Hot Take: Fan service to the nth degree. It’s your average horror sequel with a shot of nostalgic reverence to the horror film that started it all.
The reviews for Halloween are almost glowing. For clarity’s sake, that’s the 2018 Halloween. It’s not the original Halloween from 1978 nor is it one of the film’s 4 sequels. It’s not the 20th anniversary follow up which this film largely ignores. Nor is it either of the two reboots and it’s definitely not the sequel to the second reboot. It is, however, the 11th film in the venerable and lucrative franchise. As previously mentioned here, you’re not getting the point of view of a person who necessarily enjoys horror films here but I did respect the ’78 original which brought the Michael Myers character and essentially a genre of slasher films to life. One could argue that without Michael Myers, there’s likely no Jason Vorhees or Freddy Krueger. Despite all of this and despite the efforts of this Halloween to show reverence to its predecessor by bringing back Jamie Lee Curtis, Nick Castle (the original Michael Myers) and John Carpenter (as executive producer), for this viewer, the story felt like a retread, the paranoia of the main character all too striking in our current political state and the scares just too pedestrian for Halloween to really excite me about this latest effort to keep the franchise afloat. Now, the box office results share something different (the film had a monster $77.5 million opening weekend, the largest of any slasher film according to Box Office Mojo) and it’s likely we won’t have to wait another 20 years for a follow up based on the financial success as plans were already in the work for a sequel if the film performed well.
In the latest Halloween, a pair of true crime podcasters from England (Jefferson Hall and Rhian Rees) have gone to attempt to interview Michael Myers (Nick Castle) who hasn’t spoken since being captured after his 1978 killing spree in which Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) was the sole survivor. In an effort to get him to speak, they show him the original mask he wore during the killings which seems to give off an evil energy but Myers still does not respond. During the move from one psychiatric facility to another, Myers is able to escape. Meanwhile, Strode, now a recluse suffering from PTSD, has been preparing her entire adult life for Myers to come back. She lost custody of her daughter (Judy Greer) due to her methods of survival training and has done everything to prepare her granddaughter (Andi Matichak) for Myers’ return. Once Myers is able to hunt down the podcasters and recover the mask, his next target is Strode to finish what he started in 1978.
Despite it’s best efforts, Halloween fails to offer anything new to the genre. To be fair, it’s tough after 40 years to offer much new as it’s all been done at this point. It’s tough for the genre as the ’80s were rife with slasher films and it took the Scream film series in the mid-90s to infuse some new life into the genre. Now, it’s even tougher as the scares are tougher to achieve and the level of expectation is a bit elevated. Amongst the series, Halloween isn’t a terrible effort. I’m sure it’s perfectly fine for someone whose “go to” film is a slasher/horror flick. It’ll especially appease the Halloween junkie as it’s very respectful of it’s roots and delivers much of the look and feel of the ’70s classic that started it all. It’s a tough comparison, though, even 40 years later as the original is so well done and such a masterpiece, it’s impossible not to compare the two and realize even though the latest film is well done, it’s still not as good as the film that started it all. It would be one thing if fans of this genre were clamoring for a follow up but they’ve already had 9. So, at this point, it’s just another attempt to give the franchise another notch on it’s bedpost.
You’ve been waiting for that painted William Shatner mask to wind up back on it’s original wearer for a long time.
You just said, “Wait! It’s a William Shatner mask???” to yourself.