ALL hail All Hallow’s Eve, a night to hit the dressing up box and forget about tooth decay and obesity for a few hours. The run up to October 31 is also the occasion for cinema to scare audiences silly, and few films have done that more successfully than John Carpenter and Debra Hill’s 1978 horror, Halloween.

Like other bright ideas before and since, the concept was flogged to death in ever sillier sequels and remakes. Good reason, then, for greeting yet another Halloween with a yawn rather than a scream. But put that notion on hold, for David Gordon Green’s version is a back to basics chiller with more than a few things to recommend it, not least the reappearance of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, the babysitter who survived the night when Michael Myers went on the rampage.

Forty years on (yes, now you can scream), Laurie is still living in the same area. You might wonder why she did not move as far away as possible, but Laurie has been unable to leave the past behind, despite the pleading of her daughter Karen and granddaughter Ally (Judy Greer and Andi Matichak). She has spent the past four decades preparing, physically, mentally, and architecturally (check out that hidden basement) for the return of Myers.

Myers is still in the state’s care. Famous again now that true crime podcasts are all the rage, he is visited by two journalists keen to find out how his mind works. The expert on Myers these days is Dr Sartain (Haluk Bilginer), who takes the place of Donald Pleasence’s Loomis in the original. Sartain insists on accompanying Myers when he and other dangerous inmates are transferred to a new secure hospital via a night drive on back roads. Again, you might wonder if this is an entirely sound idea, but like Dr Pepper says, what’s the worst that can happen?

Green made a name for himself with left-field indies such as Joe (Nicolas Cage as mentor) and Prince Avalanche. For the screenplay he teams with Danny McBride, best known for near the knuckle comedies including Tropic Thunder, and Jeff Fradley. The combination gives the film a knowing air, as when one of Ally’s friends asks why her grandma is still making such a big deal out of Myers given his deeds, though awful, have been replaced by worse horrors. There are amusing moments too, including Jibrail Nantambu stealing a scene as a youngster with the bad fortune to be babysat this Halloween.

The killing, when it starts, is gruesome. Myers does so much of it the act becomes routine to the point of boring. So much so that the mind wanders and questions pile up, never a good thing to happen when you are supposed to be suspending disbelief. Why, for example, is it so difficult to stop Myers given he walks everywhere? A toddler on a tricycle could outpace him, never mind a police car.

Where this Halloween scores, apart from the casting of Curtis, is in fashioning the story from the main victim’s viewpoint. The Laurie of 2018 is no longer a young, terrified babysitter but a gun-toting grandma who is mad as hell at Myers and is not going to take any more.

Curtis, to her credit, plays Laurie as an ordinary grandma, with no make up, glasses, wild hair, and supermarket jeans. Shock horror: actor allowed to look her own age on screen. What will they think of next?

Another to look out for this week is the Italian drama Dogman ****. Directed by Matteo Garrone of Gomorra fame, it is the story of a dog groomer who loves his daughter and his furry charges. Marcello is a gentle soul, less able than most in the down-at-heel seaside town to resist the demands of local bully Simoncino. It is a failing for which he pays a high price. Far from a cuddly watch, but Marcello Fonte delivers an unforgettable performance as the runt of the pack. He won best actor at Cannes, with the canine cast scooping the Palm Dog.