MOVIE REVIEW — Halloween (2018)
Truth be told, prior to seeing this film I had only seen the original 1978 Halloween movie. That means for me, the last I saw of Slasher-icon Michael Meyers, he was falling off of a balcony before disappearing some 40 years ago. From what I understand the sequels were hit or miss for most, as were the Rob Zombie reboot films as well. With that being said, clearly I am not the biggest Halloween franchise fanatic, but boy did I love the hell out of this movie!
When I first heard that Danny McBride and David Gordon Green were doing a Halloween sequel/reboot, I’d be lying if I said my interest wasn’t peaked. I had loved each of their previous collaborations with Pineapple Express, Eastbound and Down, and Vice Principals (seriously, this show specifically is so very underappreciated), and yet I was still only cautiously optimistic about this outing. Now that is for an obvious reason, being that these two have never tackled the horror genre (besides McBride’s turn in 2013’s horror comedy This is The End) and for the most part have stuck to straight up comedy. However, that peaked curiosity turned to them having my full attention when I heard that Jamie Lee Curtis would return once again as the famed “scream queen” heroine, Laurie Strode, and that original director John Carpenter had signed off on the film personally, and would return to produce and compose the movie. Blumhouse was set to produce the film, and it was announced that the story would retcon all the sequels and be a direct sequel to the original 1978 horror classic. All of the pieces were aligning for this sequel to truly be something special.
A quick little side-note on Blumhouse Productions. This is quite the interesting smaller-scale production company. While they mainly stick to the horror genre, they’ve also been the company behind critical gems such as Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash and Jordan Peele’s Get Out (more of a thriller than a horror film). I personally had no recollection of Blumhouse being behind Whiplash of all the possible movies, but found it out earlier this year and was actually shocked to say the least, but it is an interesting fact nonetheless.
It seems as if Blumhouse will have another critical and commercial hit with Halloween, seeing as the movie has garnered resoundingly positive reviews, and as of this writing, has grossed around $172 Million dollars.
Having seen Pineapple Express, and being an avid supporter of both Vice Principals and Eastbound and Down, I will for the most part, always support both David Gordon Green and Danny McBride, especially when partnered together. With that being said, I had literally no idea what to expect with this film. McBride had starred in horror-comedy This is The End, which focused more on laughs rather than scares.
However, with Vice Principals there was a plot-line dealing with a masked almost-killer that could be compared to a slasher villain, though this masked figure used a gun rather than a blade.While the show only lasted 2 seasons, this whole story line played out really interestingly, leading to McBride’s character occasionally being legitimately terrified seeing hallucinations of his assailant appear randomly, leading to some actual dark and scary moments in an otherwise hilarious show.
Watching this trailer back while writing this review, it actually is pretty crazy how comparable this is to the new Halloween movie, with McBride’s character building a “fortress” complete with booby traps to try and best his masked attacker.
So, finally beginning to talk about the movie itself, the cast of this movie is easily one of is strongest aspects. The majority of the characters have great chemistry throughout the film, leading to a lot of really outstandingly executed comedic scenes, as well as some more touching moments later in the film between the Strode family.
As mentioned earlier, this film marked the return of Jamie Lee Curtis in the role of Laurie Strode, but also the return of Nick Castle donning the Michael Meyers costume for the first time since the original film. Along with them, Judy Greer plays Karen, Laurie's daughter, Toby Huss as Karen’s Husband Ray, and Andi Matichak as Laurie’s granddaughter Alyson rounding out the Strode family. The standout new character for me was the child Vicky was babysitting, Julian (Jibrail Nantambu). That kid nailed every joke he had and stole his scenes with all the charisma a child actor is capable of having. Miles Robbins was also great as teenager Dave and the same goes for Virginia Gardner as Vicky.
The directing and camerawork in this film were both outstanding, with a lot of long takes and wonderful cinematography, leading to several truly iconic moments. Moments like The Shape’s first two kills once back on the loose in Haddonfield, part of one extended long take that is truly a captivating moment (presumably featured in most other reviews), or the scene with the motion sensors in the backyard, or the extremely tense scene in which Laurie is surveying her fortress-like home, closing each room off after checking for Michael. This is a movie built upon moments, moments that stick with you long past the credits are finished rolling.
The cinematography in the film’s opening at the mental institution was also really well done, with the same being said for the bus crash scene.
The film’s score is also one of the highlights. John Carpenter did return to score this, working alongside his daughter Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies. The usage of the original Halloween theme song throughout the film in different and unique ways is amazing, and occasionally sent chills down my spine.
Halloween manages to feel fresh, but also very much like a throwback to the first film, largely in part due to the setting and cast, but also thanks in part to the score. The film also features traditional opening credits, in the same style and font as the original film, however the Jack-O-Lantern here is shown rotting in reverse, as if to symbolize the reanimation of the Halloween franchise.
With all the positives out of the way, for me, there were two big downsides to this film, the first being the character of Doctor Sartain (played by Haluk Bilginer). Without trying to spoil anything (meaning this is going to sound very vague), the actor portraying him played the part well, and really sold his obsession with Michael, but the late movie plot twist with him just fell flat for me, and actually took me out of the story for a bit, up until they pulled that out from under the audience and went back to Michael.
The second is one that probably a lot more people had, and that was the trailers. This is one of the worst cases of trailers giving away too much prior to the film’s release. Having only watched two trailers for this movie, I still felt that while watching this I had seen too much of it already over the course of the previews. The only reason I feel as if this is slightly forgivable is that they were really trying to sell this movie, both to casual audiences and to hardcore fans that had become disenfranchised with the series after 10 installments, each seemingly alienating more and more fans. So if you look at it from that standpoint, the trailer problem feels less of a blatant failure, and more of a mere marketing mistake.
However, that was really the only part of the movie that did not sit with me positively. I also would have preferred if Alyson's boyfriend got his comeuppance, but that was forgivable, and can theoretically be taken care of if this film does end up getting a sequel (which it does seem like it will, given it’s record-breaking performance at the box office).
As a whole, I thought the 2018 Halloween was a truly great film, and even though I have only seen the original film, I feel as if this is a proper follow-up to a classic horror film, also standing solidly on its own. I am hopeful that David Gordon Green and Danny McBride will return to helm a sequel, with Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle both hopefully returning to their iconic roles once more (even if this was billed as their final confrontation). As for Blumhouse, Jason Blum has gone on record saying he would love to bring back other classic slasher films to the screen, and after seeing this new Halloween film, it would be hard to argue against him trying to *properly* reboot either Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street.