Back in 1978, John Carpenter released Halloween, a horror movie which terrified audiences and forever changed the genre. It didn’t need gore or jump scares to work, with Carpenter’s film mastering terror and dread through atmosphere, suspense and one of the most legendary horror icons of all time: Michael Myers. The film was a hit with both critics and audiences, so much so that a whopping nine further movies have been made within the franchise, including a reboot.
However for 2018’s re-imagining, Producer Jason Blum and Director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) are asking viewers to completely forget all the preceding nine movies, creating this as a direct-sequel to the ’78 original. Jason Blum is the founder of Blumhouse, easily one of the most in-form production companies in the game right now, producing and overseeing recent hits such as Get Out, Split and Happy Death Day. The perfect choice to help rejuvenate this worn out franchise.
After 40 years in a mental asylum, silent killer Michael Myers breaks loose and returns to Haddonfield. After being the sole survivor of the previous massacre, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is ready for him, determined no longer to be a victim.
2018’s Halloween is a much needed return to form for the franchise, but it rarely matches the excellence of the original. There are glimpses here of a classic horror in the making, an action-packed romp with a strong female lead but is let down by a silly story and too many pointless characters.
From the off, the film’s storyline feels rushed and dopey, with the two journalists the film initially focuses on being quite hard to take seriously as their actions are nonsensical. It’s a rough start, one which I struggled to get on board with, even more so when the focus switches to Strode’s high school granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). Her storyline also felt flat, seemingly only there to introduce more characters for our villain to lay his hands on.
Then comes Michael Myers. As soon as we see a young boy and his father have located the crashed bus and discover Michael missing, all hell breaks loose. My worry going in was is there going to be enough action? (Myers killed just 5 people in the original) but the kill count is high, each death topping the last for brutality. Every scene with him gets the blood pumping and elevates the film.
Fundamentally, it is the script that lets Halloween down. Co-written by Director Green (who does much better behind the camera than on writing duty) along with Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley, the film includes multiple attempts at humour and the results are rather mixed. McBride is a hilarious actor and also wrote all 29 episodes of the hugely underrated Eastbound & Down, but here the jokes barely land and the dialogue is coming from too many one-dimensional and forgettable characters we simply do not care about.
However, the character they do understand and get right is Curtis’ Laurie Strode. They have handled her role surprisingly well, giving Strode a strong backstory and character development. Curtis backs up her work in the original with a performance of awesome intensity. Her relationship with her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) is surprisingly well written and both actresses are terrific during the third act.
Overall, the film excels when Myers graces the screen and torments the innocent, but it isn’t actually as funny or as scary as the filmmakers think it is. A fun ride, with plenty of call-backs and references, but a stronger script was needed in order for this to be truly great. Nevertheless, it’s the best entry in the franchise since the first.
Verdict: Inconsistent but always entertaining, the flaws are obvious but Jamie Lee Curtis is outstanding and the film solidifies Michael Myers as the greatest bogeyman of all time.
Best Moment: A glorious one shot finishes with the camera sitting perfectly still with a mum on the phone and Michael heading to the back door…