“Happy Halloween, Michael.”
Well, it’s that time once again. Halloween, the day that we continue to ever build up towards with ever October Horror, and the day that fills me with a lot of excitement. It is also the time that I go back to a series that is somehow still alive despite being killed of so many times. It’s the franchise about a psychotic slasher whose entire on-screen history is convoluted and is about as insane as he is: I’m talking about Michael Myers, and the “Halloween” films. In the pat October Horrors I’ve gone through the first 3 films of the series. I found the first film to be a classic that worked effectively in using horror; the second film was a flawed, though entertaining sequel that muddied what was a simple story; and the third to be my favorite, and what would have been a welcoming change had it not been for audiences at the time. Through those films I’ve always made a joke on how I must review this films, not only for the namesake of the holiday but additionally as a series-long punching bag. To my knowledge there aren’t any other franchises that come to mind that has been rebooted and remade as much as Halloween, with attempts to wash away the bad sequels that seem more laughably disappointing than the bad sequels of any other horror franchise. However, while I’ve made jokes and certainly aired my disappointment before you all, it doesn’t mean I absolutely hate “Halloween”. Most of my comments outside the proper reviews is some fun on my part, and although I do have my disappointments toward the series it doesn’t take away from how hopeful I am towards it. Like I said, the first “Halloween” film is practically perfect, and while one the one hand I wished it had ended with just the first and went on with the anthology plan, I do hope for a great, satisfactory sequel that makes use of what the original made worked. Well, it seems “Halloween” 2018 is that very film.
The reboot/sequel to the original 1978 film, 2018’s “Halloween” is a welcomed attempt to both return the series to its roots while also wiping away all the unnecessary plot additions from 2 and onwards. Michael Myers has returned to his purest form: an emotionless, practically robotic killer who is almost animalistic in his hunt for victims to murder. Gone are his ties to any cults or familial connections with Laurie Strode, the latter topic even being mentioned and shut down as quickly as it is brought up in the actual movie. All Michael is now is just a killer, and while that may sound utterly simplistic, it is where the series was at its most strongest and horrific. Making him a mute, merciless killer returns the mystique to the character, more so than any idea of the supernatural ever could. However this isn’t just Michael’s film, as it is also Laurie Strode’s. As if to celebrate the return of the leading actress Jamie Lee Curtis for one more go, this film is very much Laurie’s, and her story is not only fascinating, but also depressing and yet at the same time triumphant. A lot of work and love is put into this film, and I think I and a lot of fans were hopeful to see where it goes. It’s clearly an attempt to truly end the series in a proper bang, but the question still stands: is it any good? Well here’s my review.
It’s been 40 years since that terrible night on Halloween, when Laurie Strode became the only survivor of Michael Myers’ killing spree. Ever since that night, Michael Myers has been locked away at an asylum; professor Loomis, Michael’s doctor, has passed away; and Laurie Strode has spent her life in fear, knowing that she can’t ever rest so long as Michael is still alive. The decades have been extremely unkind to Laurie: her daughter has distanced herself away from her mother for the years of paranoia and preparation for a boogeyman that never came; her story has faded away into a bad memory, and fewer people are kind towards her trauma; and she has essentially become a prison of her own fear, locking herself in a fortified home meant to keep away the same killer that hunted her so long ago. Now Michael Myers is being sent to a stronger, more secure prison, which would keep him locked up much better than the old asylum. However, as Halloween night approaches once more, a desire builds up in Michael. It’s time for his escape, and to once again inflict devastating terror upon the town of Haddonfield, Illinois. This time though, Laurie is ready. As much as the townsfolk dreaded for this day to ever happen, she has secretly hoped it would come; just so she may personally put the killer down for good.
I’d like to open up with what this film does best outside the horror, and that’s the character drama. A good portion of the film is focused on the drama surrounding Laurie Strode, her family, and her own personal issues. It’s at its purest form a story of trauma: how we deal with it, how others react to it, and how it deals with us in return. I found myself sympathetic and invested into Laurie’s personal issues, in how she pushed away her own daughter with her fears, and is unable to let go despite a part of her wanting desperately to do so. Jamie Lee Curtis’ performance is award-worthy, in my opinion. Her moments of weakness in revealing how she has let Michael ruin her life is tragic, and there are times when the film showcases her trauma so well. I especially enjoy how the film doesn’t absolutely vindicate her fears. While it’s easy to point at her character and say she’s been right from the beginning, the film does a great job in showing that while she is in need of care for her problems and is right in her preparedness against Michael, it is still in sacrifice of her own well-being, that of her daughter who was made almost as paranoid and sick as her mother, and how she has locked herself away from the world as an unfortunate consequence. Of course this tragedy serves the triumph, when Laurie is given a chance to act and to truly fight Michael. Just as you feel sad for what had happened to her, you also feel excited when she takes out her guns, her traps, and her wits to give the roaming killer a hard time to earn his kill. I love how aware she is of some horror tropes, and how she doesn’t waste time in calling out the idiocy of other character’s when they should know better. Additionally, I kept cheering at times when she read Michael’s mind, and played to any plans a slasher would use in any film. Laurie Strode is a badass character, who is also capable of being dramatic. She is what audiences want to be when they face a horror movie slasher, and it’s amazing.
Just as amazing is the horror, which like I said is a return to the roots of the original. Michael Myers comes off as genuinely brutal in this movie, and doesn’t go too far into the gratuitous shock of the Zombie remakes. The kills are (for the most part) is presented with as much realistic violence as possible, with a dark, serious tone that casts over a lot of the kills. He wrecks his victims in ways that get a strong reaction of horror, and what’s great is that the film shakes things up with being more subtle and quiet with some scenes. A couple of early kills are done completely in the background, almost difficult to spot yet still shocking when you do finally notice. There’s a long string of kills, backed by the classic tunes of the Halloween franchise, that feels straight out of the original in both tone, camera perspective, and editing. We also get one kill that has an immense amount of build-up, that almost has no music and is cleverly done through the use of porch lights automatically turning on and off to Michael’s movements. Whether they are homages to the original or completely new kills for this movie, they are the best in the series in terms of how scary they can be. There’s a couple for you gore-hounds looking for the most gruesomely awesome kills, but they aren’t the majority for this movie. I found the horror of this film to be truly great, and I think you can really get the feeling of the terror that Michael brings to Haddonfield.
Going into acting, it’s natural for a huge majority of characters though I think the writing can be poor for some. As I’ve said, Jamie Lee Curtis brings her S-game to this movie. She doesn’t just put a good performance, rather she is putting her best as an older, experienced Laurie Strode. Her drama is effective; her action is fantastic; and I would certainly consider this the last, great act for the character. She no longer is simply a victim, but a full character that is the clear lead alongside, and not under, Michael Myers. The family members for Laurie are great too, with some even shining above even my initial expectations. Judy Greer as Laurie’s daughter Karen is good, as someone who has some tragedy herself in how her childhood was essentially robbed by her mother’s paranoia, and how she’s fighting to at least give a normal life to her own family. While she plays a bit like the sympathetic mom character in a lot of old horror films, she makes some surprisingly great development as the film concludes. Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson, played by Andi Matichak, is almost the typical high school survivor character in a horror film, but she’s enjoyable in her care for Laurie, and how she deals with some issues going around her. Although I felt that her character was getting wasted during the movie’s conclusion, almost an opposite to Greer’s.
Michael gets a new doctor, played by Haluk Bilginer. He’s no Donald Pleasence, but he does quite well as the one man trying to understand Michael. Although he doesn’t have much of an appearance throughout the movie, his contribution is interesting to say the least without going into spoiler-territory. There’s also the sheriff hunting Michael (Will Patton), who is a good ally to Laurie and a character you can root for when he tries to stop the killer. You have plenty of other secondary characters and extras, who do a fine job with the performances they give.
Lastly there’s the slasher himself, Michael Myers, who is credited to have been played by James Jude Courtney, and a veteran from the 1978 original, Nick Castle. Myers is presented gloriously, with a darker edge that is kept grounded unlike the remake. He doesn’t utter a word, and is given this consistent presence of terror that gives his figure power. Even in the early scenes where he’s without a mask, you can still feel afraid with how unfeeling he is just by his stance and presentation alone. When he does finally get that mask, it’s both an amazing proper return of the character and a sign of terrible things to come. There’s very few moments where he’s shown to be weak, even at times where he’s on the losing end at the time. The filmmakers did their best to make the character as unmercifully evil and statue-esque in his behavior, and I feel that they did a perfect job.
The cinematography captures the mood amazingly, with both stable camera shots and hand-held, shifty movements. I like a lot of the shots in both the action-packed horror moments and the somber dramatic ones. The night is done quite nicely, which is very important for this movie; I feel like some scenes are fantastic looking, and make good use of shadow and lighting.
On another technical aspect, the effects are impressive and often times subtle. A lot of it is clearly done with practical effects, and the make-up/props are realistically presented for a majority of the movie’s runtime.
The music is both a welcome of the beloved classics and a good mixture of new tunes. I like the theme and how it’s utilized, and some of the dark themes that follow Michael around are effective in establishing suspense. It’s great that the movie isn’t bombarded with music from beginning to end, with plenty of silent scenes. The silence really adds to the horror moments, and for some in particular it’s extremely strong. It’s great, and I have no issues.
Speaking of issues, do I have any? Well, while I do enjoy a lot of the references made throughout the movie, I do feel that they get too numerous and blatand as the film starts to end. It’s great for a lot of it, but it gets a bit too awkward in some places. The scenes following Allyson is fine, and I do think that the teens do act genuinely like teens; however, I have groaned at some of the teenage drama that is shown, and wanted only for the horror to return again. When it’s a horror or an actual drama, the film is fantastic bordering on perfect; otherwise, it’s either ok, or not that interesting.
If I can’t make my thoughts any clearer, than here it is: “Halloween” 2018 is a fantastic film. It’s the best sequel we can ask for, and I think the perfect way to end for the entire series. I want this movie to be the conclusion to the Michael Myers story, with no chance at a remake or any further sequels. It’s so great that I genuinely want no more of it the franchise to be made, and I think that should say something. Go see it, you won’t be disappointed I assure you of that much.