40 years as well as multiple sequels and remakes have come between the original 1978 Halloween and the 2018 version. Does this new take on the classic slasher flick live up to expectations?
John Carpenter created one of the most iconic horror villains in Michael Myers four decades ago. “The Shape” would go on to appear in seven films in the original franchise continuity, twice more in the Rob Zombie films as well as various novelizations and comic books. With an estimated 111 kills in the previous 10 films, the infamous slasher has returned to wreak havoc on the town of Haddonfield once more.
Director David Gordon Green, though best known for his comedic stylings with TV series such as Eastbound & Down and Vice Principals and films like Pineapple Express and Your Highness took the reigns much to the surprise of fans everywhere. Even more shocking was the announcement of his writing partner, funny man Danny McBride. Despite the genre shift, the behind the scenes staff were able to bring Halloween back to the masses in a very satisfying way.
Ignoring the various sequels and remakes, the new Halloween continues the story of the original film, drawing inspiration from its predecessor with a slight variation. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has spent her life preparing for Michael’s eventual escape, arming herself to the gills and turning her home into a death trap. Michael inevitably escapes and mayhem ensues. Without getting into spoiler territory, let’s discuss the highs and lows of Halloween.
There is so much to like about this film, especially if you’re a fan of the original film and/or franchise. The supernatural element from the original films has been discarded, thankfully. No mention of the Curse of Thorn or the strange visualizations Rob Zombie threw into his version of Halloween 2. To put it plainly: Michael is simply a killing machine hellbent on quenching his thirst for blood. He’s back for Laurie in the worst way, which is very evident throughout the course of the film.
Speaking of Michael’s blood lust, the kills in this film are brutal yet believable. Michael doesn’t have over the top strength like Rob Zombie portrayed in his films, but he’s certainly a formidable killer to say the least. Necks are snapped, heads are crushed and bodies are stabbed mercilessly in the most lovely, cringe-worthy way. Despite taking a massive amount of damage, Michael stops at nothing to take down the one that got away.
Watching Jamie Lee Curtis on-screen again as Laurie Strode was an absolute treat. The film’s writers really delved deeply into the psychology of Laurie and how her life was impacted from the original Babysitter Murders back in 1978. She’s self-admitted basket case that has seen her relationship with her family all but dissipate because of her constant paranoia. Laurie is a complete badass and her character’s evolution flows seamlessly in this film.
While on the topic of psychology, it was interesting to see how the film’s setup was initially presented. Two investigative journalists are tasked with learning more about the murders to bring the case into modern-day. Though Donald Pleasance’s Dr. Loomis has long since been dead, another doctor (Dr. Sartain) is obsessed with trying to peel back Michael’s layers and understand his motivations for his rage. The whole film is a great character study and puts audiences in more of a cerebral state while watching the film.
The pacing of Halloween kept the intensity and uneasiness running rampant throughout its runtime while introducing new characters and scenarios that felt very natural. It wasn’t a paint by numbers remake that will leave audience members feeling disappointed. David Gordon Green and Danny McBride do a great job of inserting moments of humor and levity into scenes flawlessly that will leave viewers laughing at various points.
And can we mention John Carpenter’s influence on this film? The film’s score harkened back to the original Halloween perfectly. The creepy and jarring music will bring fans of the original Halloween right back into the swing of things.
Though there wasn’t much to dislike in Halloween, there are some things that stuck out. Dr. Sartain was a bit of an over the top character that felt a little off. His character’s twist in the third act was pretty cool, but his overall character didn’t seem to mesh with the rest of the cast.
The plot did start out seeming like it would use certain horror tropes like teenagers having sex, drinking, using drugs and getting into trouble, but thankfully this element wasn’t too present in Halloween. While it does seem like a cliché for Michael to escape and return on Halloween night, it’s also what makes the film and franchise what it’s supposed to be. Sure, there were some forgettable characters and story arcs here and there, but every good slasher needs cannon fodder.
While seeing Michael in action was a lot of fun, it also seemed to take away from his mystique. Michael could have done more with less screen time, as his constant threat doesn’t call for him physically being present. However, no one should complain too much about seeing the main villain as much as possible.
Halloween did a great job of bridging the gap between the original 1978 film and the modern-day take. It was a lot of fun seeing Laurie kicking ass and channeling her inner Michael Myers, as she becomes the predator at times throughout the film. The call backs and references to the original film were perfectly placed for those of us that have seen it but aren’t so overwhelming for new viewers who haven’t.
Hats off to David Gordon Green & Co. for updating the story for new fans while paying things off for older fans. If you’re itching to get your horror fix this Halloween season, go check out this film.