Nine times out of ten, horror sequels suck. For John Carpenter’s Halloween, none of the follow-ups ever did the original justice. Rob Zombie tried his luck with two reimagined films in 2007 and 2009, but both failed to capture the essence of Michael Myers, choosing to humanise him rather than treat him as the evil entity he is.
To say anyone was excited for David Gordon Green’s Halloween would be the understatement of the century. After all the miserable reboots and revivals in recent years, this seemed doomed to straight to VOD. Green, though, had other plans and constantly proclaimed he’d respect the source material. He did two smart things. First, he ignored all the sequels after the 1978 classic, including the atrocious Halloween: Resurrection with Busta Rhymes. Second, he and his team ran their idea past Carpenter, who gave it his blessing and involved himself.
Even so, did 2018’s Halloween manage to break the curse of sequelitis?
Oh, yes, it did. Rolling back the clock to a different time, this horror feels like something from a forgotten era. Think of the charm of Stranger Things blended with the menace of the original Carpenter slasher, as it captures what made the genre so addictive with the likes of Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th. You can’t help but be transported to a simpler period in horror cinema as Green embraces the franchise’s roots and takes it back to basics.
In terms of the scares, it plays more on Michael’s fear factor than jump-scares. Of course, there are those moments when he pops out of nowhere and makes your heart race a little faster than the time when your parents saw your browser history, but the best ones utilise the “look, he’s behind you” approach. Knowing he’s there and no one can do anything about it is what terrifies and unsettles you. Undoubtedly, the score by Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies contributes to this as it combines the disturbing classical theme with some newer variations.
If you’re expecting a deep storyline, or something that works on dual levels like Hereditary, you’ll be disappointed here. It’s relatively simple and gets the tale moving to the action as soon as possible. Set in current times, 40 years after the Haddonfield murders, Laurie Strode still suffers psychological trauma from that fateful night. It’s ripped her life apart as she’s experienced failed marriages and her family treats her as the kooky grandmother. In fact, her arc is one of the most interesting aspects of the film, showing how although she didn’t die, Michael still destroyed her life. Speaking of which, the Shape resides in a sanatorium, but as you can expect, he escapes and is soon carving up the town like pumpkins.
While many will be expecting the film to provide 100 minutes of scares, this isn’t what Halloween is – or was ever – about. This is a monster movie, where the monster is the scariest of the lot: man. That alone is frightening enough.
Halloween doesn’t try to be smarter than what it is. With many horrors, there’s a desire to give the killer a set-in-stone motive or employ some massive twist that’ll be the ah-ha moment for the audience. By refusing to do so, Green and his collaborators show they truly understand what this franchise is about. Michael doesn’t need a reason to kill; he does it because he’s the human embodiment of evil.
Green and his collaborators show they truly understand what this franchise is about. This is a monster movie, where the monster is the scariest of the lot: man.