Minor spoilers ahead.
Forty years ago, John Carpenter gave the world something they would never, ever forget. The 1978 film starring Jamie Lee Curtis as a babysitter hunted by a serial killer launched one of the biggest movie franchises of all time and gave birth to two horror legends in Curtis’ Laurie and the masked murderer Michael Myers. After ten entries (most of them poorly received), director David Gordon Green returns to revitalize the series and return to its roots, wiping the canon clean and instead having this sequel act as a direct follow-up to the first.
I’ve personally never been a big fan of the Halloween franchise as a whole, never really paying attention to the continuity or even caring much at all. But I am a fan of the original. John Carpenter’s classic will always be a classic in the horror genre, and still stands the test of time four decades later. Even after all of the terrible sequels, it still remains a staple in the horror community, and most likely always will. David Gordon Green’s reboot of the franchise definitely isn’t perfect, but it utilizes its clear strengths to overpower the elements that attempt to bring it down.
Halloween picks up–you guessed it–forty years after the Haddonfield murders. Laurie Strode has spent every one of them praying for the day that Michael Myers will escape so that she can hunt him down and kill him herself. We get our first glimpse at her new life during an interview with two investigative journalists, and it’s quite visible how much her world has been shattered and impacted by Michael’s lengthy night of terror. There’s even a remote that leads downstairs to a panic room. As can be expected, her wishes come true and Michael breaks out while being transferred to another prison, heading back to his hometown for one more night of bloodshed.
Halloween acts as both a tribute to the legacy of the iconic franchise, showcasing how far horror movies have come since the original was released in theaters. We certainly have higher standards, and Green recognizes that, throwing in both callbacks to the first and representations of the time period we live in now. Its main problem, though, is that it still suffers from the same tropes every horror flick nowadays tries so desperately to escape. In addition, it ultimately lacks a satisfaction as it ends, which makes for a pretty disappointing viewing experience for longtime Halloween fans.
Green and co-writer Danny McBride help to reflect the #MeToo movement, most evident through the characterization of the female leads, all of whom pave the way for a new generation of slasher heroes. Laurie is the grizzled survivor you didn’t know you wanted, and her expert marksmanship combined with her no-f—‘s-given attitude gives light to another incredible lead performance in horror movies this year (the other being Toni Collette in Hereditary). Green and McBride also bring an especially welcome twist on the “final girl” cliché. Just wait until the end; it proves to be extremely effective in more ways than one.
This Michael is the best iteration since the original. His character feels a bit too reliant on the formula made popular by its predecessor, as evident by his lack of any real development. This isn’t always bad, however; throughout the movie, there are moments where you’ll be glad that there’s no extra depth. As soon as the renowned villain puts on his old mask, the killing spree that ensues is truly phenomenal, a joyride of all things you could’ve possibly wanted from a reboot of a franchise like this. Throat stabbing, head smashing, human head jack-o-lanterns…this movie has it all, and that’s something to be thankful for.
Sadly, this isn’t a flawless movie and there are some visible issues that show up. One of these is the movie’s utilization of its subplots. There are some scenes in this movie that don’t at all feel like they belong at first, but once they kick off, they’re actually really interesting. Unfortunately, these story bits are thrown away just as quick as they were introduced, proving just how disposable they were from the start and not really giving themselves any reason for the viewer to care.
As mentioned before, it lacks the satisfaction of a good ending, which contributes to the absence of any real sense of finality. Everything leading up to the climax is extremely well-crafted, delicately bringing a horror icon to life in the best way possible. Once the movie gets to the said climax, however, everything just sort of falls apart. It’s awesome to see the three Strode women fighting back against their family terrorizer, but in terms of a narrative “bite”, there really just isn’t any sense of certainty; like the writing team were crammed for time when they wrote it. It’s pretty weak in terms of how it wraps up this series. Unless Blumhouse plans on making another movie, that is.
Composed by John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies, the new score is truly amazing. The original will always remain the more iconic but in terms of updating the classic songs for a Generation Z-directed audience, it works. It really does. The new, remixed theme is tremendously catchy and serves as both a fun upgrade and a sign of the times.
All in all, David Gordon Green delivers a perfectly serviceable entry in the Halloween franchise, one littered with excellent callbacks to its source material and a good reinterpretation of the slasher genre’s classic formula. It’s not perfect, for sure; in fact, quite the opposite. But in terms of giving the audience (more or less) exactly what they came for and wanted. Jamie Lee Curtis gives a crazy good portrayal as an older, revenge-driven Laurie Strode, and Michael Myers’ return is pretty much perfect.
Despite a lazily written and unsatisfactory ending and some dull characters, Green’s direction, Carpenter’s score, and the insane violence all add up to create a very intriguing and suspenseful return to form for the franchise. It still can’t beat the original, but it’s probably the closest a sequel ever will.
Halloween stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner, Nick Castle, James Jude Courtney, Haluk Bilginer, Rhian Rees, Jefferson Hall, Toby Huss. Directed by David Gordon Green.