- Movie Rating -

Halloween (2018)

| October 18, 2018

At the very start of the 2018 edition of Halloween, I got a brief and very exciting hint that maybe, just maybe I was about to see something new and different.  The opening scene involves two amateur journalists who arrive at Warren County Smith’s Grove Sanitarium with the express intent of interviewing Patient AA02.  A doctor escorts the two out into the exercise yard to meet this patient.  Dressed in a hospital uniform, he stands in the middle of the sun-lit yard, a hulking figure with his back to us.  He is a man in his early 60s with grey hair, but we never see his face.

For a very brief moment, I was sort of mesmerized.  Where is this going?  Is this movie going to try and unmask the legendary Michael Myers and try and understand what makes him tick?  Are we going to crack open the boogeyman and examine the person underneath?  Are we going to deal with this mindless killer on a psychological level?  Sadly no.  The moment is ruined almost immediately when one of the journalists pulls Myers’ old mask out of his bag and starts taunting him with it.  The spell is broken.  All hopes of originality are dashed and the movie launches into an opening credits sequence so silly and ill-conceived that I began to wonder if this was going to be a parody.  Truth be told, even a parody would have been enough based on what follows.

Halloween is supply and demand filmmaking, a movie that supplies you with a name-brand that you know, references to elements you’ve seen before, and repackages familiarities into a safe and reliable 104 minutes of repeats and references to stuff you remember from John Carpenter’s 1978 original.  There are original touches that update the thing so that we are assured that it is a sequel but they are so obligatory and vague that they hardly matter.  This movie isn’t interested in original touches.  It has a trajectory of getting Myers out of that sanitarium, reuniting him with his beloved William Shatner mask and sending him on a binge of killing off a cast of forgettable supporting players.

Even above the familiarity and repeating of scenes from the original, Halloween fails on the basic filmmaking level.  Despite the production crew which included John Carpenter, Jamie Lee Curtis, Danny McBride and David Gordon Green, this is a very badly constructed movie.  It is edited so badly that we are introduced to new characters almost at random.  The movie drops us in and out of scenes so quickly that often we don’t have a moment of establishment to figure out what we’re looking at or what we have just seen.  The bad editing feels as if it the movie is impatient to get to the killing parts, as if tone and mood and the establishment of characters and motivations were superfluous to those in charge of the production.

The original wasn’t like that.  Yes, Myers went on a killing spree but the audience had time to get invested in what was going on.  Carpenter and Debra Hill organized their scenes in such a way that we knew where Michael Myers was in conjunction with his victim, and then added enough air in the moment that we weren’t sure exactly when the killer would strike.  This updated version has no time for that.  Killings happen to random characters without any investment from the viewer.

One thing that does work updated version is Jamie Lee Curtis.  She returns at Laurie Strode as an agoraphobic woman whose experience with Michael Myers four decades ago has left her a shell of a human being; a woman who has caged herself in a world of automatic doors, barbed-wire fences and surveillance cameras.  Curtis has always been a fine actress, a much better actor than she is given credit for.  Unfortunately, she isn’t given a lot of time to explore the personal that Laurie has become.  Really, the movie should have been about her, not Michael.

In truth, when it was all over, I tried to imagine that in a perfect world there might be a movie produced by John Carpenter, written by Danny McBride, directed by David Gordon Green and starring Jamie Lee Curtis that had nothing to do with Michael Myers or the Halloween series.  That’s been done.  I would love to imagine these talented people getting together and making something wholly original.  Something new.  Something exciting.  Something fresh.  They’ve done it before.  I would like to imagine they could do it again.  If only.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2018) View IMDB Filed in: Horror