The night he keeps coming back home
Halloween is directed and co-written by David Gordon Green and is the eleventh film in the Halloween franchise. It ignores all previous installments besides the original, serving as a direct sequel to the first film. Jaime Lee Curtis reprises her role as Laurie Strode, with Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, and Virginia Gardner also starring.
The Halloween franchise, almost exactly like Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, has become what the vast majority of horror franchises sadly turn into if people keep giving them money and granting them the privilege of rolling out new installments year after year: a franchise in which the first movie is good, or even great, but then everything else afterwards is either average or total trash. Following John Carpenter's Halloween, the Halloween franchise was off and running, the sequels creating an elaborate backstory for Michael Myers and getting to the point where almost nothing made any god damn sense anymore. So I suppose we should be thankful that the 2018 Halloween (I am going to assume that this film will go by Halloween 2018 in the future, in order to be distinguished from the 1978 Halloween), by serving as a direct sequel to the 1978 movie, basically says, "Alright, let's take the original film, and just screw all that crap that happened afterwards, because there's no point in trying to make sense of it all."
Thus, as it has been forty years since the release of John Carpenter's Halloween, this Halloween takes place forty years after the Halloween night that Michael Myers terrorized the town of Haddonfield, Illinois. A pair of true-crime podcasters, Aaron Korey (Jefferson Hall) and Dana Haines (Rhian Rees), arrive at Smith's Grove Sanitarium to speak with Michael Myers. They are unsuccessful with getting Michael to speak, even when they show him the mask that he wore back in 1978. Aaron and Dana then travel to the home of Laurie Strode, who has loaded up on weapons and has had her home heavily secured, believing that Michael will one day return to terrorize Haddonfield again. That is exactly what happens when a bus carrying several patients (one of them of course being Michael) from the Sanitarium crashes into a ditch, allowing the patients to escape. Michael is able to retrieve his mask, and makes his return to Haddonfield to go on another killing spree.
There's good reason to be a little frustrated while watching Halloween, as the skeletal structure of its plot is highly imitative of the original Halloween, the only real differences being that the deaths are bloodier and more graphic, and Laurie Strode is now a hot-tempered mother whose PTSD appears to have her on the verge of insanity. Then again, almost all slasher movies have a similar structure, so it wouldn't do much good to go on complaining about the plot, as you know Michael Myers is going to get loose, kill a bunch of people, and eventually come face-to-face with Laurie. In the wrong hands, this could all add up to more disposable slasher trash, but thankfully, this material was not placed in the wrong hands, as David Gordon Green is able to deliver a mostly satisfying follow-up to John Carpenter's horror classic.
- Jaime Lee Curtis gives a spirited effort in what is now her fifth appearance as Laurie Strode, delivering the best performance in the film by a mile. Here, Curtis nicely handles the heavy load that her character carries: being Michael Myers' most wanted target, a protective mother, a caring grandmother, and a gun-slinging badass all at once. It is obvious that this is not a "paycheck collection" kind of movie for Curtis, proving through her performance that she found this film capable of recapturing some of the terror and suspense from John Carpenter's film, thus. Curtis herself has stated that she immediately hit it off with David Gordon Green, further stating that he reminded her of John Carpenter. So in short, Halloween 2018 has the support of the actress that helped spawn the franchise in the first place, a truly invaluable luxury for this franchise that just recently hit its 40th birthday.
- Halloween 2018 decides to play it a little too safe with its kills and its story, settling for all of the slasher basics while also rolling out several of the most annoying horror cliches (Gosh I can't stand the "girl getting chased inexplicably falls down and gets killed"). None of Michael Myers' kills are too creative, nor do they utilize any kind of neat camera work to make the kills look more frightening. The best that the camera-work does in terms of doing something special is a long, continuous take of Michael walking from the sidewalk towards the back of a person's house. It's nothing too exciting, unfortunately. Meanwhile, the plot doesn't take any sort of twist or turn, meaning real, genuine suspense is heavily lacking. True, this is very much the best Halloween film since the original. Doesn't mean it can hold a candle to John Carpenter's classic.
It should have been painfully obvious from the get-go that Halloween 2018 was going to be inferior to the 1978 original. No one should hesitate to bet money that no future Halloween film will come close to matching what John Carpenter did so well on a limited budget back then. But for a film that is attempting to revitalize the franchise and start it anew, this Halloween movie works just fine: as a slasher film full of bloody kills, and as a serviceable follow-up to Carpenter's film. Jamie Lee Curtis gives one of her more memorable performances in recent memory, and it will be interesting to see if she decides to come back for future installments (come on, you know they're not going to stop making these, not as long as they keep raking in massive profits). I took a liking to what happens during the opening credits: a smashed pumpkin slowly reverses to a normal state. That's David Gordon Green's way of telling us he knows his film is going to work and save the franchise from total mediocrity. And you know what? He turned out to be right.
Recommend? Yes. It's worth a watch around Halloween time.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: