For my review of the original film, click the following link: HALLOWEEN (1978)
So a little history with me and the Halloween franchise. There is no history. Before a month or so ago, I’d never even seen the original classic. Actually, I take it back, I’ve seen Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake. Aside from that, I think I’ve seen one of the sequels a long-ass time ago, but I hear the sequels aren’t great, and bad slasher films are a dime a dozen, so maybe I’m just blending Michael Myers’ iconic mask with another bad slasher that I’ve seen. Before starting this blog, there’s been plenty of horror movies I’ve passed on because I saw them all as the same movie following the same formula: dumb people making dumb decisions getting other dumb people killed. Nothing to invest in, nothing to care about, just jump-scare porn and a fetish for clichés. It’s only been in the last few years where I’ve seen some legit effort put into some of them, so I’ve been much more open to seeing horror films, especially since I’ve been doing my 2018 Halloween Special reviews. In any case, I can’t say I’m excited for this movie, but I’m interested.
The story looks like it’s about Michael Myers escaping the asylum he’s been locked away in since the first film decades ago and coming after Laurie Strode again, who’s got a family and rifle with more than a few bullets with Michael’s name on them.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Jamie Lee Curtis (BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA , TRUE LIES , and the upcoming SENIOR ENTOURAGE ), Judy Greer (ANT-MAN AND THE WASP , WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES , JURASSIC WORLD , and upcoming films WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE?  and BUFFALOED ), Andi Matichak (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of), and Will Patton (MEGAN LEAVEY , AMERICAN HONEY , and upcoming films RADIOFLASH  and HAMMER ).
Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing, we have David Gordon Green, known for STRONGER (2017), and the upcoming NEWSFLASH (2019). Green’s co-writers are Danny McBride (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of) and Jeff Fradley (a TV show I’ve never seen or heard of). Making for a grand total of three composers, we have John Carpenter (HALLOWEEN ), his son Cody Carpenter (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of), and Daniel A. Davies (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of). The cinematographer is Michael Simmonds, known for NERVE (2016). Finally, the editor is Timothy Alverson, known for INSIDIOUS 4 (2018) and THE DARKNESS (2016).
Overall, I’ve only seen a single trailer and I have very little to be hyped for. The movie does, however, look to be a little more action oriented, going the route of ALIENS (1986) or TERMINATOR 2 (1991). Should that be the case, I may actually enjoy this one quite a bit. Got some good actors attached, so I think it’s going to be fine at worst.
This is my honest opinion of: HALLOWEEN
Set forty years after the events of the first film. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), now a mother to Karen (Judy Greer) and grandmother to Allyson (Andi Matichak), and has spent the last few decades preparing for Michael Myers to escape and come for her. This level of preparation has estranged her from her family and mostly lives in isolation in a house rigged with weapons and hiding places. However, the unthinkable does indeed happen. When Michael is being transferred to live out the rest of his days behind another cell, that’s when he makes his move and goes on his killing spree, unknowingly getting closer to Laurie’s family.
Umm… please don’t hate me, but I think this movie is just… good. Not great, not amazing, but… good.
Hey! Put those pitchforks down! I’m going to start with the positives, of which there are plenty. For one thing, Curtis is a God-damned, grade-A, certified bad-ass. No joke, I think she’s right up there with Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton as a legendary action chick who should never be fucked with. In fact, Laurie really does sort of remind me of Sarah Connor a bit, doesn’t she? Original movie is a horror flick, she’s weak and struggles to survive, fast-forward to the sequel which is a bit more action-oriented, and it features a woman who has spend the time between movies prepping for the inevitable showdown with the figure that’s caused her so much pain and trauma. What I especially appreciate with how her character is written is that she’s not completely hardened. Oh yes, we get scenes where she’s pretty shameless about being isolated from her family and issues zero apologies for the way that she is. You have no idea how awesome it is to see a character truly evolve in these movies and Laurie is top of her game. But what makes her especially engaging is just how not-okay that she is. She’s still traumatized. There’s a scene where she basically watches Michael get put on the bus that he inevitably escapes from. She starts crying, and drinking tiny bottles of alcohol, and her hand is shaking, making for arguably one of the more powerful moments in the movie. Credit where credit is due, I think if there’s anything that deserves praise, it’s the way Laurie has evolved since the first movie, and Curtis selling the shit out of it.
But who cares about Laurie?! Actually, a lot of people, but let’s talk about the iconic boogeyman himself, Michael Myers. Originally, I thought my co-worker hit the nail on the head. There’s a reason why 80s horror icons Freddy Krueger and Chucky are such… well, icons. They’re not just dudes in masks. You can’t just slap on some burnt-skin make-up on a dude and expect him to match up to Robert Englund. He makes the character. You can’t just throw a Good Guy doll on screen with any ole voice actor, although this new reboot could prove that statement wrong depending on how it turns out. It’s Brad Dourif that makes the character. But with icons like Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers, all you need is a tall-ass dude and you’ve got your hockey-mask toting, William Shatner-face wearing stunt-guy and you’re good to go. But I might challenge my co-worker to give this particular iteration a try, as I think there’s a ton of nuances to Michael. Before we even meet Michael, his build-up is rather fun. Forty years later and no one’s been able to get anything new from studying him, even the doctor that knew him best, Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer). He’s completely quiet, yet he has this profound impact on the crazies around him. When the journalist holds up that iconic mask to provoke a verbal response, the other inmates start getting riled up, but Michael doesn’t make a peep. Hell, all he really does is make a ghost of a head turn to acknowledge the mask. While some people may find it a little contrived that the journalist says, “You sense it, don’t you, it’s a part of you” as if this is some kind of jacked up Star Wars movie, but there is something particularly chilling about the way Michael acknowledges it. No sound from him, and we can likely surmise that he’s been completely compliant with the daily routines that his asylum assigns him, so even that slight head turn for the mask triggers something unique in his character that hasn’t existed in forty years. And once he escapes, killing dudes AND A KID for that matter, his first stop is to grab that mask. Bro, I’m not surprised about mask-fetishes, but Michael took it to the extreme. But seriously, there is something particularly spooky about how he puts that mask on and just walks around with it.
And let’s talk about that cinematography. Who would have thought that a horror movie in this day and age would have good, noticeable camerawork. We’ve all seen that trailer where Michael grabs that hammer and beats and old lady with it and proceeds to grab the knife, but there’s actually a lot after that and it’s all one long well-shot tracking shot of Michael doing this thing. Once again, give credit where credit it due. It’s fantastic and I think more horror films should take a few notes.
We get a lot of character development, not just on Laurie and Michael’s side, but Laurie’s family gets a fair amount of screen time as well. Karen spent her childhood very similar to that of John Connor (boy, this movie feels very inspired by TERMINATOR 2), learning to use a rifle in her single digits, put into the foster care system (no, seriously, please tell me I’m not going crazy about the TERMINATOR 2 inspiration), and Greer even has some lines that sound like she’s been in therapy before to deal with what she went through as a kid. Allyson seems to be the only character that tries to reach out to Laurie and maintain an active relationship despite her mother constantly driving them apart by lying. Despite being a standard teenager, she does have her own spunky and intelligent side, kind of hearkening back to Laurie’s character from the first film, albeit with different situations and it’s really cool to see pan out.
Finally, and this does about one of my favorite things in a movie like this, gruesome deaths. You see dudes with their necks broken in an impossible angle, another’s jaw is detached from the socket with the teeth pulled out, another with a face hollowed out so a flashlight can shine in, there’s some really cringeworthy and satisfying deaths.
But, I mentioned some negatives, so I’m going to tackle them now. Hey, I got the right! I just said a lot of positive stuff! So shut it and hear me out!
For one thing, the movie hits a ton of frustrating clichés. Like characters that don’t see Michael as anything but another dude, despite not acting like another dude, so they just borderline take their deaths. Not really, but anyone who would have looked at Michael would have instantly ran away from him. Characters also seem to love wandering around by themselves to investigate something that ought to look suspiciously dangerous. Who in their right mind would see a prison bus full of mentally insane people and get out to check if they’re alright? So dumb. And this isn’t even the only time this happens, and later on the movie, the situation becomes that these characters almost earned their deaths. There’s even a character who has the perfect opportunity to run for her life and could have survived this movie. It’s not like Michael is known for sprinting. But nope, we need this chick to scream before dying. Ugh… For a movie that’s been getting as much critical praise as it is, I feel like too many of the tropes are getting overlooked.
<<<SPOILERS – highlight to read>>> [ Please tell me I’m not the only one who thought Dr. Sartain going evil and killing people was just a little dumb. I mean… he’s so fascinated by Michael and what killing a man feels like he decides to kill people too? Why did he wait so long to kill someone? Perhaps it’s implied that he has killed before, but it’s not even a clear implication. I think this was a weak attempt at squeezing in a second bad guy. It’s not like this really goes anywhere important. The movie could still have kept in that he was a sociopath as well, but not an active killer. Especially since Hawkins (Will Patton) was built up to be this important link to the first movie, being the first responding officer that… helped Laurie, or catch Michael, I don’t remember the details, but it just felt really contrived and cheap that he was killed off by the crazy doctor. Hell, if I didn’t know any better, Laurie and Hawkins seemed to know each other and he was one of her ex-husbands. Useless info either way since he dies off pretty easily and not in a heroic fashion. ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>
Overall, I can’t agree with the overwhelming high praise the movie is getting, but I suppose I can understand why. The movie does seem to fall in the same category of a sequel that improves on its iconic and great original. It’s a little more action-oriented, though not by much, both Laurie and Michael are extraordinary characters, there’s fun deaths, and even great cinematography. For my taste, this is a better film than the original. With that said, I don’t think this is a great movie because great movies don’t have infuriating clichés that you can find in far inferior films. Great movies subvert clichés or work around them. Also, some character choices that I really didn’t agree with and didn’t feel like added anything special. So what’s my recommendation? If you like strong, female leads and want to see if Laurie Strode really is up there with Sarah Connor and Ripley, then this is going to be a thoroughly pleasing film. It’s not exactly scary, but there is plenty of violence, so it depends how you are with that. It’s worth the viewing, but I think it’s important to ignore how “great” this movie is because… it’s not. But it’s really good.
My honest rating for HALLOWEEN: 4/5
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