Forty years after his killing spree, Michael Myers once again
escapes custody and goes after Laurie Strode, the one who got away.
Directed by David Gordon Green
Written by David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, Jeff Fradley
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak,
James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle, Haluk Bilginer, Will Patton
Sequel to 1978's Halloween
There was apprehension, for good reason, when yet another reboot was announced for a horror franchise. It wasn’t Friday the 13th though, John Carpenter’s 1978 Halloween was getting a sequel that erased all the films that followed it to establish another timeline. Not to mention that said reboot/requel was coming from the duo responsible for Kenny Powers, The Righteous Gemstones, and other comedies which made the prospect of a return to Haddonfield concerning. Then it was announced that Jamie Lee Curtis was coming back to reprise her role as Laurie Strode and the Horror Master himself John, and his son Cody, Carpenter would be composing the score. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.
After the events of Halloween night 1978, Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney pulling on the mask this time around along with Nick Castle who first played ‘The Shape’) has been held at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium. Sam Loomis has passed and the burden of caring for Michael has fallen upon Dr. Ranbi Sartain (Bilginer). Dr. Sartain has, by his own admission, obsessed over the most popular patient of Smith’s Grove for years and is happy to facilitate as couple of podcasters, Aaron (Hall) and Dana (Rees), who want to see if Michael has anything to say after 40 years, what could go wrong? After getting nothing out of Michael, Aaron and Dana seek out the other half of the story, the reclusive Laurie Strode (Curtis). In the 40 years since the horrors she experienced, Laurie has not been able to have a normal life. Her own obsession with survival and preparing for a night that may never come cost her two marriages, her daughter Karen (Greer) and a relationship with her granddaughter Allyson (Matichak). She has a compound that doubles as a training facility that allows no one to come unannounced. After letting the ‘journalists’ in, Laurie sees they are only in it for the sensationalism and she sends them packing. She has to see that his pending transfer goes off without a hitch which, of course, there’s a big hitch in this scenario and Michael is let loose on the world once more. This time around, Michael is back to being the force of nature that made him so terrifying in Carpenter’s 1978 film. There are a lot of brutal kills in this movie (the sequence where he gets his mask back harkens back to Halloween 4) and there is a particular sequence where an almost three minute long take follows Michael on his return to Haddonfield as he grabs a hammer, bashes a woman’s head in, and takes a butcher knife. The camera follows him as he peers in on another woman talking on the phone and he sneaks inside her home to plunge the knife through the back of her head! For me, this is Michael Myers roaming the streets of Haddonfield like a shark in search of its next kill; death has come to this little town. What we come to find out is that Sartain has been planning for this night as he wants to observe Michael ‘in the wild’ and he leads the Shape to Laurie and gets thanked for his effort with a boot to his skull from Michael, squishing him like a smug grape. Laurie is prepared and has turned her home not into a fortress but a trap for precisely this moment. Laurie, along with Karen and Ally, take on the Shape and burn Laurie’s house down around him.
This film functions like an examination of Laurie living with the trauma of that night 40 years ago. She’s built a fortress to live in as well as a tough exterior that’s hiding a vulnerable and terrified person unable to reconcile her past. Laurie believes that Michael Myers has been waiting for his chance to finally get the girl that got away 40 years ago (there was even a scene earlier in the film where the family tie is debunked as “something people made up”) but really she was just in his way. There are nods to the original that could have been used as a crutch. Instead, they come off really well and any fan of the original, myself included, would be pleased with what Danny McBride and David Gordon Green did with an update on a classic of the horror genre.
The worst thing about the Halloween franchise has always been the unwatchable sequels. After the incomparable first film and the decent second installment, there is a nonsensical dumpster fire's worth of ridiculous Halloween films that tried to make things either supernatural or misguidedly trailer park (Rob Zombie). Now, with the new Halloween, there is finally a sequel worth watching that does justice to the original and plays up the nostalgia for longtime fans. This film is one of the most entertaining horror films of the year and a true gem for horror fans everywhere.
Picking up forty years after the events of 1978's Halloween and ignoring every sequel and remake, 2018's Halloween sees Michael Myers escaping the mental hospital to once again go on a killing spree on Halloween night. This time, however, Laurie Strode (played fantastically once again by Jamie Lee Curtis) has built her entire life around being prepared for this very situation. Now, Michael becomes the prey as Laurie goes after him to protect her daughter and granddaughter. It's a delightful flip on the original's formula, with enough twists and turns to keep the audience on their feet and enough throwbacks to make every horror fan smile.
Halloween is the return to form that fans have been waiting for for way too long. No evil cults, no killer masks, no Busta Rhymes. Just Michael Myers with a butcher knife and an insatiable thirst for teenage blood. Though the film's success will inevitable spawn a sequel or rejuvenate the franchise, I think the buck should stop here. This film is a perfect finale for the characters and to undo the film's pulse-pounding third act would be a disservice. Let it die, folks. It went down swinging.