As with all review-caps, MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD! You’ve been warned.
I consider myself one of John Carpenter’s biggest fans. So any time I hear about another prequel/sequel/reboot/remake of one of his films, I get instantly annoyed – like The Thing prequel? Remember that? Or The Fog? Yeah, they sucked. As have all the sequels to Halloween. Even Rob Zombie’s ambitious remake and sequel ultimately weren’t as good as the original.
Which brings us to this latest sequel – one that I wasn’t hopeful for at all, even with Carpenter’s and Jamie Lee Curtis’ involvement. The Halloween franchise in particular has suffered from such bad handling over the decades, that just the mention of resurrecting it yet again hurts the ears. But then I saw the first trailer and saw Jamie Lee Curtis putting her all into her performance – I was so impressed by her that I had to at least give it a shot. And I’m happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed. Not only did writer/director David Gordon Green, writers Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley ignore all the sequels (and the whole idea of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode being related), they brought Halloween back to its scary basics.
So it’s forty years after the original’s events, when Michael Myers murdered five people in Haddonfield, Illinois and tried his damndest to murder Laurie Strode (Curtis), who became one of horror’s original “final girls” when she managed to evade and even injure Michael – though in the end, it was Michael’s psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis, who shot him and sent him plummeting out a second-story window. Of course, Michael managed somehow to disappear – either because he was the original Terminator or because, as the story often suggested, he was the Boogeyman.
As the new sequel picks up, Michael’s been incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital for the past forty years and is about to be moved to a lower-cost facility when a couple of serial-killer obsessed podcasters (Rhian Rees, Jefferson Hall) show up to do an interview. They do everything they possibly can to provoke Michael, including showing him his trademark mask – but nothing seems to work. His new psychiatrist, Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer) vows to stay with Michael until he gets to the new facility and even boards the prisoner transport bus with him.
Meanwhile, life has gone on for Laurie Strode, although not very well. She’s an alcoholic survivalist with unresolved PTSD, agoraphobic and estranged from her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), who resents her for raising her in an isolated compound, where life was all about preparing for Michael’s eventual return – which nobody but Laurie ever thought would happen. Granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) has a more sympathetic attitude and keeps up a secret relationship with Laurie, but it still makes for awkward and extremely strained relations all around.
But then of course, the prison transport bus crashes and Michael gets loose. Unlike the other sequels, this time the cops don’t need to be convinced of Michael’s threat to the public, because Sheriff Hawkins (Will Patton) was around for his first killing spree. And after Michael makes quick work of the podcasters at a nearby gas station and gets his mask back, it’s all hands on deck to stop him – including Dr. Sartain, who barely survived the crash – and especially Laurie, who wastes no time unleashing her inner Sarah Connor and gathering her family to make sure they’re safe.
Trouble is, it’s Halloween night and Allyson’s at a party with her boyfriend (Dylan Arnold), which she then ditches after said boyfriend turns out to be a tool. So now they have to find her – and in the meantime, Michael’s tromping his way through Haddonfield in and amongst the crowds of trick-or-treaters, killing at will. He goes after Allyson’s friends Vicky (Virginia Gardner) and Dave (Miles Robbins), which gives us the classic setup from the original. And it’s actually done very well here, even though we all know the dope-smoking, sex-obsessed teens are toast – and that’s mostly because of the awesome kid Vicky’s babysitting, Julian (Jibrail Natambu) – he’s hilarious.
Luckily, Sheriff Hawkins manages to find Allyson and by stroke of luck, run into (and over) Michael with his truck. Problem is, it seems Dr. Sartain has other ideas – instead of hauling Michael in, he offs poor Sheriff Hawkins (in a weird and random turn that had me really worried for a minute about the rest of the movie), convinced that Michael and Laurie must have their confrontation. Allyson manages to get away, but Dr. Sartain isn’t so lucky.
Then it’s down to the last fateful act, as Michael hijacks the Sheriff’s truck (just an aside: I really wish they had thrown in something about how Michael managed to learn to drive when he’s been locked up since he was six) and hauls it out to Laurie’s compound. At this point is where the flick is the most fun, becoming a scary game of cat-and-mouse where Laurie’s in control (and in several trademark shots throughout, actually takes Michael’s place), and Michael’s at the mercy of the many traps she’s laid – and at the very end, at the mercy of all the Strode women, who take back their power and their lives from the Boogeyman.
While I wouldn’t call this the greatest thing ever – it’s still kind of sloppy in places and doesn’t offer much that’s new – I would certainly say that Halloween is a huge relief in that it’s finally the sequel that the original movie deserves. It gives Laurie’s character her resolution and Jamie Lee Curtis is absolutely brilliant. Above all, it makes Halloween scary again – and that’s what it’s really all about, isn’t it?
Directed by: David Gordon Green
Written by: David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, Jeff Fradley
Release Date: Oct. 19, 2018
Run Time: 1hr 46 min
Distributor: Universal Pictures / Blumhouse Productions