Fan Fiction: Halloween 2018
It was with much trepidation and anxiety that I entered tonight’s screening of the new Halloween film. Mostly this was brought on by two things: one, there hadn’t been a decent Halloween film (in my opinion) since H20 and two, the trailer really didn’t put me at ease. In fact, the trailer made me worry more than I needed to. So I sat down, waited through what seemed like half an hour of coming attractions, and finally the lights dimmed and I was dropped back into the world of Haddonfield and Michael Myers.
So it’s forty years later and Michael is locked up and hasn’t said a word since the slaughter back in ’78. A podcast crew come by to try and interview him and pretty much set off a chain of horrific events. I won’t spoil too much except to say what you can probably already guess: Michael gets free and he heads back to his old hometown to do some killing. In the meanwhile, Laurie Strode (Jamie Leigh Curtis) is still around and she’s a burnt-out wreck of a human being. She has an estranged daughter and a granddaughter that is trying her best to reach out to old crazy grandma. Laurie never got over what happened to her and she’s kinda turned into Sarah Connor, training for her own inevitable Judgement Day. In the end, she crosses paths with Michael and chaos ensues. I’ll leave it there for the plot.
So what did I think? Well, to be honest, it never really felt like a real Halloween film. It hit the right beats and there were some cool, creative kills, but there was also a lot of winking at the camera, mostly in small scenes that inverted similar scenes from the original film. They weren’t distracting but they were too knowing for me, too much like they were saying “Hey, isn’t this cool?” Most of the kills happen off-screen and we just see the bloody aftermath, which is fine, no real complaints, because the kills we do see really were pretty good. Michael didn’t feel like Michael, though, and that’s a strange thing to say considering he’s played by the same guy as in the first film (Nick Castle/James Jude Courtney) who actually does a fine job but…I dunno, something was slightly missing. I didn’t like that they dumped all the sequels and pretended they never happened; I didn’t like that they never showed how Michael was captured in the first place; and I did not like how so many characters came and went in the movie, just kind of disappearing. There’s a kid in it that’s being babysat and he absolutely steals the show, and then he’s gone. He was a pure delight. The film also vacillated between Michael being an actual supernatural threat and just a serial killer (the same sin as the Rob Zombie version). And another complaint: since they dumped the sequels, Michael and Laurie aren’t related. This causes more problems than you might think. In the first film, Michael goes back to his hometown and pretty much focuses on Laurie and her friends. He doesn’t go from house to house just randomly killing. He’s like a laser beam. This gets explained in Halloween 2 (he’s her brother!) but since that’s out the window, this Michael doesn’t seem to have a purpose. He just kills, moving from house to house. And I guess that could be more frightening, the randomness of it, but since there’s all this history weighing down the character, it just rings hollow to me. Which leads to maybe my biggest problem: the sadism of Michael. In the first film he's more like a wraith, drifting between kills, a physical presence but also ethereal. Here he's much like the Zombie version, brutish, ugly, vicious. I understand the updating and I get what they were going for, but Michael is the Boogeyman, the Shape, not Jason.
Some positives: there’s an absolutely haunting scene at the end where Michael is staring up amidst a fiery conflagration and oh my, he does have the Devil’s eyes. Curtis is fantastic in this movie. She does a great job of playing a scarred victim. I totally believed her performance and rooted for her. The other actors are all really good, too (shout out to the kid, again!) and I was sorry to see some of them die. The pacing is good, the music is pretty damned good, and their heart was in the right place. But again, this one didn’t quite hit the mark.
In the end, this version felt like the movie Rob Zombie said he was going to make, but didn’t. In doing so, it curved far too much into fan fiction for me. This really did feel like I was watching the result of some fans smoking a joint and having a rap session about the Halloween movies. “You know what would be cool in a Halloween movie? Like, if Laurie was traumatized, and she came back to kick some ass, man.” Overall, it as a decent flick, and easily the best Halloween movie since Curse of Michael Myers, so it’s not upper-echelon Michael, but it floats somewhere in the middle. After it was over, I wasn’t disappointed, but I also didn’t come up out of my seat. Halloween 2018 is worth a looksee, but it’s not a new classic.
2 ½ Stars out of 4