For October 31, I celebrated by going to the theaters to watch some movies, and the most thematically appropriate movie I watched that day was Halloween (2018). How does it hold up to the original 1978 classic? Why didn’t they just call it Halloween II? That’s what we’ll be talking about in this review. There will be minor spoilers.
What’s Halloween 2018?
Halloween (2018) is a direct sequel to the first Halloween movie in 1978 and takes place exactly 40 years after the original and brings back Laurie Strode as an older and much more competent character, much like how Halloween:H20 (1998) did, only that one takes place 20 years after the original. Halloween (2018) ignores all the crap after the first Halloween (1978), so that means Laurie Strode isn’t Michael’s sister, nor did she die in Halloween:Resurrection (2002) to be replaced by rapper Busta Rhymes. Yes, this actually happened.
As it stands, Halloween (2018) is not the first Halloween to ignore other movies in the franchise besides the first one, as Halloween IV through VI completely ignores Halloween III: Season of the Witch (which in turn ignored Halloween I and II), and Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007) which is its own thing but also had its own Halloween II (2009). Presumably, they called this Halloween (2018) as simply “Halloween” so that more audiences will walk into it without any confusion, as they don’t want audiences to think that they need to watch the first one, nor think that it’s a remake of Halloween II (1981) or Halloween II (2009), ignoring the fact that it’s already confusing since Halloween (1978) and Halloween (2007) already exist.
The Halloween franchise is stupid.
However, despite that confusing mess of sequels,spin-offs and reboots, Halloween 2018 manages to stand above the rest and give the classic 1978 movie the respect it deserves and never completely got from any of the sequels. It finally captures the one thing that every sequel refuses to get about The Shape. The Shape doesn’t care about Laurie Strode, or cults, or family. All it cares about is killing people for no real reason. I will actually come out and say that I find this movie to be on par with the original. It is definitely not a perfect movie, there are some very clunky plot points, and some unnecessary humor in spots, but it is overall a wonderful book end to Laurie Strode’s arc in Halloween (1978).
First, let’s talk about Laurie Strode and her family, the main heroes of this movie.
In this movie, Laurie Strode (played by Jamie Lee Curtis) is a shut-in paranoid old woman who is estranged from her daughter and granddaughter because she has never gotten over that horrible night in 1978. An aspect I like about this movie is how they show Laurie as not some snarky, badass grandma, but a completely broken and tragic figure. Her obsession with Michael Myers has destroyed her life, and the movie is not shy about showing us the effects of it on her family life. She is the stalker of her own family, complete with shots reminiscent of the same way Michael stalked her in the first movie.
She never really moved on from being a scared teenager deep down inside, and she extends that same fear to her family, who want none of it.
The daughter and granddaughter of Laurie (played respectively by Judy Greer and Andi Matichak) are also a focus in this movie, as they have lived fairly normal lives in defiance of Laurie’s paranoia, and for the most part, they were absolutely correct to do so. They are both played decently, although I wish the movie had shown a lot more of their dynamic with Laurie instead of focusing on the granddaughter’s school life.
Of course, we know that Laurie Strode was correct to be afraid, because Michael Myers is back, and ready to settle the score!
But not really. Without spoiling anything major, another aspect I liked about this movie was that Michael Myers was killing completely at random. He doesn’t go looking for Laurie Strode specifically, and as a matter of fact, when he DOES encounter her, he reacts about as much as you expect: stony silence. The Shape doesn’t hold grudges, or hell, even remember faces. He just kills, and that’s what makes it scary.
This has also got to be my favorite Michael Myers out of all the movies in the franchise, and that’s thanks to the new actor playing The Shape, James Jude Courtney. This portrayal of Michael combines the stealthiness and quiet,menacing aura that the original 1978 version had, while also taking elements of the raw physicality he had in Rob Zombie’s Halloween.
He’s like a tiger in the dark stalking its prey. You feel eyes staring at your back with menace, that slow creeping feeling that something’s going to get you but you can’t quite see where it’s gonna come from, then before you know it, the beast lunges and tears you apart.
John Carpenter has finally returned to make the score for this long-awaited proper sequel, and he does not hold anything back. This is BETTER than the original movie’s already amazing score, because it not only does a great job of emulating the ambience of the original score, it also adds a lot of modern twists to tried-and-true horror tracks, making it unique. You know it’s a great score when the best song isn’t even the iconic theme, but this specific track called The Shape Hunts Allyson. It’s completely original and yet it still fits perfectly with the atmosphere of Halloween. If nothing else, this movie is worth seeing for the score and sound design alone.
Like I said, it’s not a perfect movie. There are a lot of scenes that honestly felt like padding, a flaw that the original never had, making this sequel feel a bit more bloated. In addition, while the fact that Michael Myers is a random killing machine is awesome, it also presents a conundrum for the writers as to why and how he should care about some chick from 40 years ago, one who he has no idea is even still alive. It leads to a very badly written scene to happen, one that honestly felt like the writers going ” OH CRAP, HOW THE HELL ARE THEY GOING TO MEET?” and just making stuff up to connect the two separate halves of the movie, that being the Laurie side and Michael side.
Also, as with every horror movie, this has some dumb characters. You will definitely be screaming some obscenities doubting the intelligence of characters on screen. Speaking of dumb, while the movie’s humor, to its credit, works for the most part, it kills the tension in some areas of the movie. In particular, after an intense and terrifying scene, it cuts back to two characters bantering about their boxed lunches, only to go back to the intense scene without warning. It’s so stupid and forced, but thankfully, that was the only moment of humor that stood out to me in an otherwise wonderful movie.
Halloween (2018) is not perfect, and the very few parts that are bad are glaringly bad, but the things they do well, they do incredibly well. Like I mentioned, Michael Myers is finally terrifying again, the score is fantastic, Laurie and her family are well-written characters with interesting stories about how one tragedy has affected all of them, and it is a perfect movie to watch right after watching the original Halloween.
I give Halloween (2018) a 4 out of 5 knife stabs out of 5.