Review: Halloween (2018)

1978’s Halloween is one of the best horror films ever made. It jump started a genre and spawned seven sequels, two remakes, and dozens of copycat films.

For the most part, the sequels didn’t come close to capturing the thrills and suspense that captivated audiences in 1978. Even when the films were entertaining (2002’s Halloween: Resurrection), the more sequels they made, the more Michael Myers magic wore off.

In comes director David Gordon Green and writer Danny McBride (the duo behind HBO’s comedy East Bound and Down) to rejuvenate the Halloween franchise.

This Halloween sequel ignores every sequel that came after the original – all the ridiculous mythology is dismissed. And no, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is not the sister of Michael Myers.  40 years after the murders in Haddonfield, Laurie is on the Sarah Connors survivalist plan. Surviving the murders has consumed her life. Laurie walks around in a constant state of paranoia. She has trap doors and special hiding places in her home, a target range on her property, and more guns than an NRA convention.

Of course, everyone thinks Laurie is crazy. She’s preparing for something people don’t think is coming. Laurie is like Noah building the Ark if Noah was waiting for a 6’5” psychopath to come murder him. Laurie’s relationship with her daughter (played by Judy Greer) is rocky at best, but her relationship with her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) is much better.

Meanwhile, Michael is being transported to a maximum security prison. After an incident on the bus, Michael gets free and make makes his way back to Haddonfield to finish the job he couldn’t finish 40 years ago.

With a 1h 46min runtime, Halloween gets right to the murders and never lets up. Michael stalks the streets of Haddonfield and racks up a pretty nice body count in just a few hours. There are a few standard horror movie kills but some of kills are very imaginative. How many ways can you kill someone with a knife? David Gordon Green will show you!

More gruesome than the kills onscreen are the ones that aren’t seen. The camera will stumble upon a person with stretched out jaw or some poor soul pinned to the wall like a cat calendar.

There are plenty of colorful characters in this story but none shine brighter than Julian (Jibrail Nantambu). He’s being babysat by one of Michael Myers many victims.  Julian is hilarious because he’s the stand-in for the audience. Julian says and does everything an audience member would do if Michael Myers showed up at their house. His scenes are one of those “If Black People Were in Horror Movies” viral videos, but they’re actually in a horror movie. Even his commentary when Michael starts killing is funny. Jibrail is a delight. Hopefully we will get to see more of this young star in the future.

Andi Matichak is a young scream queen in the making. She does a lot of really good running and screaming. She does all the things young scream queens do – she walks down dark alleys and has a great run slip and/or fall combo. No scream queen journey is complete without them finding themselves alone at the worst possible time.

Jamie Lee Curtis is great as Laurie. The film does a good job showing how that traumatic night followed her and where someone like Laurie would be 40 years later. Laurie has some great scenes but none better than the final act of the film when she faces off with Michael.

Halloween is a sequel worthy enough to follow the original. It’s an updated version with a much higher body count and less stalking than the original. Just like Terminator 2 has a lot more action than Terminator – two great films, two different vibes. There are plenty of nods to the original and an engaging story that leads to an explosive ending. It’s unclear if the Halloween franchise is back, but this sequel a great start in the right direction.

Grade: B+