As a big horror fan (and Halloween in particular), the news of a new, revamped sequel was sweet. I was all in. John Carpenter gave his blessing. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) was back. The old mask was back.
Much like the Star Wars sequels or Joe Gibbs coming back to coach the Redskins after years in NASCAR, it felt like the magic may be coming back to a franchise that is famous for being all over the place. So with that, what did I think of it?
Some quick context first. Here is where I rank the various Halloween movies:
- Halloween I (Winner and Still Champion),
- II (Underrated, scary and full of inventive kills)
- Halloween RZ I – Lots of “I see what you’re doing here” moments. Gutsy attempt by Rob Zombie to provide backstory.
- III (No Michael Myers, no problem; a good idea, a good villain with some great concepts, a terrific ending)
- IV, V, VI – Meh. Chilling parts and some good character pieces, but none of the magic- and the Curse of the Thorn stuff pervades). VI has Paul Rudd’s on-screen debut.
- H2O (One of the best opening scenes in the series as Nurse Marion Chambers from I and II gets it) . . . also Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s first appearance.
- Resurrection (Another good opening scene where Laurie Strode dies in a surprise. Alas, the movie fired its best bullet too early)
- Halloween RZ II (All the subtlety of a falling anvil.)
So, where does the new Halloween 2018 fit in? Snugly after Halloween II in the third position.
Here is what is great about it:
- It acts as a sequel 40 years after the original. It cuts a lot of the fat from the sequels.
- It has a lot of elements that made Halloween II good including certain plot points.
- The soundtrack and title sequence deliver exactly what you want.
- Laurie Strode’s life wreckage, full character and her PTSD make sense. The interaction with the next two generations of her family works as she struggles with Michael Myers’ reappearance
- The look of the movie is terrific- the wide angles, the shadows, the lighting. They all harken back to the original- even when referencing other movies or going its own way. That is smart.
- The movie has some good comic elements to lighten things up. David Gordon Green and Danny McBride do some solid work here.
- It is fanboy ready. Fans of the series will have many, many “aha” moments. There are almost too many easter eggs and call backs to devices that happened in the past. They even reference the non-Michael Myers III in a clever way.
- The men in the movie are weak or fail miserably. As my friend and horror co-conspirator, Jim Harberson commented, “it seems like the writers were making a very subtle comment about the fay masculinity that is en vogue now.”
- The opening third is where the movie charts its own course with the podcast crew seeking to find answers to Michael Myers that don’t exist. It succeeds. The opening scene in the Smith’s Grove looney bin is excellent. The bathroom scene is spectacular in its own right and a great nod to H2O. The bus scene is another big winner.
- There is a lot of Michael Myers without his mask, but the movie is clever in obscuring his features.
- Comments that H2018 is The Force Awakens of the franchise are accurate. There are flips and turns from previous plot points in the series. This isn’t all bad, but for devoted fans, it gets a little predictable.
- A little gory, but not crazy, Rob Zombie gory.
- The movie has to solve a problem caused by the lack of Dr. Loomis (Donald Sutherland died just before Halloween 6 was released). The plot point around the new character was clunky.
- There are too many trailers! I borderline ruined the movie for myself because I had seen or read many dribs and drabs about it. Some of the surprises/fun/jump scares features were telegraphed by the time I got to the theater (Day 2 of release!)
- I found the ending a little unsatisfying. It’s not bad- it’s just flat. You get a blend Terminator 2 Sarah Conner meets Halloween 2. That said. if they leave the end alone it could grow on me. However, this movie is going to make so much money they will have to have a sequel.
- If you are a fan, you have to see it. There are parts (some of the kills especially) that are GREAT. Conventional wisdom says this is the second best in the series- I’m saying it’s right behind the original H2 because I love the last 20 minutes of that one.
- For the uninitiated, it’s worth it. I would make sure to see the original Halloween first- some of the in-jokes will make more sense. If you have time, see the original H2.
- To get the fuller experience out of H2018, see H1, H2, H4, H5, and H2O.
- If you want it all, add H6, Resurrection and the Zombie H1 and H2
- Save H3 as a separate snack.