Author’s note: this article contains spoilers.
John Carpenter’s original “Halloween,” released in 1978, brought terror into audience’s living rooms. Michael Myers, known as “The Shape,” became a slasher icon and has lived through seven sequels and a remake series in the last four decades.
Once again, Myers returns home in the new film “Halloween” (2018), marking the 11th installment in the beloved franchise. This time, Myers is back to kill the one that got away and to finish the job he started 40 years ago.
“Halloween” (2018) hits the nail on the head with the fall-like ambiance of trick-or-treating, spooky ornaments decorating the town and a high school Halloween party. As Myers stalks his prey, the essence of Halloween radiates through the movie screen and haunts the audience.
Jamie Lee Curtis, known as Laurie Strode in the film, returns to reprise the role that began her film career when she was just 19. In the new film, Strode still lives in Haddonfield and suffers PTSD caused by the events of the original film. She is locked and loaded and awaits for Myers’ return. Having 40 years of preparation, Strode essentially booby traps her house in order to kill “the Shape” that has haunted her for the majority of her life.
“He’s waited for this night. He’s waited for me. I’ve waited for him,” said Strode in the new film.
The way Curtis portrays raw emotion when reflecting on past traumatic events strikes sympathy from the viewers. The scene where Strode interrupts a family dinner between her daughter and granddaughter is particularly riveting. In the scene, Strode breaks down in tears because of Myers’ supposed prison transfer. Even in her pain, Strode takes a stand against her attacker and frees herself from the nightmare she’s been living in by facing Myers head on.
Curtis is one of the most iconic “final girls” of all time, and she owns the screen. Besides Michael Myers, Curtis is one of the reasons “Halloween” has set the box office record for the franchise. The film brought in $77.5 million on opening weekend and is second on the all-time October box office record, according to deadline.com. The huge box office success proves the slasher genre is back, and it is predominantly due to the mastery of Blumhouse and David Gordon Green.
“Halloween” is a straightforward, nostalgia-filled sequel that pays homage to the rest of the franchise from the opening credits to the finale. It repeats many classic scenes from previous sequels while providing the viewers with small twists.
For example, the opening credits feature a smashed pumpkin reforming itself as the “Halloween” theme song plays in the background. This symbolizes a return to form for the franchise that has seen countless sequels underperform with critics.
Working as the second half to Carpenter’s original narrative, “Halloween” picks up on the 40 year anniversary of the 1978 events. On a prison transfer, Michael Myers escapes and all hell breaks loose. He picks off his victims one by one while on his way to kill the person that put him away, Laurie Strode.
The movie’s one hour and 16 minute runtime does not provide the typical scares of a modern slasher movie. A few jump scares here and there keep the audience on their toes, but the movie focuses on the terror caused by Myers. Myers kills a total of 16 people in the new film, which is 11 more than in the original. A higher body count means more gore, which includes a smashed head, proving that this film is one of the most ruthless incarnations of Myers.
“All we wanted to do was make a scary movie, and that’s all we cared about. [Halloween] is going to scare the s*** out of you,” Carpenter said in an interview with Universal Pictures.
Despite the increased number of killings, the film ” is not a kill rampage. The script written by Green, Jeff Fradley, and Danny McBride includes multiple scenes of comedic relief to break the tension. At times, the comedy is gold, especially with scenes featuring Jibrail Nantambu, but can be taken too far and can be missed timed.
Unintentional comedy can drag the film down. One cringe-worthy scene features Doctor Sartian and involves the big reveal. The execution is laughable, and it ruins the tension that is set up by wonderful cinematography and a phenomenal score by Carpenter.
The story’s time frame is a given, but Carpenter’s score brings the elements to life. The classic 1978 “Halloween” theme song is a pop culture icon. Movie fans have been infatuated with the simple yet eerie feel of the piano for four decades, but Carpenter strikes gold again. In 2018, he updates the song by using a techno approach, which gives the score a modern sound while still preserving the essence of the original. Think “Halloween” with a slight “Stranger Things” vibe.
One particular track titled “The Shape Hunts Allyson” is the perfect exemplification of how a score adds to a scene. This track leads to the final battle between Strode and Myers.
In the final battle, Strode and Myers play a game of hide and seek in the tension filled third act. Strode cleverly seals off each room of her house in her search for Myers until “The Shape” reveals himself leading to the film’s resolution. Joined by her daughter, played by Judy Greer, and her granddaughter, played by Andi Matichak, Strode is able to fend off Myers.
The climax of the horror is the strongest and most well constructed part of the film. The tension in the beginning of the movie finally reaches its climax, where in a terrific and cunning ending, Strode reaches a satisfying resolution.
Unfortunately, just like the movie retconned the majority of the franchise, it disregards the ending for a final “he’s alive” moment. Towards the end of the credits, audible breathing plays in the background as an indication that Myers lives.
“Halloween” works more like a one-off sequel rather than a franchise builder, but it looks like Blumhouse already has plans for another sequel. Either way, Myers is back and is shattering box office records. “Halloween” is even projected to break over $100 million at box office by its second weekend, according to forbes.com.
Although the movie has its flaws, such as unintentional comedy and a cop-out ending, it deserves every bit of praise. The film is enigmatic, chilling and perfect to watch this time of year. The nostalgia-filled scenes akin back to Myers’ best, while the newer, flashier scenes add a new element to an already classic character.
In the words of Strode, “Happy Halloween, Michael.”