Released Oct. 19, 2018
Rated R – 1hr 46min
Directed by David Gordon Green
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak
Forty years after the infamous Babysitter Murders devastated the town of Haddonfield, the killer – Michael Myers – is being transferred to a lesser facility after decades of silence and docility. He escapes to continue his obsessive-compulsive killing spree, seeking out the one who got away, Laurie Strode (Curtis), but she has spent her entire adult life waiting and preparing for this day. What she doesn’t count on is that her granddaughter Allyson (Matichak) will wind up in his path.
David Gordon Green’s Halloween is absolute fan service, wrapped up in a bloody package and delivered with a smile. It’s everything one could reasonably ask for from an entry in this vaunted horror series
There’s no doubt about it – the classic iteration of Michael Myers is back, crashing through the door of pop culture in the way he’s prone to do. It’s all here – the forboding atmosphere, the suspense, the clever callbacks to previous films, the nebulous and destructive evil of The Shape, the distinctive and amazing musical scoring of John Carpenter, and once again, the return of the franchise’s most beloved survivor, back from the dead and everything. As a lifelong Halloween fan, I should have been doing cartwheels of joy out of the theater, but instead, I was left both satisfied and somewhat bothered.
Let’s begin with the concept. Every single movie but the original has been wiped clean from the slate to set up the plot for this outing. That’s fair enough and not particularly difficult to accept once the film starts rolling, but I personally would have still left 1981’s Halloween II in the mix. It would have upped the stakes substantially, considering how much more carnage Michael committed there, yet I suppose we’re being asked to accept a situation where many have forgotten how potentially and phenomenally dangerous he really is. Still though, it’s somewhat jarring to need to forget so much backstory – especially when it’s actively provoking memories of those entries as it goes along. Certainly forgivable, but a bit awkward and it never quite shakes off that bizarro world undercurrent.
Also, Michael Myers is one lucky son of a bitch. All he does is wander, stalk, and kill, yet fortune forever smiles down upon his efforts as he coincidentally encounters everything and everyone he needs in order to suit up, recover his iconic mask, and be led on the trail of his most elusive prey, without once doing a single Google search. As we enter the climactic third act, this reliance on plot convenience has something of a shark-jumping moment that flirts heavily with the absurd and it was difficult to really get back into it when the story is reaching its zenith point.
That point is still good, however. Michael’s inevitable confrontation with three generations of Strodes, all of whose lives he’s impacted through his remorseless deeds in one way or another, is a rightful highlight of Halloween. It’s too brief and, to be honest, H20 already walked down this very same path before and did it better, but it’s still good. That may very well be the Achilles heel of this update – there’s so much to compare it to and while it does most things well, there’s many instances where those things have already been done better within the same series.
I don’t want to get too negative on Halloween 2018 though. Jamie Lee Curtis is fantastic as Laurie Strode, Survivalist Grandma. Not unlike Sarah Conner of the Terminator series, her traumatic encounter left her hardened and paranoid, costing her a healthy relationship with her daughter Karen, played by Judy Greer in an adequate if unnotable performance. Andi Matichak is charismatic as Laurie’s granddaughter through whom Laurie is attempting to reconcile her past mistakes – she might be the best among the three alternate universes of Laurie Strode descendants and is a name to watch out for in the future.
Director David Gordon Green aims to amuse, for the most part, with invoking the vibe of numerous predecessors – even Rob Zombie’s adaptation with a particularly brutal sequence set in a gas station. He does, however, establish some awesome set pieces of his own – the best involving a single unbroken 5-minute tracking shot of Myers hitting the neighborhood for the first time; to his credit, it’s one of the very best and most chilling sequences from all 11 movies. Additionally, the dialogue is witty and on point throughout and, although I already mentioned it, the updated score from the master of musical menace John Carpenter is as integral to the character of Michael Myers as is his trademark mask.
Ultimately, this iteration of Halloween is neither the all-time best of the series or the best since the original. It is extremely solid though, despite its story that wobbles with many an unlikely circumstance and a final confrontation that is over a bit too quickly. It’s firmly in the top half of the franchise and a welcome return of the series after a lengthy 9-year absence (16 years if you’re inclined to disown the Zombie interpretations and 20 if you furthermore ignore the abysmal Resurrection). This may very well be the end of the road for the original Michael Myers, and as such, it serves as a worthy send-off for the legendary villain. Despite the unforeseen return, he’s likely headed back out to the reboot pasture again, so it’s wise for fans to soak this one in while it’s new.