Halloween Marathon: 2018

I’m doing this because I haven’t seen them all and have a lot of work to do and need something to watch. It’s been about 20 odd years since I watched this original, so let’s delve back in…

Retcon Alert!: Ignore everything from Halloween 2 (the first Halloween 2) onwards, everything is retconned away. This is a direct sequel to the original movie and only references the rest of the series in the form of Easter Eggs. Just to be clear, that means Laurie and Michael or not siblings.

Movie: Halloween

Released: 2018

Director: David Gordon Green

Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Will Patton, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney, Haluk Bilginer, Rhian Rees, Jefferson Hall

Plot: 40 years after his murder spree, Michael Myers escapes from custody and returns to Haddonfield. Laurie Strode has been deeply traumatised by her past experiences, and spent the past decades training herself to kill Michael if the opportunity arises.

Review: It’s the opening scene that sets the tone for the movie to follow. The pair of podcasters seeking to visit Michael Myers (Courtney) in captivity is a haunting and unsettling experience, and I’m glad they resisted the urge to include a jump scare to cap off the prologue. At first it seems odd that these two clowns would be allowed access to Myers, let alone taunt him with his mask, but when Dr. Ranbir’s motivations become clear later in the movie it makes sense. Either way, this is the catalyst that leads to Myers’ escaping and continuing his rampage.

Like the original film, we get a good amount of time dedicated to setting up and getting to know our characters. One of our new characters to focus in on is Allyson (Matichak), Laurie’s granddaughter. Despite Allyson’s efforts to mend bridges her mother (Greer) has cut Laurie out of their lives after a childhood of survival training. Laurie is a mental mess, living in fear, heavily armed and often drunk. Halloween night rolls around with Michael on the loose, Laurie on the prowl for the killer alongside Deputy Hawkins (Patton) and Allyson dealing with teenage drama. As the body count increases the more Laurie and her family are at risk.

Making this a direct sequel to the original movie doesn’t make much sense at first, but they’ve clearly put a lot of thought into making this work. By stripping away of the nonsense of abusive families, cults and reality TV shows they’ve left us with the terrifying version of ‘The Shape’. It feels more like a direct sequel than anything released after the original sequel, and there’s nothing to be gained from keeping up the continuity. The decaying pumpkin in the opening titles is a great way to rewind the franchise back to this foundation. This is now the third iteration of Laurie Strode following the events of the original film, having been killed in an accident off-screen, being a secret principal. Grizzled survivor Laurie is easily the best version of the character. She’s also complex and damaged enough not to be a generic badass reboot of the character.

Although Michael is a much older man during the events of these movies he’s no less intimidating. He’s a huge and imposing figure and remains as relentless a killer as he was during the first film. Will this violent new instalment he sits as one of the most intimidating versions of this character. This is emphasised by the sombre tone with which surviving characters talk about previous events, putting a focus on the trauma they experienced the long term effect it had on their families. It does sometimes ties itself too heavily to rewriting the continuity when they have to pause to explain away the sibling connection.

This is an example of a strong genre film. It doesn’t seek to subvert or reinvent the tropes of the slasher movie, instead of sets out to do them to as good as possible. It’s suspenseful instead of startling, it’s cold instead of self-referential and it’s horrifying instead of making quips. It’s refreshing to get a slasher movie that sets out to deliver something disturbing with sympathetic characters we don’t want to see get killed off. It’s especially refreshing after the horrible remakes and dumb sequels. Looking forward to Halloween Kills!

Rating: EIGHT out of TEN