You’re not afraid of the bogeyman? You should be!
What can you say about a dream movie that no HALLOWEEN franchise fan thought would happen?
For all intents and purposes, the original saga of films ended following the poor feedback from Halloween: Resurrection in 2002 which saw the end of Jamie Lee Curtis’s titular character Laurie Strode. Rob Zombie did his take on the original story with two films that are held in mixed regard but they didn’t carry the weight that the original series had. Enter 2017, with Producer Malek Akkad (son of original producer Moustapha Akkad) getting the green light with Blumhouse Productions to bring on the team of director David Gordon Green with writers Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley to give a revitalized taste to the Michael Myers flavor. The key ingredient that sold the concept to many, including this writer, was in September 2017 when Jamie Lee Curtis announced she would be making her return for one final confrontation with Michael Myers. News sites lit up and fan base hearts starting beating. Not all was glorious when it was revealed that Halloween II (1981) through Resurrection were being completely discarded (there are Easter eggs though!); the story reverting back to the simplicities of an evil being committing a random act of terror on an innocent teenage girl and how, over 40 years, that girl’s post-traumatic repercussions have influenced her life.
Keep reading after the trailer for HALLOWEEN (2018)
Michael Myers is scary again
After a year of wait, HALLOWEEN a.k.a. Halloween 2018 or H40, opened on October 19th. With strong reviews coming out of the Toronto International Film Festival in September and other advance premieres, it was estimated to do big business at the box office. Universal, who picked up the film for distribution, did a tremendous job promoting Jamie Lee Curtis’s return as well as original creator John Carpenter to serve as consultant and create an entirely new score. It worked! Finally, Michael Myers is scary again and all the right ingredients were there to bring this ultimate confrontation between heroic Laurie Strode and Michael Myers (played in certain moments by original actor Nick Castle, and the rest done terrifically by stuntman James Jude Courtney).
The theatrical trailer that hit earlier in the Summer delivered on hyping exactly what fans wanted; teasing the confrontation to show Laurie readying herself for the fight by having an impressive gun arsenal, shooting bullseye after bullseye, and turning her secluded home into a compound that would house this 40 year war.
From the opening credits, the viewer is instantly drawn into the deep atmosphere and mood thanks to the re-establishment of Myers courtesy of two podcast journalists Aaron and Dana (Jefferson Hall and Rhian Rees). Their goal is to break some new ground on the case and understand why Michael did what he did, and as we later learn, to bring Laurie back to the forefront and face her oppressor, “Has one monster created another?” From there, we meet Laurie – her first scene showing that Jamie Lee Curtis hasn’t lost a touch and is bringing her full A-game to this performance – as she engages the podcasters with a swift dismissal after they bring up her relationship with estranged daughter Karen (Judy Greer, “Arrested Development”) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak, “666 Park Avenue”). There is so much emotion and depth that Curtis portrays that by the time Michael is set for transport out of Smith’s Grove Sanitarium to permanent exile, her display of fear and frustration is breathtaking. The family dynamics are clearly set with Karen and her husband trying to evade Laurie but Allyson wants to try and get through to her and retain a familial relationship.
Once Michael escapes, the news triggers Laurie and sets about the motion that she, and we, have waited for. In between, the additional characters of Allyson’s friends Vicky (Virginia Gardner, “Goat”), Dale (Miles Robbins, “Blockers”, “The X-Files”), Oscar (Drew Scheid, “Stranger Things”) and Cameron (Dylan Arnold, “The Purge – TV Series”) provide extra characters that – shocker! – you can actually like and each have their own traits that make them fleshed out and real. The writing sets a great balance of character and suspense, with a tad of prime-time drama come the Halloween School dance where Cameron proves that he is definitely the son of original character Lonnie (one of the little shits who tripped young Tommy Doyle but got his own scare when Dr. Loomis wisely steered him away from the Myers house) through his douchebag behavior. Extra credit goes to the show-stealing Jibrail Nantambu who portrays Julian, the kid being babysat by Vicky and has more than a few comedic interactions especially with Dave. Vicky is unlike original sitters Annie and Lynda; she has Annie’s spunk but goes the extra mile to form a real caregiver bond with her young charge. Their friendly dynamic along with Dave’s nuances add a welcome lighter touch amidst the soon-to-be terror that Vicky and Dave encounter once Michael comes knocking. Interestingly, there were a few clever foreshadows in Dave that gave you the idea he was going to play a bit more of a heroic role but that never came to pass. It should also be noted that Dave is given a great moment where he conveys a 2018 point-of-view on how the current generation would look at a relatively small murder case from 1978. By the way – not all characters introduced and mixed up in the story end up meeting their demise and I find that very satisfying and realistic.
There is so much to talk about but this film simply gives too much to be spoiled and to discuss more in-depth details would be to tarnish the experience that the moviegoer can enjoy. Heads up – listen to the teacher discussing fate in the classroom and you will be totally pleased. A quick note regarding an additional plot thread of Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer), which met with much criticism but actually provides some psychoanalytical perspective on the events and how the desire to know one’s motives and feelings can actually affect your well-being. In a shocking twist, it might not be Michael that gives the viewer one of the most disturbing visuals involving the famous mask.
Act Three is where the payoff really hits home, Laurie’s home, as The Shape ends up at the property and she is more than ready. Curtis made it well known that she is not a Terminator series Linda Hamilton badass despite all trailers and publicity photos, but a woman who is still very much vulnerable but ready to fight because that is all she has to hold onto. When Laurie and Michael finally come together, she finds herself manhandled and uses quick wits to evade. The hunt is on and cleverly, the question of who is the predator and who is the prey comes into perspective. It is daringly original and ingenious setups written into the story give this fight the stage it needs. Laurie is definitely ready for Michael, not just in a somewhat physical manner, but a psychological one and has a few Shape tricks of her own much to audience delight. The climax not only gives closure to Laurie’s fight (it’s a gun-slinging, knife-wielding, fire poker whacking, frying pan hitting brawl between the two folks and blood is definitely shed) but sees the empowering redemption of Karen as she equally sees the value in what her mother trained her to do so many years ago. A specific move by Allyson and how she endures the moment can be explored by repeat viewings; holding a potential deeper residual effect to her psyche that the audience can take to their imagination bank. Overall, with the three Strode women, it’s a generational story about the trauma not to one victim, but to the entire family.
One cannot possibly fit all that needs to be said about this new HALLOWEEN entry to the series into a review
During its opening weekend, Halloween 2018 has already grossed more than $91 Million in Global Box Office and surpassed all other entries in the series for its initial take. It has set other records as well which Jamie Lee Curtis shared via Twitter in a huge thank you to the cast, crew, and supportive legions of filmgoers. Honestly, there doesn’t need to be sequel now no matter how much the idea has already been toyed with. This gives perfect closure to a 40 year long story. It’s the perfectly carved jack-o-lantern, the best bag of candy any trick-or-treater could hope for, and needless to say, it’s everything the movie promised to be and more which is something rarely done by a sequel, remake or reboot. Jamie Lee Curtis has solidified her legend status as Scream Queen and Hollywood Royalty, with the promising younger cast following suit. David Gordon Green gave enough visual style to make it his own while honoring Carpenter. The horror was right. The mood was right. To say it could be the best horror movie sequel is no understatement and already being made by some critics. It’s not just a story of a bogeyman run amok, it’s a real woman who steps up to take control of a threatening situation and is willing to put her life – mind, body and soul – on the line to beat the evil that haunts her. There was only one opportunity to do this movie and justice was done. The track name of the final credits score, composed by Carpenter and his sons, sums this film up appropriately: Halloween Triumphant.