NOTE: This review was originally posted at ScareTissue.com the morning after I got to see a preview screening.
Halloween (2018) was directed by David Gordon Green and was written by Green, Jeff Fradley, and Danny McBride. It is the eleventh installment in the Halloween film series, and a direct sequel to the original 1978 film. It completely retcons the series as it ignores all other films in the franchise after the original.
SPOILER ALERT: This review will talk openly about some plot points of the film. I’ll try not to ruin any major surprises but if you want to be totally spoiler free skip this until you’ve watched the film.
Plot & Thoughts
Set forty years after the original Halloween, we once again follow Laurie Strode who’s been waiting all these years to come face to face with Michael Myers. Naturally, Michael makes his way back to Haddonfield, Illinois to finish her off as she escaped his killing spree on Halloween night back in 1978.
That’s a pretty short plot summary but it’s the gist and honestly it’s all you need. I could give you a beat by beat outline of the plot but it would neither A) spoil or B) enhance your enjoyment of the film. I’m not going to bury the lead here… I REALLY enjoyed this flick. It’s not a perfect film by any stretch and I’ll go into some of that but for horror fans and specifically fans of the Halloween franchise, there’s a lot to like here.
While I’m not a huge fan of all of the sequels in this franchise I had one major concern going in here: Would Michael still be Michael? Let me explain. The concept of Michael Myers is huge at this point. The body count he’s left in his wake across ten previous film is epic. But when we’re erasing 90% of that history what do we have left? A guy who killed five people and two dogs. *womp womp*
While that’s certainly horrific it pales in comparison to the nearly 100 victims he’s piled up in the sequels we just threw away. I’m thrilled to say that they address this right out of the gate and explain why Michael is a force to be reckoned with and why he should still be feared. I’m also happy to report that he leaves that original film’s body count in the dust in short order.
The other big concern I had here was the fact that they’d erased the bloodline between Michael and Laurie (as shown in the trailer). This is addressed. There’s still a reason that Michael wants to come after Laurie. There’s a little suspension of disbelief at play here but I’m totally OK with it.
Let’s start with some stuff that I wasn’t thrilled with.
- Supporting cast – in general I wasn’t a huge fan of the supporting cast. Many of the high school kids were just sort of there. Luckily there’s not much for them to do as the film revolves heavily around Michael and Laurie.
- The reboot Loomis – not a fan of this character as it was CLEARLY there to remind us of Dr. Sam Loomis. Hell, they even go so far as to call out the fact that he’s the ‘new Loomis’. Also there’s a particular aspect of this particular character that I really didn’t like. I’m going to leave it at that. I’m guessing you’ll know what I’m talking about after you’ve seen the film.
- Off screen action – while this is actually used really well in some spots, there’s a couple of times where shit happens off screen that we really should have seen. Not seeing Michael escape was a huge miss in my opinion and I was bummed to have not been shown it happen. That’s primarily because I totally enjoyed Michael in this movie so I found myself wanting more.
- The horror tropes – folks running into the woods when they should be running into the house, falling down when there’s nothing to trip over and people walking around in a dark house when they could just as soon flip on the lights. This sort of thing irritates me every time I see them whether in a big budget flick or an indie. Stop. Horror fans deserve better.
OK. Let’s get into the stuff that I loved. Keep in mind I’ve only seen it once and I didn’t take notes, so I’m going from first impressions and memory here. That said, I don’t really see much of these thoughts changing on subsequent viewings.
- The score – John Carpenter’s score is back and better than ever. It’s iconic and it’s done justice. From the word go, you know you’re in a Halloween flick when the music hits.
- Camera movement, direction & cinematography – this LOOKS like a Halloween flick with deep homages to that original film. There’s a lot of long tracking shots, POV shots, out of focus ‘look in the background’ shots and jump scares galore. You could watch that original film and this back to back and while there would be a passage of time they’d butt up against one another nicely. Think Rogue One to A New Hope in terms of look and feel. It’s flawless.
- The kills – they’re here in droves. They’re violent, they’re bloody and they’re rooted in reality. One thing I’ve always liked about Michael is that for the most part he’s a reality based killer. If you let yourself, you can imagine some psycho walking into a house and killing the babysitter. There’s a couple of kills here that are really ‘raw’ but not over the top like some of the ‘gore porn’ we’ve grown accustomed to in recent years.
- Jamie Lee Curtis – she’s great here. I like where they take the character of Laurie Strode forty years later. If there was someone who’d gone through what she’d gone through back in 1978 you could see them turning out this way.
- Michael – the portrayal of Michael here I completely enjoyed. He’s back to being ‘The Shape’ and that’s right where he needs to be. It’s a mix between the original 1978 version and the Rob Zombie hyper violent version.
In a nutshell, this is a tremendous entry into the Halloween franchise that completely ignores everything after the original. If you were a fan of the ‘story’ of Michael Myers including the cult stuff, the family ties to Laurie Strode and everything else that came in seven sequels and two reboots this one might not be for you. HOWEVER. If you’re a fan of ‘The Shape’ that is Michael Myers, a fan of a strong female lead, a fan of a high kill count full of blood and gore then this is a strong recommend and definitely worth checking out.
Halloween had a budget of only $10 million dollars. I’m not sure how that’s even possible in today’s day and age of blockbusters and shared universes but it’s fair to say that it will make an absolute shit ton of money and deservedly so. There’s slim picking coming to theaters for the rest of the year if you’re a horror fan but that’s OK… Halloween is really all you need this fall season. I imagine there will be some critics who will shit all over this film for it being ‘predictable’ and just another entry into a tired franchise. I’ll end my review with what I said as soon as I walked out of the theater:
If you’re a fan of horror movies and more specifically the Halloween franchise, I’m not sure how you couldn’t enjoy watching this.
I can’t wait to talk about it when more folks have had the opportunity to see it – Halloween opens nationwide on Friday, October 19th.
You can find more information about Halloween at the following links:
Have you seen Halloween (2018)? Let us know what you thought in the comments below!