With the recent trailer release for the forthcoming Halloween Kills, I thought I would bring back my review on Halloween (2018). This is not only because I am eager to cash in by hanging onto the coattails of this franchise but also more importantly, I am lazy.
But this article is a true slice in time. I had just turned 40 and so did Halloween. Oh, and Van Halen’s first album was 40 years old as well. But unfortunately, there was no Van Halenween crossover, and this is regrettable.
Also, please be aware that this post was originally written not knowing that there would be a sequel or two coming. As you will read, I was/am against a sequel in principle. While I hope that Halloween Kills is good, who can tell with this convoluted series? Thank heavens that at least they didn’t name their sequel Halloween II, because I don’t think I could take a third movie with that title. Anyway, enjoy!
40 years old. There’s no escaping it. When 2018 came, it was only inevitable that those of us born in the year one thousand nine hundred and seventy-eight would end up being aged two score at some point. Given all the horrendous bloodshed that went on with the Julian and Gregorian calendars battling it out in a cage grudge match, it is a wonder we can agree upon anything being any length of time at all. Even then, the calendar is fluid. For instance, now that Christmas starts the day after Christmas, I’ve decided to return gifts before I’ve bought them just to save time.
I always knew this day would come. I didn’t realize it back during my flannel-wearing, Pearl Jam-blasting, long-haired past, but I know now. If I could only talk to that kid. “Hey, stop rolling up your jeans, you doorknob! Befriend a guy named Bezos right now. Go, you fool! Go!!! Oh, and savor each Arch Deluxe while you still can. Trust me on that one.”
But above all else, 2018 is also the 40th anniversary year for a great many movies. Here’s a list of favorite films also becoming middle aged this year: National Lampoon’s Animal House, Superman, Every Which Way But Loose (don’t judge me!), Revenge of the Pink Panther, Piranha, Jaws 2 (it is better than you remember), and Dawn of the Dead. Some people might love Grease, but I am not counted in their number. Same goes for The Deer Hunter, which frankly could have used more Travolta in it to lighten the mood a tad.
Given the season and time of year, there’s another film that turns 40 this year. A true horror film, with incredible atmosphere for an immersive experience. Of course, I could only be referencing one motion picture: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. No, not really! Although it is rather terrifying while also sporting a good soundtrack, Sgt. Pepper is certainly no Halloween.
What better way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Halloween than with yet another entry in that much beleaguered franchise! Trying to explain the continuity amidst all the sequels, reboots with their own sequels, and even an entry that has nothing to do with any of the other movies would require flowcharts, pie graphs, several years of trigonometry, a fattened calf, a sprig of juniper berries, and more prayer than even a die-hard Trappist monk could provide.
Thankfully, one only truly needs to see the 1978 original film to then jump in with this new Halloween. Ye gods, this is the third movie in this franchise with the title of Halloween. And I’m not going to differentiate these flicks by sticking the release year behind it. That’s lazy. So, going forward in this recap of a review of a retelling, I’m going to steal an idea from only twenty years ago and refer to this latest Halloween entry as H40. (I hope Jamie Lee Curtis continues her trend of doing Halloween movies every 20 years. 2038’s H60 will be awesome!)
Like some of my other reviews, I’m going to be bouncing all over the place, without any care of rhyme or reason or chronology in a simply frustrating manner. I will at least try to maintain a balance by alternating between items I enjoyed and items I didn’t. Also, beware that this post will have the blackest eyes, the devil’s eyes when it comes to spoilers. But like Michael Myers, I just don’t care so get out of my way. Without any further delay, let’s crash that bus full of inmates from the local asylum and get this party started!
- Jamie Lee Curtis is a dream for this franchise. She always brings her A-game and lends the proceedings some real dignity. By the way, this is her fifth appearance in a Halloween movie and we are most thankful. Having already played Laurie Strode as a survivor in 1998’s Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later, I was eager to see what she would do differently with the same role in H40. This time, she plays Laurie as being prepared but tortured and paranoid. Kind of like Burt Gummer from Tremors, but sad. Her having a daughter and a granddaughter only ups her stakes when dealing with Michael Myers and JLC gives a strong performance all around. The only complaint I have is with the script, because I think the movie slackens when not focused on her. Still, when she’s onscreen, I’m completely in.
- However, I think the script has her doing some rather stupid things in the light of the established character. She obviously takes the approach that Dr. Loomis used at the end of the original film: shoot Michael Myers until you run out of bullets. She should want to blow him away at any given moment, given the arsenal she’s collected. Instead, when Laurie’s trapped him in her basement safe room and sets everything on fire, she doesn’t seal the deal by giving Myers one right between the eyes. Instead, Myers will probably struggle out by some convoluted James Bondian means and wreak bloody havoc once more. This is where H20 succeeds: the awesome satisfaction of watching Laurie Strode definitively taking Michael Myers out. Granted Halloween: Resurrection then ruined all of that and then we ended up with those Rob Zombie movies, so maybe I’ll just shut up now before I make it worse.
- As a final note to those flat-out wankers giving whiny grief over Laurie being armed to the teeth in dealing with Michael Myers: I believe that it has been established that Mikey cannot be reasoned with or rehabilitated. Laurie never wants her daughter or granddaughter to experience the harm and danger she did. She will do whatever she has to do to end Michael Myers. Laurie is a survivor and shows strength beyond having a gun in her hand. Still, she’s not afraid of defending herself when Myers comes calling or going on the offensive if he might harm others. In whatever idiotic noise the more social justicey souls among us crow about this, they gloss over the fact that here in this film is a headlining strong female role. Of course, I do sympathize and have my own gripe about guns in H40: Laurie should have been packing a larger caliber.
- Not one single person is killed by Michael Myers in this film while they have their faces buried in a phone. Not. One. Um, really? This is H40’s biggest leap of faith. In real life, scrolling addicts accidentally fall off bridges and get hit by trains as they refresh their screens. But everyone in this film manages to keep their mugs away from their screens for an extended period of time?! I call shenanigans and utter bollocks on that! After Michael Myers breaks out, I would have enjoyed seeing him not believe his luck as he wiped out entire generations in Haddonfield who couldn’t be bothered to look up from their iPhones. Hell, they could have even been Instagramming a tweet to Facebook as they texted about this dude in a white mask killing them. That’s the appealing thing about Luddite Michael: he gets his job done with nothing but hard work, some overalls, and an unbelievably huge kitchen knife.
- The score is quite good because thankfully John Carpenter is back to provide it. Carpenter always has had good soundtracks and his latest musical ventures have been extraordinarily well done. Pop in either of his first two albums and it feels like you are smack dab in the middle of a Carpenter movie, ominous and atmospheric. Also, just seeing John Carpenter’s name on a movie in any capacity beyond a “Based on Characters Created By” credit is great. Now if they only had him direct it…
- Sorry if by this point I don’t sound all that passionate about the points I’m bringing up. I truly wish I either loved or hated this film but I’m lukewarm with H40 overall. I didn’t walk out in a confused rage like I did leaving Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers and I didn’t leave with a feeling of “Whoa! Sweet!” like I did after H20. Is it sad that the first thought I had when I left the theater was that the funnel cake sticks from the theater bistro were top notch yet again? Is it even sadder that my bar for this franchise is so low that I still consider this to be the best of the Michael Myers sequels since the original Halloween II? Is it the most sadderest that there are two movies named Halloween II in this franchise? Argh.
- I was glad when I saw the Silver Shamrock masks from Halloween III: Season of the Witch on some Haddonfield trick-or-treaters. Of course, I immediately wanted to hear that commercial earworm but it did not make an appearance. Just to hear Michael Myers at the very least humming that jingle would have been a delightful touch!
- The British investigative bloggernalists that help to instigate this entire murder spree did their plot device job well: get Mike his mask. Still, seeing that scarf wearing, not-Kenneth Branaugh guy getting whacked in the ladies’ room was nifty. At this point, I must ask Mr. Myers, “Why the bloody teeth-dropping in the stall, Mikey? Did those bloggers make fun of your dentures and this was playfully poetic?” Truthfully, I was finishing up my chicken tenders in the theater, so I might have missed some kind of dental interaction at the asylum whilst I was dredging up the last of my honey mustard. Bottom line: those characters unquestionably showed an indisputable truth: bloggers are just the worst. Wait a minute…
- Michael Myers is back as a scary presence and not just a brute force. He returns to his boogeyman roots and overall, it works, even though we see waaaaay too much of him. Having Nick Castle back as The Shape onscreen was a good choice. However, this is a film that loves coincidences that strip Michael of his M.O. of stalking his prey. Mike stumbles on the bloggers so he can track them down later to kill them. Mike stumbles upon Laurie Strode in Haddonfield. Mike stumbles upon Laurie’s granddaughter and doesn’t even know who she is at first. Through a plot twist ex machina, Mike stumbles ultimately on Laurie’s compound. So either Mike is clumsy or he got a copy of the script while at the asylum.
- Unlike the original, which this movie is doing its damnedest to emulate for the first 2/3rds of the running time, Michael Myers isn’t building suspense by observing potential victims for an extended period. He comes right out of the gate as being violent and starts to slash through people without any nuance throughout. The amount of random people that we have no investment in on our part that get annihilated is rather large for a Michael Myers movie. Sure, his gruesome practical prank skills come back: a hollowed-out skull jack-o’-lantern, using a sheet ghost costume to cover a victim, hiding out in the closet for a babysitter. However, this only betrays the fact that Michael is a usually meticulous character. Having him gliding through houses killing unknown people left and right is disingenuous. Think about it this way: if Michael supposedly waited 40 years to get fired up again, I don’t think he’d be this reckless with time management.
- I’ve missed the late Donald Pleasance for years. He was the glue for the five Halloween entries he starred in. He was the only real reason to ever watch Part 6. That is high praise indeed. Seeing Pleasance’s Dr. Loomis running around with a .357, sermonizing about the pure evil of Myers just brings a smile to my face as I type this. Conversely, the new doctor character in H40 leaves much to be desired. Beyond the Boris Badenov accent, the only thing I remember is that his character is named Dr. Enabler Von Plotwist. I can understand that the filmmakers wanted to shake it up a bit when it came to scenes where the doctor and the police roam the streets looking for Myers. However, this ultimately came at the expense of Will Patton, who was a new character that I liked. Patton could’ve taken the Doc Loomis reins going forward if there was sequel intent. He and Jamie Lee would have been a good team, but it didn’t happen because of Dr. Storyline Contrivance.
- I don’t mind the idea of the doctor character being a jagoff that wants to see Myers in action. But just giving him some quick patchwork lines about how he helped the “apex predator” escape, doesn’t help me reconcile this shift. If they had given Doc a few additional lines about how he ensured that the bloggers would rile Myers up and other various unnoticed “assists” along the way, I can go with that a bit more. But…nope. I could forgive it if he said that he helped Myers escape just so he could emulate Dr. Loomis, making a name for himself by re-catching Myers. But…nope. Perhaps if they had cast a name who is typically known for good guy roles, it would have sealed the deal. Instead of “Random Middle European-Accented Guy”, go get someone like James Brolin or Michael Gambon. Hell, I’d even get Dan Aykroyd and have a partial Trading Places reunion with Jamie Lee Curtis. But…nope. As it was, I couldn’t wait for Mikey to make a splash with Doc Schmuckenstein’s noggin. So, if the goal was to get an audience to root for Michael Myers, then congrats are in order.
- I liked the backyard motion light image of Michael Myers getting closer to a victim with each flash of the floodlights coming on. Too bad that neato visual was wasted on killing a character I didn’t really like or hate. I am being way too hard on this movie, aren’t I? Yeesh. All right, fine. I like the callback in the intro titles with the rejuvenated pumpkin imagery. I like the switcheroo when Laurie went over the balcony but was gone when Michael looked over. To that end, I liked it when Laurie’s face comes out of the shadows to surprise Mikey. I just wish there were more of these touches throughout.
At the end of the day, that’s what makes this film so frustrating. It was obviously conceptualized with love. There’s no question there. Having the involvement of both Jamie Lee Curtis and John Carpenter was certainly a coup that spoke volumes to the fans. This film certainly made up for the Rob Zombie movies as well as most of the other sequels in this franchise. I am not being facetious when I say that for my money, H40 ranks as one of the best Michael Myers entries in the series. While those kudos seemingly don’t go far given some of the very low rungs this franchise ladder has had over the past 40 years, I truly think there were some good ideas for this movie.
But I still feel disappointed. Granted, some of that surely rests on my unrealistic expectation levels. While certain touches were nice, some of the plot ideas seemed to be reworked from other sequels. The idea of someone supporting Michael Myers in his work was in a bit of Halloween 5 and all of Part 6. I’ve already seen Laurie Strode have her ultimate revenge on Michael Myers in H20. Halloween 4 showed how mentioning a family member jolts Michael out of his catatonia. I understand it is a fine line between loving homage and bland rehash and while H40 scores better throughout, it just wasn’t enough for me.
If this film ends up being a send-off for Michael Myers, then he certainly went out on a higher note than he did in 2009. And 2007. And 2002. And I’ll stop there. While some other fans might want a sequel from H40, I don’t and I like this franchise. This entry hit enough good notes. Let’s not spoil the mood with yet another sequel because the odds are not in their favor. Laurie and Michael made it to 40 and so have I. I think we’ve all earned a rest from one good scare.
Now on the other hand, if we can get Jason Voorhees back on cinema screens…