Jason Vorhees, Leatherface, Freddy Kruger, Chucky, Ghostface and of course, Michael Myers. Six of horror’s most iconic slasher villains, but only one of them got a movie released this October. Could it be too much for Kyrios to handle? Could this be the end for Energized and Salty?
Whazzup fellas! If you haven’t already noticed, leaves are falling from trees and the Halloween season is finally getting kicked up into full gear. So, to celebrate, I’ve decided to watch and review the latest installment in the Halloween franchise. This is the first time seeing any of the iconic horror villains on the big screen, and Michael Myers couldn’t have been a better choice. He’s a lot more low-key compared to the other villains, who tend to prefer killing their victims in over the top and sometimes humorous ways. Michael’s killing methods aren’t actually very different from the way your average serial killer tends to kill, and therefore the focus of his movies (at least the good ones) are more on building tension than showcasing exaggerated fatalities. John Carpenter’s 1978 classic was a testament to how suspenseful a slasher flick could get with creative uses of camerawork and music.
Fun fact: I can actually see Michael Myers staring at me from outside my window right now. That’s why I’m hiding inside my room while I’m typing all of this down. I’m pretty sure my door is bolted lock, so I don’t think I’ll be in trouble anytime soon.
So, before I jump into this review, I’d like to specify one thing. Halloween 2018 is a sequel to the original 1978 film. That means that Halloween 2 and all the sequels following it aren’t canon. So, all you need to have watched prior to this film is the first in the franchise. Even if you haven’t watched it (but you really should, it’s a classic for a reason), then no worries, for the 2018 sequel does explain a few things to get viewers on track with its plot. I know, its super confusing. They should have labelled this: Halloween 2 or something like that again. Because judging from the title, it could have just been another remake. I mean, there have now been three films titled “Halloween,” and they’re all part of the same franchise! Unbelievable!
So, the main storyline of this centres once again on Laurie Strode. Paranoid from her experience and determined to seek vengeance against the nigh unstoppable killer, Laurie booby traps her home and exposes her daughter, Karen, to years of training in preparation for his release. Her daughter, now all grown up and with a daughter and a loving husband, decides she doesn’t want any of this and desires nothing more than to provide for her family. However, Michael makes a miraculous escape from solitary confinement and pursues Laurie and her kin, once again committing murder and causing mayhem in a quaint suburban neighborhood.
What I adored the most about this film is how it effortlessly shows you the consequences of the first film, particularly from a psychological standpoint. Laurie’s previous encounter with Michael had left her traumatized and in a frantic state of extreme paranoia. She basically spends her entire days preparing for her next meeting with the serial killer. There’s nothing else on her mind other than she wants him slaughtered. She even prays every night for his eventual escape. Yes, she’s that distraught by it all. And I couldn’t her, I mean he technically killed every single one of her friends back in the day and was responsible for changing her life for the worse. So now we have this grittier, no-nonsense version of Laurie; gone is her innocent, somewhat dorky demeanor from before. And to add insult to injury, her problems also extend to the rest of her family, Karen being the most prime example. Raised from birth to prepare herself for Michael’s return, Karen was taught throughout her entire childhood how to accurately shoot guns, cope with darkness and set traps and security systems for safety precautions. Her childhood was ruined as she spent most of it training for that one fateful encounter.
The film has many, and I mean many callbacks to the original. From the title sequence, to the music, to even some of the shots, it’s made clear that director David Gordon Green wanted to make this as a tribute to John Carpenter’s classic. Even then, he isn’t afraid to add his own little touches to them, making them appear more modern. In the intro for instance, rather than just have a lit pumpkin positioned in a black void while the opening credits appear in bright orange, the pumpkin is shown in pieces from the first second and slowly regenerates as the sequence plays. The iconic theme song also gets its own makeover; an updated, improved rendition with the same haunting tune kept intact. Even the sound cues from the original that reveal Michael’s existence are taken advantage of here and used effectively. The film even retains some of the original’s use of tracking shots, as shown when Michael first stumbles in to the neighborhood.
Hmmm, what’s that sound? Could have sworn that’s the sound of my front door being wrenched open. Meh, probably one of my roommates, at least one of them often gets home this late.
While I’ve touched upon the good parts of this, its now time to veer into the bad. This film basically doesn’t do anything different to change up the slasher formula, or even the Halloween franchise for that matter. In fact, it’s almost a complete repeat of the first film, except with a couple of new elements and such. And what I mean by that is that several events remain the same, except with different characters partaking in them. Michael escapes confinement in a similar manner (this time in a prison bus rather than a police cruiser), Laurie assumes the role of Dr. Loomis in the sense that they’re both after the killer, Allyson basically fills in the shoes of Laurie from the 1978 film, her friend Vicky acts as a babysitter (similar to Laurie’s role from the first movie), Vicky also assumes the role of Annie (with Dave as her boyfriend, similar to how Paul was Annie’s), and there’s even a doctor, Dr. Sartain, who acts exactly like Loomis.
There are also a couple of aspects of the film that make no sense in context. For one, when Michael makes his escape via convoy, he doesn’t bother to murder any of the occupants from the mental institution. Instead, he just leaves them hobbling confused and bewildered into the distance. But somehow, he’s willing to murder an innocent child and his father as part of his killing spree. Why didn’t he kill them too if he had the time to murder those two? The writers also try to create some sort of a twist for Sartain as a character (presumably to separate him from his counterpart), but it just comes across as forced in the end. There’s no reason for why he would be a part of such an absurd twist. We barely know much about his character to begin with and all of a sudden, bam! A twist! One so shocking, M Night Shyamalan would be proud. The characters do a bunch of other dumb shit in the movie that would make real folk groan, but I’m not going to list them all because most of them are spoilers. And this is a spoiler free review, so I have to make promises on that.
Plus, certain characters are introduced only to be (as Tv Tropes puts it), “put on a bus.” Characters like Allyson’s boyfriend and the child that Vicky, Allyson’s friend, is babysitting, show up claiming to be central to the plot, only to end up disappearing halfway into the film. There’s no hint as to whether they were killed by Michael or not, they just vanish all of a sudden, never to be brought up again. Not only that, a certain key character gets offed towards the climax, and none of the other characters ever bother to acknowledge it. That’s a bit insensitive isn’t it? A person you know and care about is suddenly brutally disposed of by a deranged killer, and you don’t even seem to take notice of it? Wow…
The first half of the film also has a lot of unnecessary exposition. I know a lot of it is there because filmmakers want to usher in a new crowd (and the prequel came out four decades ago), but if it’s a supposed sequel, then why bother having that much exposition in the first place? We even get a brief flashback to when Michael killed his sister and the way its presented is marginally inferior to the original (they added this granular filter effect over the screen when audiences are shown this scene from Michael’s perspective). Karen’s entire backstory is also presented through an infodump, one by the character herself no less. To make matters worse, the way Karen’s actress delivers her lines for this scene is done no nonchalantly and emotionlessly, that it almost feels as if she’s unmotivated by its presence.
To sum it all up, Halloween will prove disappointing towards fans wanting a bit more from the sequel (particularly after seeing its positive critical reception) but will ultimately satisfy others that are just craving for a bloody, horrifically violent slasher flick. If you’re in the latter group, Halloween offers that in spades. Halloween is an entertaining, schlocky fun time for scaredy cat friends to huddle together with in a theater and shriek at every ear-splitting jumpscare (I swear theater staffs just amplify the volumes for these kinds of movies alone). As a slasher film, it plays it safe. However, fans such as myself who want to see something different, aren’t going to be overjoyed by its existence. See this for yourself and come to your own conclusions. Take my rating with a grain of salt, its only for protocol purposes, I swear.
Final verdict: 5/10
*Door slowly creaks open*
Oh shit, he fou-