Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Jim Courtney, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Nick Castle
Directed by David Gordon Green
The Halloween franchise has very much been a “choose your own adventure” affair. Want more of the same night he came home? Watch 1981’s Halloween II. Wanna catch up with Laurie Strode? Seek out H20. What would have happened if Strode had a little girl and Michael found out about her? Jamie Lloyd is ready to go running and screaming into the protective arms of Sam Loomis. In the mood to follow the Curse of Thorn? There are two very different versions of Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers. You can even ditch Myers altogether if you want and settle in for a night filled with the nefarious plans of an evil warlock. Hell, there are even two rough and tumble “gritty” versions of Myers’ rampage to feast upon which follow The Shape from his pre-teen years to adulthood. This all brings us to right now – 2018 – and a new path of destruction that The Boogeyman is more than ready to carve.
David Gordon Green’s Halloween makes its own way in the franchise by forsaking the events of everything that’s come before it in favor of something new. Something that takes place 40 years after the horrific events of John Carpenter’s 1978 masterpiece. This iteration of Laurie Strode has come a long way. She’s not in hiding. She’s no longer afraid of the force of nature that is Michael Myers. Instead, she, like The Shape, has been waiting patiently… for the next night that HE came home.
And come home he does thanks to some meddling and prodding by two podcast hosts and Myers’ own curious psychiatrist, Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer). Said hosts, played by Rhian Rees and Jefferson Hall, visit Myers (played by Nick Castle when unmasked and Jim Courtney when masked) at Smith’s Grove to try to get a rise from him by demanding a reaction to a certain William Shatner-looking trigger object. They’re doing so for the latest edition of their true crime podcast, which is very much akin to Serial. Even though Myers displays no emotion or reaction at all, let’s just say that they should have left well enough alone.
It’s not long before The Shape makes his escape, and Haddonfield is once again in his sights. There’s just one thing standing in his way… a VERY ready Laurie Strode (Curtis), accompanied by her daughter, Karen (Greer), and her granddaughter, Allyson (Matichak). Is Michael ready for three generations of Strodes? OF COURSE HE IS!
After 40 years, his pent-up aggression is at an all-time high; and once freed, he spews carnage like a freshly burst ultra-violent volcano. Myers is focused, mean, and taking no prisoners. I always found the notion of Myers just being evil far scarier than any of the past explanations for his rage. This is the killer we fell in love with back in 1978. He’s in top form, he’s absolutely savage, and most of all… he’s scary as hell. Courtney portrays The Shape with great menace, but there’s no question here… it’s Jamie Lee that is still the star of the show. Her character… where she’s been… her current attitude, it’s all very compelling thanks to a great script from director Green, Danny McBride, and Jeff Fradley. They give Curtis, who already has acting chops for days, a good bit of meat to sink her more than waiting teeth into; and it’s just as impossible to take your eyes off Strode as it is Myers. Watching them clash again… to this degree… is quite simply a gift for fans.
But that’s not the only gift… John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel A. Davies’ score for Halloween is a living, breathing slice of auditory awesome. This isn’t just a “cue the music and let Myers rampage” kind of affair. Every note ringing in your ears here is wonderfully deliberate. It’s a vital part of this nightmarish ecosystem all its own; and just like in the original film decades ago, it makes the entire experience that much more of a frightening adrenaline rush.
Green is obviously a fan of the first film, as are the other folks behind this tale like Ryan Turek, Jason Blum, and of course Malek Akkad himself. This shows on the screen and permeates the entire production. Watching Halloween 2018 is very much akin to putting on your favorite sweater. There’s a ton of callbacks to other films in the franchise, and you can literally feel the passion for this project as it unfolds onscreen. I will say this, however… at least for me, there is a moment where things seem to veer a little bit dangerously off the rails, but rest assured they get back on bloody track in a hurry, and at the end of the day this film delivers everything that we could have hoped for in a sequel.
Halloween 2018 has a lot going for it and, as it stands, eclipses the other installments in the franchise with ease, with the possible exception of Rick Rosenthal’s Halloween II, which will always have a special place in the hearts of fans. Back in 1978 a young little boy named Richie scared Tommy Doyle by teasing, “The Boogeyman is coming.” Yes. Yes, he is. And I am SO GLAD to have him back.