“Halloween” (2018) is the latest entry in the long running horror franchise that started way back in 1978 with John Carpenter’s “Halloween.” Set 40 years after the events of the first film and ignoring all of the other sequels, this story sees Michael Myers escaping containment so that he can once again wreak havoc on the citizens of Haddonfield, I.L. Now seasoned in the role, Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode must kill Michael and end his reign of terror for good.
I recently watched the original “Halloween” in preparation for this new one, and while it is not perfect, the film is still a great micro-budget horror milestone that was elevated by masterful direction. I also watched “Halloween II” since it takes place right where the first film ended and is a fairly underrated horror as its director, Rick Rosenthal, kept a similar suspenseful atmosphere of the predecessor. Unfortunately, this long-awaited sequel/reboot, which I was also anticipating, did not live up to the massive amount of hype that followed.
Whereas the technical achievements of John Carpenter’s “Halloween” inspired generations of horror filmmakers, this new feature is a mixed bag on that front despite having a much bigger budget of $10 million in comparison to the original’s mere $300,000. “Halloween” (2018) is the first horror movie for director David Gordon Green, who is primarily known for comedies such as “Pineapple Express” and dramas such as 2011’s “Joe” starring Nicolas Cage. While I have not seen his other movies, I did not feel that he was the right choice for this reboot. For starters, he doesn’t capture the tense atmosphere of Carpenter’s original classic outside of a few cool sequences. Many scenes that take place in the day are filmed and edited as if they were part of a comedy, specifically with how overly lit they are, but at least Green and the cinematographer are able to capture some ominous shots of Michael in the dark. There are also brutal kills that did not feel gratuitous and made the movie more entertaining. Best of all, John Carpenter, with the help of his son Cody and musician Daniel Davies, returned to compose the score for “Halloween” (2018), and it is one of the movie’s better elements. Carpenter creates an eerie synth-heavy score in the vein of the original that also adds new instruments such as electric guitars to elevate the intensity.
I have even more issues with the mostly uninteresting characters in “Halloween” (2018) partly because there are too many of them. Obviously, the first character I must discuss is Michael Myers himself. The main reason I love the silent and slow-moving character of Michael Myers in the first film is because it never truly explains why he kills people and why he is so hard to kill. Thankfully, the filmmakers of “Halloween” (2018) understand how essential this mysteriousness is to Myers and keeps it intact for the movie, which is how he stays scary even after 40 years. They also keep Michael’s calculating nature, another trait that I love about Myers, since throughout the movie he studies his victims before sneaking up on and killing them. Jamie Lee Curtis is also terrific as an older, more paranoid Laurie Strode who is still scarred from her last encounter with The Shape and has prepared for his inevitable return ever since. As a result, Laurie has become isolated from the people she cares about, specifically her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) who has an uneasy relationship with her mother. This PTSD angle sounds fresh and inventive but is not as present in the story as I hoped. Instead, the movie focuses on several other characters, such as Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) who takes focus away from Laurie when she should not even appear in the movie. However, I do want to shout out young actor Jibrail Nantambu who plays a kid that Allyson’s friend is babysitting because his scenes are by far the funniest in the movie.
Some of my biggest problems with “Halloween” (2018) come down to the screenplay, which is narratively all over the place. Danny McBride, who co-wrote this screenplay with Green, explained that they are big “Halloween” fans and wanted to take the series back to its roots with this new installment. While I give the duo points for trying, since they do at least come up with some good ideas, I do not think they were the right choice for this reboot. Where the original was this contained story that hardly left any downtime in between the suspense, numerous unnecessary and underdeveloped subplots bog down “Halloween” (2018) when it should primarily focus on how Laurie struggles with her PTSD and how she is trying to reconcile with her daughter amid these difficult situations. After a while, it goes from being a “Halloween” movie to being a run-of-the-mill slasher except with less sex and weed smoking. The movie also includes several nods to the original “Halloween” that are only there for the nostalgia, although one or two of them actually felt subversive. One of the few new elements in this movie is that there is more humor—not surprising since the people involved are mostly known for comedy—which is giggle-worthy at best. Without spoilers, there is a wildly stupid twist in the third act that is so random and is resolved way too quickly to the point where I am wondering how it even received approval. Although I did enjoy the movie’s climax, I still felt that the ending was abrupt and unsatisfying in comparison. Similarly, I know I said that keeping Michael Myers mysterious made him scary again, but considering that “Halloween” (2018) takes place 40 years after the original and ignores all of the other sequels, it never truly explains how Myers was caught outside of one or two hints because anyone would know that killing him is much easier than apprehending him.
Despite all of the criticisms, “Halloween” (2018) is not a bad movie, but it is definitely an underwhelming one. It has some redeeming qualities, but this soft reboot still has too many flaws to make me like it even when I desperately wanted to. Anyone looking for an entertaining horror movie will probably enjoy “Halloween” (2018) while those looking for a worthy sequel to the first film should just watch the “Halloween II” from 1981 instead.