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HALLOWEEN: 4 STARS. “direct follow-up to the original film is all treats, no tricks.”

Did you love “Halloween III: Season of the Witch”? Wipe it from your memory. What about “Halloween H20: 20 Years Later”? Fuhgeddaboudit. How about “Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers” or any of the other masked killer films that came after John Carpenter’s 1978 slasher classic? They don’t exist. When you lay down money for a ticket to the new “Halloween” you are erasing four decades of slashing and dashing and seeing a direct follow-up to the original film.

Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode, the resourceful babysitter who, forty years ago, bravely stood up to masked killer Michael Myers (Nick Castle). The intervening years have seen her raise her now estranged daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and live in a home fortified with booby-traps in case Myers should reappear. “He’s waited for this night,” she says. “I’ve waited for him.”

At the beginning of the film Myers—known as ‘The Shape’ in the first movie—is still paying the price for killing his teenage sister Judith and the subsequent slaughter of four others. Tucked away in Smith’s Grove Sanatorium he is silent, a man who hasn’t spoken since committing his first murder at the age of six.

When Aaron Korey (Jefferson Hall) and Dana Haines (Rhian Rees), two British true crime podcasters, try to pry and interview out of Myers they arrive just before the Bogeyman escapes on October 31, 2018, put on the famous mask and reboot his killing career with an eye toward the one victim who got away all those years ago.

The 1978 and 2018 movies share more than a title and a leading lady. They share structural DNA and frights galore. The 2018 film feels fresh, timely and like a throwback to the moody low-fi scares of the original slasher flicks.

Castle is as eerie as always but it is Curtis who steals the show. Strode is grown up, suffers from PTSD and by her own words is “a basket case.” What she is not is broken. “I prayed every night for him to escape,” she says, “so I could kill him.” The trauma of 40 years ago has hardened her but she’s a warrior and a survivor who uses the great personal price Myers extracted from her as fuel to keep going. It’s tremendous stuff and in the #MeToo era the kind of heroine reclaiming her power that should make audiences cheer.

“Halloween” is both a reboot and a bloody love letter to the director who started it all, John Carpenter.

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