Laurie Strode comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.
October 18, 2018
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Judy Greer as Karen
Andi Matichak as Allyson
James Jude Courtney as The Shape
Nick Castle as The Shape
Haluk Bilginer as Dr. Sartain
Will Patton as Officer Hawkins
Halloween (2018) continues the story of Laurie Strode 40 years after the fateful night in 1978 when Michael awoke from his silence and sought her out to dispatch her, as he had done at 6 years old when he stabbed his older sister to death. Every Halloween movie other than 1 and 2 is ignored in this one, and Laurie has been prepping for the eventual return of Michael all these years.
In this particular version of Halloween, Michael was eventually captured by police and incarcerated, though that happened in some past reality that we don’t see directly. Our first introduction to the new older Michael comes when a pair of podcasters, presenting themselves as “investigative journalists” (Rhian Rees and Jefferson Hall) enter the facility where Michael is being held, him standing outside on a chain with a drawn box around him indicating how far away onlookers must stand to avoid getting caught in his grasp. Somehow the podcasters were able to “borrow” the mask Michael wore 40 years ago in his melee, and they use it to try and get some kind of reaction from the immovable Shape. It seems that this interaction, along with the opportunity presented by Michael being moved to a new high security facility, provides the motivation for him to come back to life and seek to finish what he started with Laurie.
And then there’s Laurie. Two failed marriages, serious alcohol problem, and years of being the kind of doomsday prepper that includes booby traps, weapons, hand to hand combat training, and alienating everyone around her. Turns out she has a daughter from a previous marriage (Judy Greer) who was taken away from her when the child was 12 because of the F’ed up life Laurie was giving her, full of paranoia and paramilitary training. That daughter also has a daughter, Laurie’s grand daughter (Andi Matichak), who continues to defend and latch on to dear ole’ granny. When Michael finally does come, nobody could possibly be more ready for it than Laurie Strode.
There are some very good things about Halloween (2018) and some not so good things. Respect for the franchise and Jamie Lee Curtis suggests I should start with the good. Alfred Hitchcock famously said “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it”. Halloween (2018) director David Gorden Green certainly took this to heart and made sure that suspense ruled the day. I’ve seen a lot of horror movies, and I mean hundreds and hundreds, and it’s not often my breathing gets erratic and I squirm in the chair waiting for the inevitable to happen, but there was lots of that in this film. The bottom line is this film is scary. The gore is passable, and the flow is good. Overall a credible addition to the Halloween universe.
Unfortunately there are a few detractors as well. First and foremost, although it’s clear that Green wanted to make this Halloween his own rather than following the path laid out by prior versions, he went too far. Ok, if you want to leave out the Rob Zombie iterations and even those featuring Danielle Harris I can live with that, but leaving out the primary vehicle to further the lore of Laurie Strode, the awesome Halloween H20 (1998), just doesn’t make any sense. All Green really had to do, even if he didn’t want to further the storyline of Laurie going into hiding only to be targeted by Michael when her son (Josh Hartnett) turns 17 and is also marked for death, is have some sweeping shot of family pictures on the mantle showing him at the age he was in H20 and maybe another showing him with his own family (or in prison, whatever). That would have covered it. Instead that entire storyline is erased. We are to believe instead that, instead of being burned up that fateful Halloween in 1978, he was instead captured and imprisoned. This might work for the younger set who didn’t grow up with the franchise, but it’s pretty disrespectful to those of us who did.
That item aside, Halloween (2018) suffered from a lack of focus. Who is the star of the show here, who will be targeted and why? In the original we had Laurie and her group of friends (along with their dopy boyfriends) as the focal point of Michael’s ire. In this 2018 version Michael seems to be pretty random in the beginning, and opportunities to specifically target Laurie’s extended family are left uncapitalized on before the final confrontation. The film, from the perspective of the target victims, is just not tight, and that’s a bit distracting.
The climax of the film is exciting, and there’s a good surprise, but the power of the “climax” is not taken to its logical conclusion…. It’s good, but there is a lot left on the table and there’s a feeling that the film just kind of ends…. And I didn’t have any level of confidence that Michael was actually now gone. Sure, he’s never actually gone… but I didn’t really get any even false confidence of this. As the final credits rolled there was an audible “what?”.
Halloween (2018) was entertaining, scary, and suspenseful, and considering this is a horror film those are the primary required characteristics. At that level it succeeds, but even the little Easter eggs, like nods to the original 1978 house, references to Dr. Loomis, the appearance of the original Sherriff from the first films, closet scene, etc were not enough to satisfy My need for at least a shred of continuity. Green seemed to intend a stand alone ignoring all of the accumulated lore to date. Watch this one, but be prepared to see it without expecting too much moving forward of the storyline.
There was an opportunity for greatness here, a movie that focused on Laurie, her daughter and granddaughter and the complicated and painful relationship. And maybe a passing nod to Laurie’s now-adult son. Instead we get a suspenseful glimpse into crazy prepper who has her worst-case scenario come true. Good… but not as good as it could have been.