Halloween (2018) – A Review
It’s been forty years since that violent Halloween night when Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) survived the murderous rampage of Michael Myers. Since then she’s become haunted by her encounter. She’s armed herself to the teeth, trained and hoped he would one day escape so she could kill him and finally put to rest her personal demon.
Well, she gets her wish! Michael manages to get loose from his asylum shackles, dons his white mask, picks up a knife and once again Halloween night becomes a killers paradise for him. While Laurie sets out to end him, this time her daughter and granddaughter are also his potential victims. Can the toughened up Laurie survive and defeat The Shape this time?
I guess I should explain my feelings about the Halloween series. Easy – I really like the original 1978 film by John Carpenter. The sequels, I don’t care about any of them or have any kind of affection for. Some are better than others, but there hasn’t been any that I would say made me any more a fan of the series than the original film.
The whole idea of wiping away forty years of subpar sequels, insipid storylines and major missteps to finally make a ‘genuine’ real Halloween sequel with Curtis and John Carpenter back together again sounds awful nice doesn’t it?
Don’t fall for it. This flick isn’t any better than anything that they’ve come up with in this series since 1978.
I can go along with leaps of logic, plot conveniences and unbelievably stupid behavior by characters. You have to get to the basics of setting up the murderous set pieces and trapped prey for Michael so we can get to some ‘Halloween’ fun.
It might be ridiculous and outlandish to get there and it becomes a clumsy, lazy road – fine. It’s vital to place victims alone in scary settings and the murderer ready to leap out at them. That’s the point of this series. So, I can overlook weak storytelling if it pays off with a rewarding, satisfying suspenseful sequence every now and then.
And there are plenty of convenient, nonsensical leaps in this Halloween. For the majority of the film Michael is showing up in places that are never explained. He never seems to have any kind of ultimate destination of where or what he’s doing. Tracing his journey after he escapes makes little to no sense. No wonder the cops can’t catch him.
Worse than that, are the scenarios he ultimately arrives at and the murdering he does is never scary, fun or thrilling. After watching the film I can’t think of any particular stand out moments or ‘kills’ that happen. It’s all forgettable stuff.
The big deal about this one is Curtis returning as Laurie. We saw her before in Halloween H20, which was a sequel to Halloween 2, but this one ignores those movies and is just a sequel to ’78’s Halloween. She’s a different Laurie this time around.
Does this leapfrogging over sequels and stories that have been told seem silly to anyone else? The filmmakers now realize how botched and messy the series has become and want to be selective in what story they’re continuing. I always compare it to when you’re a kid playing a game and someone yells “Do over!” and you have to start from scratch.
This Halloween Do-Over picks up forty years after Laurie survives her babysitting night and Michael is now captured (although at the end of the ’78 one he was still on the loose, so we never get to see how he got caught, we’re just told it). After being haunted by her Halloween attack all those years ago she has toughened up to become a gun-toting paranoid recluse. There’s a lot of buildup with Laurie and Curtis returning – that pays off with nothing.
I thought Jamie Lee should have kept her natural hair and they should have ditched the wig she wears too by the way. We all know what Curtis looks like, so her wearing this stringy wig throughout the movie (which I guess is meant to harken back to her hairstyle in the original) does her no favors.
If they want us to accept she’s no longer this sweet innocent teen and has turned into this badass grandma, we can swallow that she’s changed her hairstyle since 1978.
Carpenter is credited as executive producer, along with Curtis. I really don’t think Carpenter cares what they do with this series at this point.
Looking back, I think Carpenter’s disinterest with Halloween had already begun when he wrote the 1981 sequel. He apparently did some of the music for this movie, (that was his main contribution) and other than the classic Halloween theme (which they pull out again), I don’t remember anything notable about any of the music.
Aside from Curtis and Michael you won’t remember anyone else from this movie. Laurie’s daughter and granddaughter (Judy Greer and Andi Matichak) are empty vessels of characters. We’re given no reason to like or root for either of them, although we’re meant to.
They take the lazy tact of banking our interest and like on these new characters in that ‘related’ way. A simple introduction to these banal characters are hoped to be accepted by the audience because of who they’re related to.
Rather than writing them in any interesting or compelling ways on their own, they’re simply ‘a relation’ to the one character we’re already familiar with and like, thus that affection is thought to bleed down to them by simple name association.
“Oh, that’s Laurie’s daughter, she’s Laurie’s granddaughter! Their name is Strode too! Don’t you like them both?” No. No, I’m not given any reason to like either of them.
Take away the fact they’re related to Laurie Strode and the pair are just as uninteresting as any one-dimensional mother and daughter you’d find in a Hallmark movie. I was hoping Michael would ultimately catch up to both of them so the time wasted on them would shift back to Laurie.
The movie also fills itself up with many more superfluous characters and story threads that come and go and I just didn’t care about any of them.
The two podcasters who are introduced in the beginning, are quickly disposed of and don’t leave any impact on the story. All the time spent on Laurie’s granddaughter and her boyfriend that we endure though grueling, incredibly boring scenes – meeting her parents, going to a high school dance, just made me roll my eyes. A few of her friends, who might as well not have been in this, contribute nothing aside for being anonymous victims of Michaels knife. Will Patton who goes through the motions in the role of the town sheriff.
And that whopper of Michael’s psychiatrist, who takes such a bizarre, looney turn I don’t know how it wouldn’t be pegged as one of the most inane moments of the entire franchise. It was such a head shaking, silly moment that goes nowhere, I was left shaking my head for several minutes thinking, “Did they really think that was a good idea????” It rivals the notorious scene of Busta Rhymes having a grudge match with Michael in Halloween Resurrection.
For a movie that you would think would place Curtis center stage and have the majority of the film revolve around her, I felt she was just another supporting character. She doesn’t get nearly as much screen time as I thought she would have and the film fills up screen time with characters who are only there to provide the smallest, almost inconsequential help to move the story along. I was pretty surprised.
Maybe I’m completely misjudging the amount of her screen time, but it felt like she appeared much less this time out than she had in H20, the last time she came back to the series – aside from her death scene in the followup. I would love to know how much actual screen time Curtis gets in this.
Michael gets his mask from the podcasters is the only reason they’re there. The granddaughters boyfriend breaks her phone – that takes forever to make all those scenes that have him have an actual point. That sets things up for the climax. The shrink….well I don’t even know why they bothered to have him there. I guess just to have some throwback to Donald Pleasance.
Oh yeah, the nods to the original film and its sequels. They’re in there for fans to elbow each other and say, “Hey, that’s just like what they did in the other movie”. So, if you enjoy doing that kind of nostalgic acknowledgement thing you won’t be disappointed.
The final climax isn’t exciting or scary. All this build up making Curtis be such a badass grandma who’s armed to the teeth like Sarah Connor and Michael arriving at her compound doesn’t pay off in any breathtaking or thrilling ways. By that point I was just trying to get to the end.
There are a few good things I can say. The bathroom scene was decent. I liked seeing Patton as the sheriff. I’ve liked him since No Way Out.
He just plays the standard sheriff role in this. They try to make his character be relevant, by him being the one who caught Michael all those years ago, but that’s just window dressing. He mainly drives around, tells folks to lock their doors and discovers bodies. But I still would have rather followed him around in his squad car this night than had to watch anyone else.
Curtis was nice to see and seemed to relish playing the disturbed and armed Laurie. It’s cool that she’s embraced her ‘scream queen’ status and Halloween is a popular reliable series that she can always revisit, be welcomed back and return to her steady role. Some of the publicity photos she did to promote the film were fun to see. And it’s satisfying to know that Carpenter got some cash from this.
I guess that’s about it.
I have to admit I am quite baffled by the affection for this flick. I had heard a lot of fans really liked it and have declared it the best Halloween sequel. Maybe I had too high expectations for it. In the end, I didn’t care for it and thought it was just another run-of-the-mill inconsequential sequel in this franchise, but I guess I’m in the minority feeling that way.
It made a lot of money, so it’s likely Michael will be returning once again, and maybe with Curtis too. Laurie and Michael could face off again for the sixtieth anniversary.
I’m not sure where else they’re going to go with this saga though. It’s been the same rinse and repeat story for forty years and the Halloween series hasn’t come up with anything new to freshen and reinvigorate the classic boogeyman story Carpenter created.
Maybe the next step will be to turn it into a Broadway musical.