Review by Thad Timothy; Writer, Cult Classic Horror
Review Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Nick Castle, Judy Greer, Will Patton, Andi Matichak
Written and Directed by: David Gordon Green, Danny McBride & Jeff Fradley based on characters created by John Carpenter and Debra Hill.
Normally my reviews begin with an overview of the story and its reception but as I sat down to write this I realized that would not be necessary this time around. After all this is Halloween (2018), the most talked about and anticipated film of 2018, and this publication is through the Cult Classic Horror Show – a place where true horror fans reside. In other words, you already know the history of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode as well as the premise of the new film and by now most of you have probably seen it once or multiple times. Halloween (2018) has been a hot topic amongst horror groups and enthusiasts (and elitists—wink wink) since September 15th, 2017 when actress Jamie Lee Curtis took to Twitter and announced that she would be reprising her role as Laurie Strode in the upcoming sequel to Halloween (1978). Even after its release on October 19th, 2018, Halloween (2018) remained to be the most talked about horror film of the year. Fans and haters alike took to social media to discuss their likes and dislikes about the film and now, months later, the conversations continue to remain plentiful. The consensus? It met or exceeded the expectations of diehard fans but fell flat for those who were not attached to the franchise. Full disclosure, I am a diehard fan of the franchise and while I feel fully satisfied with its latest installment I can certainly understand why it may not be as special for some. But, rather than focus too heavily on the film’s reception, let’s explore its relevancy and importance to our beloved genre.
Fan or not, I am the first to admit that the franchise has had its fair share of hiccups. Since its conception we’ve watched the series travel in a number of different directions and through a multitude of questionable decisions. But regardless of if he’s joining a cult, attending prep school, or starring in a reality television program, fans continue to flock to the theatres to see Michael Myers kill again. The lowest grossing film of the franchise still generated an $8 million dollar profit. Why? Because despite it all, the character of Michael Myers is a horror icon and regardless of the story behind the film, most fans are just happy to see the beloved madman on the screen again. In just under two weeks, Halloween (2018) earned the biggest opening of the franchise’s history and is currently the second highest grossing film within the series, being bested only by the original Halloween (1978) once adjusted for ticket inflation.
So what about this film makes it so special? At a glance, it’s easy to claim the film’s nostalgia factor as being its main attraction. With the reunion of the franchise’s creator and score composer (Carpenter), its lead actress and character (Curtis) and even the original Michael Myers (Castle), I can certainly understand and appreciate that point-of-view. Still, perhaps the film’s success is a result of a little more than just nostalgia. After all, the nostalgia angle has been played numerous times, within the past few years especially, yet few others have experienced the same amount of success. I think the appeal of Halloween (2018) goes much deeper than its nostalgia. This film was made for fans by fans and it is clear that the project was approached with respect and appreciation for the Halloween legacy. Although it discounts the sequels from its storyline, Halloween (2018) tips its hat to each one of them throughout the course of the film, including Rob Zombies 2007 remake and its sequel. While not without its flaws, Halloween (2018) felt more like a ‘Halloween’ film and less like another rushed sequel surrounding the character of Michael Myers. Additionally, Curtis’ committed performance and the musical score by John and Cody Carpenter attributed greatly to the overall strength of the film. Based on star power alone, Curtis and Carpenter could have easily phoned it in and collected some easy money but it’s clear they took the project seriously and gave it their best effort…once the check cleared of course (#cchelite).
Another important aspect of the film is its underlying psychological component which touches on several current societal issues. Through the lens of Laurie Strode, we explore the long-lasting consequences of violence and trauma on its victims as well as the effect it has on their families. **MINOR SPOILER** Towards the end of the film, we watch as three generations of strong female characters unite to confront and overcome their oppressor, a message that could not be more relevant to our current time.
Regardless of whether or not you’re a fan, it’s important to note that Halloween (2018) is an important film to the horror genre. Like its 1978 predecessor, Halloween (2018) has shown Hollywood that horror is in demand and as a result, many films that fans have longed for are now receiving the green light. The “handle with care” approach to this film will hopefully serve as a blueprint for how to approach upcoming remakes, reboots, or contributions to cult classic franchises and remind filmmakers and industry leaders to listen to the fans a little more often. A similar message was sent in 2003 when the fan outcry for a film featuring Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees was finally heard. Freddy Vs. Jason made a ‘killing’ at the box office and the film became the highest-grossing film of the Nightmare on Elm Street series and the second highest of the Friday the 13th series, once adjusted for ticket inflation. Hopefully this time, with Halloween (2018), that message will become a best practice.
This is a film made for fans of the Halloween franchise, particularly the 1978 film. That’s not to say that others won’t have fun with this film but the magic may be lost on those unfamiliar with the story and history of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode. If you’ve never seen the original film (1978), or it’s been a while, but you’re interested in seeing this one, I encourage you watch both films in order, back-to-back. Doing so will likely provide you with a greater perspective, appreciation, and overall better experience.
Additional Trivia (minor spoilers)
- Lucy Hale and Emma Roberts were both considered for the role of Allyson but the studio decided to go back to the roots of the first film and cast an unknown actress.
- As with the 1978 film, the character of Michael Myers is listed in the credits as “The Shape.”
- J. Soles has a cameo playing Allyson’s teacher.
- In this film, the events from part one are referred to as “the babysitter murders.” This is what John Carpenter originally wanted as the title for Halloween (1978).
- John Carpenter claims this is the last Halloween film, although there are contractual obligations for a sequel and the screenwriters are already considering one.
- This film was the biggest horror movie opening with a female lead, biggest movie opening with a female lead over 55, and the biggest opening for any of the Halloween franchise films. Additionally, it was the second biggest horror movie opening ever and the second biggest October opening ever.
- The gas station is almost and exact replica of the one in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988), down to the ice box outside.
- Actress Danielle Harris attempted to have her role of “Jamie” incorporated into the new film but the producers were not interested.
- The original cut of the film was two hours and fifteen minutes long but was cut down for pacing. This explains why there are so many additional scenes shown in the trailers.
- Michael is mistaken for Mr. Elrod. In Halloween part 2 his actions were also mistaken for that of a Mr. Elrod.
- This was the first film that John Carpenter has scored since 2001’s Ghosts of Mars.
- This is director David Gordon Green’s first horror film.