Movie Review: "Halloween" (2018)
Eight films in the original canon. Two films by controversial visionary filmmaker Rob Zombie. More bodies than anyone (except maybe Jason Vorhees). A staggering legacy of having “created” the slasher genre (not entirely true) or at least having lit the fire that made slasher films the bread and butter of the 1980’s. An iconic mask with a simple concept: kill.
Just kill. Kill for killing’s sake. Kill in violent and horrific ways. Kill as many as you can. Seek vengeance. Seek the one you have the psychic connection to. Seek the one that Thorn tells you to….wait, what the fuck is Thorn??!!
The point? I’m not entirely sure, to tell you the truth. There have been a cubic fuckton of actors and actresses involved in the Halloween series. The storylines have been wildly varied. There’s the original arc: Halloween and Halloween II. Then you have the much maligned (not to mention criminally underrated and hideously fun) Halloween III: Season of the Witch, a movie that didn’t have a goddamn thing to do with Michael Myers! Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and Halloween 5: The Curse of Michael Myers introduced genre legend Danielle Harris as Jamie Lloyd a.k.a. Michael Myers’ cousin (with whom he has a psychic link).
We don’t talk about Halloween: H20: 20 Years Later and Halloween: Resurrection. We just don’t. They’re that bad (even with the occasional good kill). Fuck you, Busta Rhymes. Just fuck off. I’ve literally never been happier to see a motherfucker die (with the exception of Paris Hilton in the House of Wax remake).
Then came the Rob Zombie remakes, Halloween and Halloween II. I will, for the sake of full disclosure, admit that I am an utter mark for Zombie’s work. However, I am also an unbiased critic of the highest order, and if it’s shit I’ll call it a turd. Luckily, Zombie put out one fantastic version of the Myers story and one perplexing entry that is the textbook example of being dedicated to telling a story that is entirely your own. You must give it to Rob Zombie: he doesn’t compromise, love him or hate him. You have to admire that. He created the “trailer park trash” version of Halloween with sleazy style points to spare.
All of that preamble brings us to the newest entry, director David Gordon Green’s (Pineapple Express) “requel”. For setup purposes, understand that this entry into the series treats literally every film EXCEPT THE FIRST ONE as if they don’t exist. Get the fuck out of here, #’s 2-10!
You can do that nowadays…it’s okay. Suspend that disbelief and take the ride. You have permission.
It’s been 40 years since that fateful Halloween night in 1978, and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis; Halloween series, Trading Places) is a reclusive loony living on the outskirts of civilization in a compound of epic proportions. Her daughter, Karen (Judy Greer; 13 Going on 30), is almost completely estranged from her. Her granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak; shortlived ABC series 666 Park Avenue), wants more of a relationship with her misunderstood grandmother. Unfortunately for the family, a podcaster and his assistant have visited the infamous Smith’s Grove Sanitarium and awoken The Shape (stuntman James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle; Michael from the original Halloween). Michael Myers escapes a bus crash during an ill-timed prison transfer and returns to Haddonfield with murder and vengeance on his mind.
Sure, it’s a simple plot. That’s not an issue. Why should it be a major sticking point? Green (and co-writer Danny McBride) are huge fans of the original. They set out to make a good, old-fashioned slasher film that feels like a true Halloween film, and they succeeded in virtually every respect. The body count is high. The kills are creative, violent as fuck, and appropriately gory. The kills are actually much more visceral than the original, but it is 2018. If anything, I felt that the kills were a small nod to Zombie and his reinvigorating of the Myers mythos in their graphic nature.
Make no mistake about it, though- this is Jamie Lee Curtis’ movie. She embodies the character of Laurie Strode and the spirit of the entire series in a thoroughly badass way. However, she is also unbelievably human. She’s screwed up her daughter’s life. She’s seen as a lunatic. She’s a local pop-culture legend. She’s the titular final girl.
She gets to show her range in a slasher flick, which is no small feat. The debut issue of the new Fangoria quoted Curtis as saying “she’s the Loomis of this movie”…she couldn’t be more correct. It’s note-perfect. I doubt there will ever be a more perfect scream queen and heroine than Jamie Lee Curtis. I know there will never be another actress who wears her horror heritage on her sleeve like a badge of honor. Thank you for everything you’ve done for the genre!
Greer and Matichak are welcome additions to the canon. They both steal their scenes and finish in bad bitch fashion with highly believable mother-daughter chemistry. People will say that horror movies don’t have any really good acting; don’t believe them. These two kill it. Also, it was a breath of fresh air to see veteran actor Will Patton in the role of Officer Hawkins. I just love that guy.
And that score? It’s perfect in the literal sense of the word. John Carpenter came back as Executive Producer and put out a retooled score. The music will get you there if nothing else will.
With that being said, it’s not a perfect film. There’s a moment in the middle where Michael’s psychiatrist, Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer; Ben-Hur) does some crazy shit that totally breaks the tone of the movie at the time. You’ll see what I mean. I kind of get where they may have been trying to go with it (i.e. the pervasive nature of evil), but it felt totally out of place.
Still, the point is very simple: this felt 1000% like a true Halloween film. Sometimes all you really need is that vibe to be spot-on. The newest installment in the venerable series delivers that in spades, and I couldn’t be happier, naysayers be damned!