‘Halloween (2018)’ Review: ‘There’s A Reason We’re Supposed To Be Afraid Of This Night’
I didn’t want to like the new Halloween movie. I’m in the school of thought that by erasing all of the sequels, remakes, reboots, and whatever that came after the 1978 original, the filmmakers were being lazy and going for a cheap cash-in. Besides, love it or hate it, Halloween II added so much to the greater mythos of Michael Myers. A skilled writer could make it all work, or why even bother? To many fans, the Halloween franchise had run its course, and Rob Zombie’s two reboot films were the gravestone on this lifeless franchise.
The character of Michael Myers was, as presented in John Carpenter’s classic, pure evil — driven to kill with zero reason as to why. That’s why the first film still holds up. Halloween II added character beats that developed Myers into something more than just an escaped mental patient, and by bringing in family elements (he has a thing for killing his sisters) and even Celtic myths, the first two films did a wonderful job telling a great scary story about a monster who could just be the boy next door. I’d even go so far to add Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers to that list, as it kept the beats of the first two films, and seemingly brought it all back to the beginning with that last shot of young Jamie (Danielle Harris), dressed as a clown holding a bloody knife after killing her older sister — just like Michael back in 1963.
But all of that is now erased, and this new Halloween just pretends none of that happened. Michael Myers is back to being a relentless killer for no reason and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is just a grown up version of the terrorized teen girl who survived his massacre. She’s affected, of course, and the trauma of that night in 1978 has essentially made her an outcast who believes that world is too dangerous a place and that people should be prepared to fight for their survival. She collects guns, and her house is a series of ingeniously designed traps. She’s had failed marriages and even had her daughter, Karen (played as an adult by Judy Greer), taken away from her by the state. This Laurie is damaged, just like the monster who killed her friends and tried to kill her 40 years ago.
As for Michael Myers (Nick Castle), he’s back at Smith’s Grove, and he hasn’t said a single word since he killed his sister, Judith, in 1963. That was always something that haunted Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance), and it continues to fascinate his new caregiver, Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer). Michael is scheduled to be moved to a new permanent home on October 30th, where he will be secured and locked away until his dying day.
When two real crime podcasters (Rhian Rees and Jefferson Hall) show up to interview Michael for their latest episode, things are set in motion that sees Michael escape and head back to Haddonfield, and the killings begin again. Laurie tries to rally her family, which includes her granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak), and Karen’s husband, Ray (Toby Huss), to be prepared for anything this Halloween night, and of course, she’s ignored — until bodies start popping up.
Officer Hawkins (Will Patton), who was there that night in 1978, and who prevented Loomis from killing Michael once and for all, is now forced to try and save the residents of Haddonfield from a relentless murder machine that kills kids and adults alike without remorse. And now, 40 years later, Halloween is a night of terror again, and as Hawkins says it, “There’s a reason we’re supposed to be afraid of this night.”
Director David Gordon Green does an amazing job of paying homage to John Carpenter, while also doing some new things. Some of the shots and angles are inspired, and the opening scene at Smith’s Grove with Michael being interviewed was a masterclass in getting an audience reaction with quick cuts and loud noises. In fact, that scene might have been the most tense in the whole film, and it takes place at day, in a wide open space, yet I found myself holding my breath.
In another instance, once Michael gets back to Haddonfield and the killing starts, his rampage is shot in one extended take that follows “The Shape” through a few gruesome kills — even in different houses! My horror loving brain could hardly process how cool this was to see in a “slasher” film. This is outstanding horror directing from a guy best known for directing the stoner comedy Pineapple Express. Green teamed up with Danny McBride — yes, that Danny McBride — and Jeff Fradley to write the script, and somehow, these comedians told a better Halloween story than even seasoned horror filmmakers. Rob Zombie should be even more ashamed.
John Carpenter served as an executive producer for this Halloween, and in so doing, he gave the production his blessing. He even contributed to the score with his son, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel A. Davies. Hearing that iconic music again, performed by the original composer is a treat. There are some new pieces created for this film explicitly and they are classic Carpenter.
Halloween doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. Drawing from Carpenter’s classic, Green and McBride, and the solid cast, tell a new story by carefully toeing the line between rehash and homage. Jamie Lee Curtis is fantastic as this “new” Laurie Strode, and Nick Castle (unmasked) and James Jude Courtney (action scenes) are perfect as the stoic, merciless “The Shape.” There is just the right amount of violence and gore, without going over the top, and a few cheap jump scares to get the audience’s blood pumping. This is how you make an effective slasher film, and since Carpenter’s Halloween started it all, it’s only fitting that this new version finishes what that film started.
All in all, I didn’t want to like this version of Halloween. I ended up loving it.
Halloween (2018) is rated R and is in theaters on October 19.
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