Halloween (2018) reviewed by Jonathan Berk

Halloween (2018) comes forty years and ten films after John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978), erasing everything that happened in between the two films, making it – technically – Halloween 2. Like in real life, forty years have passed since Michael Myers attacked Haddonfield, killing five people. Laurie Strode was the sole survivor of this night – but since then, her life has been shrouded in the shadow of The Shape.

Halloween works as a sequel

Michael Myers is being transferred to a new mental institution…on the night before Halloween, for some reason…when he manages to escape. Laurie Strode has been awaiting this opportunity to kill the monster who once tried to kill her. Her obsession has cost her relationship with her daughter, Karen (Judy Greer), and her granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak) – but Myers’s escape offers her a chance to validate her choices. The two are destined to clash again, forty years after their last battle ended in a draw.

There are two key sequences in this new sequel that totally justify its existence. The first has been shown in the latest trailers: it begins with two trick-or-treaters walking into Michael Myers. The camera tracks Michael as he walks towards a shed and moves slightly to pick up a hammer. It continues to follow him into the house of an older lady. His stalking presence is so demented and scary that the choice to make it a long take forces us to feel like an accomplice to the crime. While this murder happens out of frame as we hang back in the other room, he re-enters our sightline, dropping the hammer and picking up an iconic butcher knife. The sequence doesn’t end here as it does in the trailer, as Michael continues forth on his initial journey of mayhem that we are tagging along for. I loved this sequence so much, and I think it really showcases how terrifying this character can be. He is remorseless, and is able to just blend into the chaos of the evening.

This film makes a number of meta jokes and specific references to the first film. Fans of the franchise will catch a lot – many made as criticisms of the choices made in those other entries – but if you’ve at least seen the first film, you’ll definitely get the comparison of the other stand out sequence. Michael Myers is the babysitter murderer, so this film has to have a babysitter sequence. Allyson’s friend, Vicky (Virginia Gardner) is missing the Halloween ball at their high school, because she is babysitting Julian (Jibrail Nantambu). Their banter is definitely a result of the writers (David Gordon Green and Danny McBride) comedic sensibilities. However, as the scene continues and Michael Myers enters into the dynamic, it becomes very intense and is well-executed. Julian manages to get several laughs during his limited time in the movie, and it’s definitely one of the best scenes in the film.

Unfortunately, there are several story arcs that are completely useless. The film suffers from a few too many characters that the film tries to give a bit of time too. Officer Hawkins (Will Patton), Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer), Allyson’s boyfriend Cameron (Dylan Arnold), and the two “journalists”, Dana Haines (Rhian Rees) and Aaron Korey (Jefferson Hall), essentially fill in the gaps from the last forty years as a good chunk of time given to them all. This leaves a little less time for the main story of Michael and Laurie, but that’s not the major oversight – it feels as if there still isn’t enough time to develop Karen or Allyson as much as the two character’s importance warrants. The three generations of Strode is a compelling aspect of the movie, but there appear to be a few missteps here due to the other stories.

Final thoughts…

Halloween was ultimately an entertaining sequel to a horror classic. The movie definitely pays homage to Carpenter’s original, and his return to the score seems to signify his approval of this entry. While I don’t love the ending of the film, there are some really cool choices made that I can respect. Halloween earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.

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