+ Recommended – R, Horror, Slasher (106 minutes)
The long awaited, direct sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 horror classic is finally in theaters to quench your thirst for spooky season. There was, and still is, a lot of pressure riding on the back of director David Gordon Green to deliver a solid follow-up to the first movie, as much of the previously established lore has been discarded. Fans are undoubtedly excited for this sequel, as the movie grossed $7.7 million dollars on its Thursday preview night; not too shabby, but my prediction of a $100 million opening has been squandered. After the nostalgia runs dry and everyone goes home to reflect upon the events of this new installment, fans will likely be divided on some of the creative choices Green and co-writer Danny McBride made.
After 40 years, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) will finally come face-to-face with Michael Myers, the shape who murdered her friends and caused many years of post-traumatic stress for Strode and her family. No one in Haddonfield really takes Strode seriously, though, not even her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) or granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). In ways, Halloween (2018) feels very reminiscent of Terminator 2: Judgement Day: there is a strong female lead, whom nobody believes, fighting an invisible fight–waiting on a single event that shes been preparing for all her life. It’s Laurie’s struggle with PTSD and the baggage between her and Michael that separate Halloween (2018) from any other generic slasher flick, but this wouldn’t have been possible without Carpenter’s original to work off of, and the team behind this direct sequel acknowledge that.
Even though Laurie is very prominent in the marketing, overall she’s underused. In fact, nearly ever character seems underused. Halloween (2018) progresses very much like a present-day film: the characters can’t quite keep up with the pace. And when each actor has extraordinary talent, it’s frustrating when the script rapidly transitions from one scene to another. In most cases, faster pace won’t have too much of a negative impact on the story but it can be frustrating when a story has many likable characters and a short run-time; the film’s run-time is 1 hour and 46 minutes. There simply isn’t enough time with Laurie, with Karen and Allyson, or even with Michael, really–leading me to feel, especially after reflecting upon the film, like it was unfocused. One scene in particular, and you’ll know it when you see it, will either make or break your immersion: for me, the immersion was shredded, but only temporarily.
Halloween (2018) isn’t a bad movie, or even one that could be described as just “okay.” It’s good. It’s damn good. A highly entertaining slasher flick, directly related to a horror classic, that has been re-imagined for a new audience while maintaining certain elements of the original that make the property unique. Everything from Michael Simmonds’ cinematography, which captures the absolutely menacing presence of The Shape, to the way in which James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle move among the shadows as Myers, are deeply effective. Carpenter’s score reignites the classic atmosphere of the original, but it’s the meta dialogue from Green and McBride that freshen the stink from the word “reboot.”
In all honesty, I’m going to need to make a trip back to the theater for another screening of Halloween (2018), before I decide on a definitive ranking of the franchise. For now, all I can be certain of is that I like it more than most of the sequels, but I do have a soft spot for Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. And in many ways, Halloween (2018) is a mix between the original and H20. But what I am sure of, is that Rob Zombie’s remakes pale in comparison to what Green and McBride made here. This is a good movie to watch in a packed theatre around Halloween time, or really anytime in October. Take your friends out, take your girlfriend out, take your parents, who love the original, out to see the new movie. It’ll be worth your time and your money.