“He’s waited for me. I waited for him.”
Released almost exactly 40 years after John Carpenter’s iconic original – and after ditching all of the loose consequences and false avenues of the intermittent films – 2018’s Halloween gives us something that reads as faintly familiar but with a new, modern interpretation. To completely disregard an entire anthology is as bold a move as I’ve seen in contemporary cinema, and although the results are divisive to say the least, this follow-up to the 1978 original honors a haunting, plodding, thrilling legacy while sparingly expanding upon its prospective future. This Halloween’s doorstep is worth stopping at, more so for treats than tricks, and although it’s been exceptionally made, the film doesn’t do enough to stand out from the rest of the cannon. It’s the exact same story told through a different, more focused lens.
Laurie Strode (Jamie Less Curtis), now a long-term survivor experiencing PTSD, has learned invaluable skills and has transformed her home into an all-in-one fortress/trap. She spends her days shooting guns and plotting and awaiting the inevitable return of Michael Myers. Michael has been studied in isolation, and he’s quite the intimidating, battered, monolithic figure. So monstrous in his shape, like an enormous puppet who speaks through desperate carnage, and boy does his physicality enrich the Halloween starts slowly and tightly, the filmmaker’s camera sits so close that we can barely make out every movement or shot, and I think that’s because the film wants to engage us on a visceral, personal level before its becomes intimate or psychological. We aren’t scared by what we see; we’re terrified by the possibility of terror. The imagination, when triggered, can create better, more honest monsters than any great filmmaker could ever vilify.
It’s Halloween night. The bus transporting Michael and a dozen other mental patients dives into a ditch. We don’t need to see how this happened to affirm our assumptions, entirely because the legend preceding “The Shape” and the following scenes give us depth. It’s at this point that Michael begins his hunt. Laurie’s daughter Karen (Judy Greer) is fed up with her mother’s agoraphobia, and Karen’s only child Allyson (Andi Matichak) runs around the streets in pursuit of survival, navigating the distrust of powerful men and perilous acquaintances.
Few things about Halloween floored me besides John Carpenter’s revisionist, modern take on his own classic score. The plot is fairly rehashed and routine; I imagine all mass-murderers stick to some type of script, and this film abides by such a notion. Additionally, the homages to Carpenter’s original help and hurt this spiritual sequel in equal measure. In 2018, Halloween is meant to be funny and seductive and subversive, and yet this picture – directed by David Gordon Green (a filmmaker who defies genre limitations) and co-written by Danny McBride – speaks directly to the trauma and the horrors of femininity. How the actions of men can haunt and linger multiple generations they beset. And how best of all – despite the film’s tonal issues – we’re able to watch strong women transcend the vulnerable “final girl” stereotype because here they are capable, confident, and courageous enough not only to stare their worst enemy down, but to confront a life lived outside of a nightmare.
“He only knows how to keep moving and keep killing.”
Rating: 3 out of 5