’s character. But..I am overall content. #TIFF18 pic.twitter.com/7D7SoXhbDo
— Jaleesa Lashay Diaz (@JaleesaLashay) September 9, 2018
— Chris Evangelista @ TIFF (@cevangelista413) September 9, 2018
Meanwhile, dissenters were polite.
Carpenter’s #Halloween is one of my all-time favorite horror films. Completely lacking its despair & discipline, David Gordon Green’s did nothing for me. The occasion itself was moderately fun–the score, the cheering crowd eager to be pleased, Jamie Lee Curtis, etc. #TIFF18
— Tomris Laffly (@TomiLaffly) September 9, 2018
The new HALLOWEEN starts with an interesting premise. The ending is good. The rest was really disappointing. #tiff18
— Mike Ryan (@mikeryan) September 9, 2018
JoBlo.com beat the crowds to post the first review on Rotten Tomatoes, the only one as of this writing, and it’s a fresh, with Chris Bumbray calling it “worthy, faithful follow-up very much in the mold of Carpenter’s original.”
We’ll be updating as more reviews come in, and will have our own review from Katie Walsh shortly. Here’s a possible preview:
Um, why did I just cry in HALLOWEEN?
— Katie Walsh (@katiewalshstx) September 9, 2018
So far, nobody seems to have angrily hated it.