Rated R – 1h 46min –Release Date: October 19, 2018 (USA)
Directed by: David Gordon Green
Written by: David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, and Jeff Fradley
Based on the characters created by John Carpenter and Debra Hill
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Judy Greer as Karen
Andi Matichak as Allyson
James Jude Courtney as The Shape
Nick Castle as The Shape
Haluk Bilginer as Dr. Sartain
Will Patton as Officer Hawkins
Rhian Rees as Dana Haines
Jefferson Hall as Aaron Korey
Poster by artist Bill Sienkiewicz
HALLOWEEN (1978) is my favorite horror film of all time, and HALLOWEEN (2018) was my most anticipated film of the year, which made my expectations sky high. Thankfully early reviews and word of mouth since its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival helped me temper those expectations into something more realistic. I say thankfully because HALLOWEEN (2018) is a good addition to the franchise, it can be one hell of a ride when it’s firing on all cylinders, but that’s despite some glaring flaws.
HALLOWEEN (2018) picks up forty years after the end of the original, with Michael Myers locked away in Smith’s Grove Sanitarium. On the eve of his transfer to another facility Aaron Korey (Jefferson Hall) and Dana Haines (Rhian Rees), two journalists and podcasters from England, visit Michael in the hopes of getting him to talk about the Halloween murders of 1978. The long silent Michael is not cooperative and shortly after The Shape escapes to once again stalk the streets of Haddonfield, leading to another confrontation with Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis).
The heart of this film is how people deal with trauma, and how that has a bearing on every single thing, and every single person, in their lives. Laurie Strode has become strong because of that night forty years ago, but at the same time she’s still dealing with the fallout of those events in unhealthy ways. Some of the best scenes from the movie are Laurie’s interactions with her estranged daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). All three of these actors shine, and I really wish the movie would have given us more build up time with them and their dysfunctional family dynamic.
I’m thrilled to say that this Michael Myers/The Shape (a returning Nick Castle and, newcomer to the franchise, James Jude Courtney) is a return to form over versions we’ve seen in other sequels. He’s back to being an unexplained, pure force of evil that is to be feared. The scenes showing his carnage, as he makes his way through Haddonfield with a shark like efficiency, will be a highlight for many fans. I hope James Jude Courtney is asked back when (yes, when not if) we get more films in the future. It also pleases me to say the mask is fantastic, and easily the best looking one since the original. Gone are the days of The Shape looking laughable instead of scary, as we devolved into with some of the sequels.
Cinematographer Michael Simmonds did a solid job making Charleston, SC look like Pasadena, CA as the new stand in for Haddonfield. I appreciated that he made some of the shots feel like the original film without entirely copying it for the movie’s duration. The music by John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel A. Davies further tied this film into HALLOWEEN (1978), and adds to the iconic legacy of Carpenter’s work.
While he’s not a conventional choice as director, I think David Gordon Green did an admiral job. So much so, in fact, I would love to see him receive further work in the horror genre. He really was given an impossible task, which makes what works well with HALLOWEEN (2018) seem all the more impressive. I will say the pacing felt off at time, especially during the middle section. That could have been an editing issue though, so I won’t lay that complaint entirely on him.
My big problems with the film reside with the script by David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, and Jeff Fradley. I liked HALLOWEEN (2018), however, it could have been a great film. There are moments of humor that fit, and some that feel very forced and out of place. We get several call backs to the original film, some of which work perfectly and some of which are the worst parts of “winking nod fan service.” I also had issues with the dialogue at certain points, mostly with one specific actor. My main complaint is regarding a plot point that is so unnecessary, so ridiculous, and so idiotic it nearly derailed everything for me. I’m honestly not sure how it stayed in the script it was so awful. What makes it even more egregious is removing this scene would have altered absolutely nothing with the events that unfold afterwards. It truly came oh so close to derailing the movie into disaster territory for me.
Rewrites to solve those problems would have made me love HALLOWEEN (2018), and it would be destined for a spot in my top three favorite films of the year. Instead it will likely land somewhere in the back half of my top ten of 2018. With that said, the showdown between Laurie Strode and The Shape was worth the forty year wait and it helped redeem the scene I loathed enough in my eyes that I left my screening with mostly positive thoughts. I do look forward to watching it again at the cinema this Thursday night. I can’t wait to chat in detail with my fellow horror fans upon the film’s release…whether they agree with me, if they outright loved the film, or even if they felt about HALLOWEEN (2018) the same way I feel about the Rob Zombie Halloween films.