Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner, Nick Castle, James Jude Courtney, Jefferson Hall, Rhian Rees, Toby Huss, Haluk Bilginer, Dylan Arnold, Miles Robbins, Drew Scheid, Jibrail Nantambu, Michael Harrity, William Matthew Anderson, Diva Tyler, Brien Gregorie, Vince Mattis, Omar Dorsey and PJ Soles.
Screenplay by Jeff Fradley & Danny McBride & David Gordon Green.
Directed by David Gordon Green.
Distributed by Universal Pictures. 105 minutes. Rated R.
I know what a lot of people – myself included – are thinking. Why another Halloween movie?
After all, in the 40 years since John Carpenter’s original film – which was a truly great horror film that deserves its classic status – a long, seemingly-unending series of sequels and reboots has trailed behind. Carpenter not only accidentally created the slasher film with the original – which was not just a good horror film, but it was a very good film, period – he also set loose an entire genre of Halloween films.
There were seven sequels in the original series: Halloween II (1981), Halloween III: The Season of the Witch (1982), Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988), Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989), Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) and Halloween: Resurrection (2002). One didn’t even bother to include the series’ renowned bogeyman Michael Myers – the awful Halloween III: The Season of the Witch was a separate stand-alone story, and one of three movies I have ever walked out on in my life.
Then, if that wasn’t enough, in 2007, metal singer-turned-filmmaker Rob Zombie did a reboot, his own remake of the original. And of course, being a Halloween film, that spawned a sequel, again called Halloween II, in 2009.
So, that’s ten Halloween movies over a space of a little over 30 years. Sadly, not even one was even close to being as good a film as the original. Plus, there was a series of graphic novels, internet sites, a video game and novelizations of many of the films. That should be enough, right?
Now, less than a decade on since the last Halloween film, Michael Myers is being resurrected yet again. The new Halloween reboot is not a remake, it is intended as a sequel of the original. (Awkwardly, that means both the original and the sequel have the same exact title.)
And, also strangely, the new Halloween is brought to us by David Gordon Green and Danny McBride, filmmakers who are known more for comedy than for horror. They had previously worked together on things like Pineapple Express, Your Highness and the HBO series Eastbound and Down.
Stranger and stranger.
Right off the bat, Green and McBride ask a huge favor of the audience. They want us all to forget all the other Halloween films besides the original. As much as I would love to do that, they do exist. You can have your own beliefs but not your own facts. It’s not even the first time this particular request has happened in Halloween-land; the H20 movie completely ignored the existence of Halloween 4 to 6. (And everyone has ignored Halloween III.)
Okay, fine – we’ll pretend it was all just a dream.
The good news is: The new Halloween is probably the best of the movies that we’re pretending never happened that followed in the original’s wake.
The bad news is: It’s still not even close to being as good as the original.
The new Halloween is a mixture of legit horror film and post-modern tribute. It has its tongue planted firmly in its cheek, offering up multiple Easter eggs for long-time fans of the first film. It works better as a tribute than as a horror film, though it does have some significant jump scares.
The graphic violence is significantly ramped up from the already extremely-graphic original, almost to a comic effect. A scene of Michael smashing a man’s skull with his boot has the unfortunate effect of looking a little ridiculous rather than scary. (Though nothing comes close to the extreme sensory overload of Rob Zombie’s über-violent takes on the story.)
Forgetting the film’s pulp roots, though, sexuality is almost completely excised from the new film. The teen victims aren’t looking to get laid in this film, they are just looking to make out and smoke some weed. (One soon-to-be ex-character did promise her boyfriend that she would “dry fuck” him.) There is only one brief nude shot in this film – and that is a flashback clip of Michael’s first kill from the original film. And even that older footage is cut in rather chastely.
There are three characters from the 1978 film – much older versions of the heroine Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis – in her fifth performance as the character), the heroic cop Frank Hawkins (Will Patton) and of course Michael Myers (again played by Nick Castle, the first actor to play “The Shape”). The original Doctor Loomis, played by the late Donald Pleasance, is mentioned a few times in passing and an old audiotape of him speaking about Myers was done by an imitator. Also, as another nod to the original, actress PJ Soles, who played one of Laurie’s teen besties who was killed off in the first film, reappears here in a cameo as a teacher.
The new Halloween is more of a nostalgic celebration of the original than an actual horror film, and frankly that is one of the movie’s selling points. Imagine one of the earlier follow-ups, but more literate, funny and self-aware, and you have a pretty good idea of the vibe of the new movie.
If it sometimes feels more like a museum piece – or a theme park attraction – than an actual horror film, maybe that’s okay. Many of the shots, sets and kills strongly echo the original, which gives the movie a sense of fun and even a bit of whimsy. This Halloween is one for the fans. If it is not ever going to be a classic like its namesake, it is mostly a step in the right direction for a franchise that has been lost and stumbling for decades. It’s certainly the best film with the Halloween moniker since 1978.
I just hope that they rethink the sequel that co-writer McBride has been threatening. You did your job in making Michael Myers a bogeyman for a new millennium. Now just move on. How can we miss the series if it won’t go away?
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2018 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 19, 2018.