Oct 29, 2018
Welcome back to Matinee Monday! We’re back this week because, much like Michael Myers, the Halloween franchise has been resurrected, this time with another direct sequel to the original “Halloween” (1978) that retcons a great deal of the previous films. #FilmTwitter and the box office have already declared the film a success, but is it better than the original? Well, you’ll find out in this special two-part episode. Today, I’ll be reviewing the latest installment, and tomorrow, for Takeover Tuesday, the Moviedrone Podcast will be reviewing the original John Carpenter. If you dig either episode, let us know on social media, or reach out on onemoviepunch.com.
Today’s movie is “Halloween” (2018), the Blumhouse Productions and Universal Pictures revival of the Halloween franchise, directed by David Gordon Green, and written for the screen in collaboration with Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley, based on the iconic characters created by John Carpenter and Debra Hill. Forty years after the original killing spree, a prison bus transporting Michael Myers (Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney) overturns, releasing him from the psychiatric prison he’s been trapped within for decades. Now Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), having prepared for this moment her entire life, tries to protect her estranged daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), as Myers restarts the killings.
The original “Halloween” is often cited as the birth of the Golden Age of the slasher film. Although it wasn’t the first, and came four years after “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” (Episode #035), it was easily the most popular, and by the time I was old enough to rent R-rated films (with written permission), there were racks on racks on racks of slasher films, launched primarily by the popularity of this one film. It has been years since binging on entire franchises in one caffeine-soaked evening with friends, laughing hysterically at the campier kills, and jumping at each background movement. So much comes back to the original “Halloween”, and much like the copycats and homages that followed, the franchise itself turned into its own self-hating movie machine, with multiple reboot attempts, even with Jamie Lee Curtis, and impossible to retcon. How can this possibly be different? And after seeing it, how can it possibly be this good?
You can tell that everyone involved with this production took a lot of care with doing it right, especially with the mixed results since the original. We’ve all seen plenty of reboots go wrong in our time, and one of the mistakes is generally not paying attention to the elements that made the original a hit. For the original “Halloween”, that’s Jamie Lee Curtis, that’s the first-person camera work, that’s Carpenter’s iconic score, and that’s the brutal realism of a murdering psychopath. Bringing those elements into the modern day also requires reexamining a lot of contemporary racism and sexism that existed in films at the time, especially in developing Laurie Strode after forty years of trauma, and two generations of family that have followed, each looking at Laurie’s trauma through a very different lens, and each only able to process from their own unique perspective, one that can never know the sheer terror that Laurie felt. It’s never explicitly said, just as many of Michael’s kills are never explicitly shown, and that “just enough” storytelling lets our imaginations do the walking.
Two more items in this love fest. First, Judy Greer absolutely nails a scene towards the end, during the final confrontations with Michael, one I don’t want to spoil for the two or three people who haven’t seen it yet. Second, thank goodness they brought back John Carpenter to advise on everything, but most especially the music. Combine that with all the classic camera angles and the awesome art direction in the title sequences and transitions, and you have a successful whatever you want to call it. And for those who wonder about more entries in the franchise, let me just say that while they might be monetarily successful, they may also be another string of flawed attempts to recapture what was done here. I’m willing to be proven wrong, but I suspect this is the last best attempt to close out the franchise, and maybe try something brand new with those that survive. Let’s evolve, and not repeat.
“Halloween” (2018) is the follow-up story that we deserved to the iconic John Carpenter classic, a film that respects the best of the source material, and evolves all of the elements for the modern day. It is an unexpected grace note to what has been a lackluster franchise, reminding us of the haunting realism of the original film. Horror fans have probably already seen this film, but even non-horror fans who want a small taste of the golden age of slasher films should definitely see this film in the theaters, preferably with a sizeable audience. My spouse is proof that you don’t need to have seen the original, or even like horror films, to enjoy this one.
Also, note to self. Show spouse original “Halloween”, right after tomorrow’s review.
Rotten Tomatoes: 79% (FRESH)
One Movie Punch: 9.4/10
“Halloween” (2018) is rated R and is currently playing in theaters.