Halloween (2018) Review – The Night He Came Home For the Third Time

This was the one film of 2018 that I actually wanted to see. I was quite excited about it even though it is the third movie in the franchise to be called ‘Halloween’.

Just so you know, it’s not the ‘Halloween’ from 1978 written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill, directed by John Carpenter and starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasance and was a defining moment in horror that re-ignited the ‘slasher’ genre and paved the way for an entire decade of franchises all of which died at around the mid-nineties. It’s also not the ‘Halloween’ from 2007 that was written and directed by Rob Zombie and starred ‘Whatsername’ from films and it was appallingly bad, as was it’s sequel and both of them are the ‘red headed step-children’ of the franchise.

Nope, this is the ‘Halloween’ from 2018 presumably made to mark the 40 year anniversary of the original and we probably won’t see another one. What was that? It’s made by ‘Blumhouse’. Well in that case, we will see many more until the franchise is done to death for the third time in 40 years. They should have called it ‘Halloween 11: The Return of Michael Myers’ to really fuck with everyone’s timelines.

Or, more appropriately, they should have called it ‘Halloween: The Return of John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis’ because that’s basically why anyone went to go and see it. That’s not a judgement. I really don’t think they could have done it another way. If someone had wanted to pull a ‘Rob Zombie’ and do another one ‘their way’, no one would have given two tenths of a shit, but not me because I would have eviscerated it for giggles just like I did with the remakes. Instead, after seeing the film, my original position of rabid curiosity was replaced with a feeling of not being offended but also it’s not going to ‘revive’ the slasher genre like it did in 1978. Don’t get me wrong, I knew it wasn’t going to set the world on fire but I wanted to see what they’d do with it and how it would be received. More on that at the end but for now, lets have a look at the plot.

40 years after his initial rampage, Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney) has been safely tucked up in ‘Smithsgrove Sanatorium’ where he’s stayed silent for all that time. With the 40th anniversary approaching, a few podcasters, Dana (Rhian Rees) and Aaron (Jefferson Hall) are welcomed into the madhouse to try and get Michael to talk to them. Aaron even brings along Michael’s famous mask in order to provoke a reaction. When that doesn’t work, they find Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and interview her about ‘the night he came home’. You can hazard a wild guess as to how the rest of the film goes.

One aspect that was revealed in the early days was that the makers were going to ignore the previous nine films and focus on the events of the first movie even going so far as to retcon the ending of the first movie. So you know that bit when Dr Loomis shoots Michael off the balcony? That never happened. Instead, no one really knows what happened. It’s not really explained in the movie. All we know is that Michael was arrested by Sheriff’s Deputy, Frank Hawkins (Will Patton) and incarcerated. That’s it.

Laurie Strode’s storyline did get fleshed out a bit. In the 40 years since Halloween 1978, Laurie has been married twice and divorced twice. She has a fully grown daughter, Karen (Judy Greer) who lives with her husband, Ray (Toby Huss) and their teenage daughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak). Karen’s relationship with her mother can best be described as ‘abject hatred’ whilst Laurie and Allyson have a much better relationship. Karen hates her mother because her entire childhood was spent ‘preparing’ for Michael’s return. Laurie taught her daughter how to shoot guns and build a safe house until Karen was taken into care when she was 12 years old.

Here’s my problem with this storyline. I can accept that when someone suffers from a traumatic event that there may be some kind of fear and anxiety, bordering on paranoia that something along the same lines may happen again (it’s called ‘Post Traumatic Stress Disorder’) but if nothing has happened in 40 YEARS then maybe she might have gotten over it by now. I don’t know if you know this but 40 years is a long time and maybe something like having your child being taken into care may spark some kind of epiphany and you might say to yourself ‘What I’m doing is crazy, the guy’s locked up and never coming back’.

Also bear in mind that ‘Halloween II’ never happened. Laurie is presuming that Michael will come back after suffering through his murderous tirade only once. If ‘Halloween II’ had happened then I could understand her attitude. If he came after her twice then it’s understandable that she might think that one day he would come for her again. The problem with that is that if you bring back the ‘continuous pursuit of Laurie’ aspect from ‘Halloween II’ then you have to bring back everything else from ‘Halloween II’ which of course includes the ‘supernatural’ stuff like the ‘being invulnerable’ and the ‘super strength’ and of the some might ‘controversial’ storyline of Laurie being Michael’s sister. That whole thing has been removed. Even though ‘Halloween II’ has been retconned for this venture, I’m not sure the writers have remembered that.

Laurie’s been collecting weapons and arming herself as if she is facing the ‘immortal’ Michael Myers from the original cannon. As far as we know, he’s just a ‘normal’ guy and when I say ‘normal’, I do of course mean a ‘mortal, 61 year old’ guy. There was very little in the original film to suggest that he was ‘super-human’ other than the last bit on the balcony but that has been altered for this film. All of the injuries that Michael sustained in the original were perfectly survivable. The knitting needle in the neck, the knife in the chest. TV and films have made far worse injuries survivable. At best, Michael is just unable to register pain which is a trait carried over into this film.

On a different note, am I the only one who would have liked to see Josh Hartnett return as Laurie’s son? That would have been a nice little wink to ‘H20’. I suppose that would have made the audience think that H20 happened even though H20 did it’s best to retcon the ones before. Apparently Danielle Harris did want to return but she was turned down in favour of a different character altogether. I suppose it makes sense that she would want to come back. I wouldn’t want my last credit related to this franchise to be the remakes. At least Nick Castle got to wear the mask again.

I don’t want to spoil too much because this film is still out at the cinema and so I won’t talk too much about the ending but what I will say is that what with it being close to Christmas at time of writing, I think an apt description of the ending would come down to ‘Halloween meets Home Alone’ and I’ll leave it there.

Don’t worry my fellow ‘Halloween’ fans. What with this being a ‘Blumhouse’ production and of course a ‘Halloween’ film, it ends in a way that leaves it open for another one which isn’t really a spoiler because I don’t think anyone thought it would END. There not going to kill off this franchise, not with these returns. Speaking of which.

With a surprisingly low budget of just $10 Million, ‘Halloween (2018)’ has at time of writing brought in an astounding $253.1 Million which is remarkable although it doesn’t say a lot. The re-introduction of Jamie Lee Curtis in front of the camera and John Carpenter as an executive producer was clearly more than enough to guarantee a substantial audience. What really matters is the critical response and when I looked into it, I was pleasantly surprised.

I’m going to lie, I thought this film was going to be panned with a frying pan made of frozen dog-shit. The reasoning is simple. We all know and have no problem with admitting that the bombardment of remakes of classic slasher franchises weren’t too well received because the slasher franchise died in the mid-nineties. The 80’s were really decade to go for that kind of horror but now in 2018, the market has changed, films have changed, attitudes have changed but most importantly, the audience has changed. Therefore, I thought this film would come, get a load of shit rubbed in it’s face and then go again, never to be heard from again until someone reboots it in 4 or 5 years. Actually this instalment has received mixed to positive reviews which is wonderful to see but it’s a bit perplexing.

I, personally, didn’t find this film scary BUT I still enjoyed it. I found that I could stay one step ahead of the plot and see the ‘scares’ coming and do you know why? We’ve been here eleven times. That’s why. This film stays true to the rest of the Halloween franchise without doing enough to make it stand out. Somehow, this film is predictable without being boring. I had more fun noticing the little nods to the original than following the plot. Don’t get me wrong, I totally think that this ‘Halloween’ is well worth your time and money and stands tall and proud over the remakes and even some of the movies from the original canon. I’m going to buy it when it comes out and watch it again to see if I can spot any more.

John Carpenter has been quoted as saying that he got involved with this film because he was tired of criticising the sequels and decided to come back and make the franchise scary again. I’m not sure about that but he certainly made this film entertaining and his presence can definitely be felt. In fact, I’d like to outstretch the arm and offer my sincere and hearty congratulations to Mr Carpenter; Ms Curtis, Mr Jason Blum, Mr David Gordon Green (co-writer and director), Mr Danny McBride (co-writer) and to Mr Malek Akkad for carrying on his father’s legacy and bringing back a bit of the magic that made Halloween special.

It’s obviously not the end. The typical method is to make a sequel if the first one does alright and this film was always going to do alright. If I read correctly then a sequel is already underway. The real test will be if anyone comes back for the sequel or if I’ll be sat by myself in the cinema.

Til’ next time.

Has this review left you craving something scary? Why not read my book. It’s really good and written by me.

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