May 21, 2019

A Jewish Take on the New "Halloween"

“At some point in the new Halloween, David Gordon Green’s reboot of the iconic horror franchise, a middle-aged daughter and her wild-haired mother are standing in the daughter’s kitchen, talking about the meaning of life. It’s the sort of room that looks like it belongs in a West Elm catalogue, inviting and airy, and the daughter’s worldview fits right in with the well-lit panels. “The world is not a dark and evil place,” she tells her mother. “It’s full of love and understanding and I’m not letting your psychotic rants confuse me or convince me otherwise.”

The mother begs to differ. She is Laurie Strode, played, as ever, by the singular Jamie Lee Curtis, who has spent the last 40 years, not to mention four of the series’ 10 previous films, on the run from Michael Myers, the masked menace who is to the kitchen knife what Itzhak Perlman is to the Stradivarius. This newest installment finds Laurie holed up in her compound in the woods, stockpiling paranoia and firearms as she waits for Myers to come a-calling. This being Halloween, he does, escaping his maximum security mental institution for one more stab at the one woman he can never quite kill.

With as many dark jokes as jump scares—one teenager, for example, wonders out loud why everyone is so obsessed with Myers, whose body count to that point, five victims total, makes him pale in comparison with today’s more accomplished school shooters—the film is a thrill that deserves an audience far wider than the usual horror heads. Jews are likely to find Halloween particularly poignant, as the story it tells is, in many ways, our own.”

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