Halloween (2018)

“He’s waited for this night. He’s waited for me. I’ve waited for him.”

Kyle’s Rating: I guess I’ll know for sure in 20 years, but for now I’ll say ‘Not too shabby”

Kyle’s Review: Movies bring back memories. When I wrote up my recent article ranking the James Bond films, it brought back amazing memories of the early 2000s, around the time I got my first DVD player and had to scour every video rental joint and sketchy music shop in southern California looking for used James Bond DVDs because the series was out of print at the time. Similarly, reorganizing my horror Blu-ray shelves and having to determine the proper order for my discs of the Halloween series reminded me of the cool little Halloween blood-globe collectible I got with a remastered VHS of the original film (I am very old) and how much I treasured it until it cracked and all the liquid came out, and I gave it to a girl who I think planned to use it in a weird art project. So it goes.

The newest Halloween film plays the dangerous game of acknowledging the audience’s memories of the Halloween series but making it very clear that those memories are no longer relevant. Laurie Strode was attacked by Michael Myers after he killed all of her friends, but the new paradigm is that minutes after the ending of Halloween (1978), Michael Myers was apprehended by the Haddonfield police and he has spent the next 40 years locked away. Laurie and Michael are no longer brother and sister. Laurie did not have a daughter named Jamie who became orphaned when Laurie and Jamie’s father died in a car crash, and Jamie did not have to face her crazed uncle for two consecutive Halloweens before being abducted and impregnated (possibly by her uncle, depending on the version of Halloween 6 you watch) and killed (by the man controlling the cult who controls her uncle). Laurie did not then turn out to have faked her death, probably not have having Jamie as her daughter after all, but while also not actually having a son who looked like Josh Hartnett with bedhead, and together in California they no longer faced Michael Myers returning to kill his sister and his nephew. Laurie no longer then hid her son away before not being killed by Michael, and Michael did not then return to his original family home (which was not revealed to be the size of a small mansion with secret sewage catacombs beneath it) to slaughter a reality show cast. And absolutely positively were there not two films made by, and weighed down mightily by the authorial stamp of, Rob Zombie.

Nope! None of that stuff happened. Halloween (1978) happened, and then Halloween (2018) happened. Next, Halloween Kills (2020 probably?) and Halloween Ends (2021 hopefully?) happen. Unless your mind contains multitudes, then hey: everything happened! How do you reconcile it all? Easy!

Actually, determining one’s own personal Halloween head canon is a special and sacred rite of horror, and I wish you well in your endeavor, whenever you decide to undertake it. I’ll talk about my own journey someday, but first I need to revisit my original MRFH review of Halloween III: Season of the Witch, which I shamefully trashed (I now consider it second only to the original Halloween). I recall that youthful mutant I was, endlessly shaking his Halloween blood-globe, but I sure don’t know what the hell he was thinking when it came to Halloween III!

But back to Halloween (2018): it’s pretty good. My major theatrical memory for this installment is sitting in the theater with my girlfriend and getting mad near the end of the movie at whoever was allowing their cell phone alarm to ring and ring without turning it off. Then I realized it was my cell phone and a work alarm I had mistakenly set for PM instead of AM was going off, and I was shamed. It was honestly on par with falling asleep during a midnight screening of the original Suspiria. What have I become?

There’s a lot going on in Halloween (2018). There’s a duo of British podcasters who are making a series (or just an episode?) about Michael Myers and his first (and only) slasher spree. There’s Laurie Strode, who is now a grandmother, survivalist, and basket case. There’s Karen Strode, Laurie’s daughter, who grew up being trained to survive anything but now just wants to be a wife and mother. There’s Allyson Strode, who wishes her mom and grandma could just get along, but also has a big costume plan with her boyfriend for the Halloween dance. And of course, there’s Michael Myers, who at 61 years old is still a formidable presence and seems to be jolted back into his murderous ways when he’s reunited with his iconic and wonderfully-aged mask. Haddonfield has a bad Halloween night 40 years ago but in this new paradigm hasn’t really had a bad one since, but that just means they’re due, and when Michael is free once more the streets will run red with blood.

There’s an amusing interview anecdote that get attributed to Stephen King but I believe was ultimately and properly attributed to James M. Cain, who was asked if the movie adaptations of his books ruined them in any way. Supposedly, Cain replied: “The movies didn’t change them a bit, son. They’re all right up [on the bookshelf]. Every word is the same as when I wrote them.” In a general way, that’s true of cinematic sequels and remakes and reimagining and Netflix mini-series: they can never destroy the version you prefer, because that version is hopefully right there on your movie shelves or in your digital player. I will refrain from mentioning Star Wars, because that’s a whole other can of worms, legally speaking. Specifically, Halloween (2018) can’t destroy your enjoyment of any of the Halloween sequels, because you can choose to acknowledge and ignore whichever you like in order to build your perfect personal Halloween series. And if you want to apply the windmills of your mind to build a comprehensive Halloween series where everything happened and the glue that connects and binds them all is your little secret? Go for it! Life is more fun that way.

I wholeheartedly recommend Halloween (2018) to you because whether you take it or leave it, there is a 30-minute stretch that is absolute pure gold right smack in the middle of this movie. Michael Myers gets to be unstoppable, genuinely scary, and (super)naturally driven to stalk and kill because that is what he will always be best at. Laurie and Karen and Allyson get fun moments, and one of Allyson’s friends gets a terrific sequence that shows why slashers like Michael Myers are always scariest when they’re matched up with wily teenagers. I will revisit my thoughts on the latter half of Halloween (2018) once I’ve experienced the next two films in the new paradigm’s trilogy, but for now I’ll say that there are certainly worse films in the Halloween series than this one. It’s no Halloween III, but it’s a good modern slasher with a fascinating pedigree and some interesting threads left dangling for the next installment. Fine Halloween fun!

Intermission!

  • Director David Gordon Green said in interview for Collider that first cut of the film was two hours and fifteen minutes long, and that both the “fat” of the film and entire scenes were cut out for pacing and length. This explains why there are so many deleted and alternate scenes in all the trailers and behind the scenes footage for the film.
  • While the film ignores all previous sequels and reboots, it pays homage to all Halloween films, as had been intended by co-Writer Danny McBride.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis returns in this film. She portrayed Laurie Strode and has been in five films. Halloween (1978), Halloween II (1981), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998), Halloween: Resurrection (2002), and this film. She was also the voice of the “Santa Mira” curfew announcer and telephone operator in Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), but was uncredited.
  • To achieve the intro sequence of the pumpkin rising back up, Director David Gordon Green revealed that a normal pumpkin was placed in front of a camera over a period of a few weeks until it rotted and slumped down. The footage was then reversed and edited properly for the title sequence to give it the illusion the pumpkin was rising on its own.
  • The third sequel in the original series to ignore a previous timeline from the franchise: Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) and Halloween: Resurrection (2002) both ignored the timeline established in parts 4, 5 and 6. This film goes one step further by also ignoring Halloween II (1981).

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