As a dedicated horror fanatic who holds John Carpenter’s Halloween from ’78 high in regards, I eagerly awaited the Blumhouse release with great anticipation. And I knew I wasn’t alone as this upcoming installment, Halloween 2018 sparked exciting conversation among all horror loving freaks and geeks. With John Carpenter returning to the franchise as Executive Producer, Jamie Lee Curtis reprising her iconic role and Nick Castle once more donning the Myers’ mask as The Shape, this was sure to make horror history. Was it worth the wait? More importantly, did the film make its mark as one for the books? Or did it miss entirely? I believe the answer lays somewhere in between.
Ignoring the events from every sequel within the franchise, Halloween 2018 serves as a direct sequel to the ’78 original. Forty years after the horrific babysitter murders of Haddonfield, infamous killer, Michael Myers (Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney), lives in silent incarceration where he has been since his capture the night of his killing spree four decades prior. Meanwhile, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) remains haunted by traumatic memories from the night she survived Myers’ Halloween of terror.
Obsessed and paranoid, Laurie has spent her life preparing for Myers’ return, which has alienated her from her daughter, Karen (Judy Greer, Ant-Man, Jurassic World), and her granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak, Orange is the New Black). It appears Laurie’s elaborate doomsday preparation may have been for nothing. Then it is announced that Myers is being transferred to another facility. After Myers escapes during transit, Laurie must face one final showdown with The Shape that has plagued her existence for 40 years.
Admittedly, I held high expectations for Halloween 2018. I typically avoid setting any expectations prior to screening a film and enter with an open mind. However, with an epic trailer, original names attached to the project and major hype surrounding the feature, I found this to be incredibly difficult. Especially as someone who is as passionate about the original masterpiece as Michael is about not dying, my hopes were high to say the least.
Soon after the opening scene depicted so perfectly in the trailer, the pacing of the film began to fall apart with disjointed scene transitions. Perhaps due the wide spread focus of three Strode women, most scenes felt fragmented bouncing from one Strode generation to another and back to Michael Myers. There is a particular filmmaking flow that was missing or simply lost. This almost gave the feeling of the shell game being performed by a street magician or con artist when searching for a steady plot development. Keep your eye on the plot! Where’s the plot!? Find the Plot! Where’s the plot!? However, whereas many street performers use sleight of hand with nothing hiding under the shell, cup or thimble, there is a plot within Halloween 2018. There are just plenty of distractions along the way.
One distraction is the misplaced comedy. When fans of the franchise first learned that Danny McBride (Pineapple Express, This is the End, Tropic Thunder) was assisting in writing the script for Halloween 2018, there were plenty of questions and concerns. This was immediately addressed by the comedy actor stating that the film’s director, David Gordon Green, and himself are horror fans who want to take things back to the simplistic terror of the original (an Arrow in the Head news article you can revisit here). This matter was seemingly laid to rest with John Carpenter’s stamp of approval of the script. With such a big announcement, I’m sure I was not the only one to shelve my dread that comedy would be included in a film meant to be such a homage to the original. However, it appears McBride couldn’t resist putting his own stamp within the film. The comedy was great! It had the theater roar with laughter and giggles at the intended scenes. And therein lies the problem. Although a particular scene sequence was cute, I do not watch serious horror for laughter. That reaction is reserved for comedic horror, cheesy B-movies and other films intended for much more lightheartedness. Not films about a heartless, soulless killer out for blood.
Aside from unnecessarily comedy, I found one particular character to be slightly annoying to no fault of the actor. Seemingly written as a whiny, useless gap between two primary characters, this dramatis personae would have likely served the film better by dying early thereby correcting the pacing issue and narrowing the film’s focus. Some people may say that I’m over analyzing, but I cannot help but think of how much more potential this film could attained been by one simple, specific death.
Much like Michael’s weapon of chose, Halloween 2018 fell dull and flat on one end while remaining sharp and deadly on the other. The entire cast lineup were outstanding. Even the individual who portrayed the annoying, useless character was not bad. However, stealing the screen was Jamie Lee Curtis. Portraying an obsessed and paranoid badass resembling doomsday prepper Sarah Connor from Terminator 2, Curtis does a 180 with Laurie Strode’s character. However, she does so without losing what has made this final girl iconic over the years. Though it took four decades, Curtis’ followup performance is just as memorable as Linda Hamilton transitioning from the original Terminator to the sequel.
Matching Curtis scene for scene is Nick Castle as The Shape. I’m sure I was not the only one curious to know if Castle would be the only one depicting Michael Myers due to age and possible limitations. After all, they could put anyone in the suit and mask just as they did in several scenes of the ’78 original. Helping Castle do some heavy lifting is stunt actor James Jude Courtney. Together, Castle and Courtney flawlessly bring Michael back to the big screen portraying him as a wrecking ball and a force of soulless evil driven by nothing but the urge to shed merciless blood.
What some casual fans may not have caught was the fact that Michael Myers was not revealed to be Laurie Strode’s brother until the original Halloween 2 from 1981. Because Halloween 2018 disregards all followups to the very first of the franchise, Michael and Laurie are not siblings. In a sense, this makes Michael that much more frightening just because his killings are all random without rhyme, reason or motive. Unlike any other Halloween followup, there is a certain primal predator and prey angle taken, which I honestly to admire.
Though Michael’s return to the big screen lacked a certain creepy stalker element, which hindered the suspense behind the abrupt kill scenes, he remains an unstoppable force. Though you were not on the edge of your seat, which was disappointing, the kills were much more brutal than expected without going too far over the top as seen in Rob Zombie’s remakes. This added a certain terrifying element not too far past the stretch of imagination of the horrendous acts of which a psychopath might be capable.
Adding to these true-to-life elements of horror, there are fun reminiscent moments in the form of multiple clever Easter eggs sprinkled throughout the film. Though Halloween 2018 disregards everything after the original, it still works in subtle nostalgic homages that do not seem too forced. Some may be more intended than others, but make no mistake. Attention to detail is there and it will likely take more than one viewing for the most dedicated fan of the franchise to spot them all. Whether it be an eye damaged from a coat hanger, a kill scene, a throwback to Michael retrieving a kitchen knife and a familiar looking doll house to a stalkerish classroom scene, the Shamrock masks, a ghost sheet and much more, there is plenty to explore for any devout fan of the franchise.
Serving as the icing on the Halloween cake is John Carpenter’s score. Much like this master of horror did with his original, Carpenter captured every moment in beautifully demented music. Scored in such a subtle way, this music elaborates from the Halloween theme we all know so well adding a layer of suspense that could not have been captured any other way. To many, this will likely go unnoticed while adding a certain level of excitement of anticipation. It is something you specifically need to pick out and to which you need to pay special attention. As with many other great films, this type of music is startlingly noticed if viewed without.
Though it fell incredibly short of my personal expectations, Halloween 2018 is still a worthy addition to the franchise. There is much to love and much to hate all rolled into a glorious effort. Whether they are dedicated franchise fans or passive moviegoers, this one is sure be one of the most polarized films of the year. However, with box office breaking numbers, we could see a trend of direct sequels of horror classics. There are several on my list that I would love to see this happen with including titles such as Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and something many fans have been waiting for, Beetlejuice!