Seeing as I first watched and reviewed the original 1978 “Halloween” for last year’s #MonthOfSpooks, it makes sense that I’d pick up this one for this year’s, especially as I still haven’t got around to seeing any of the other “Halloween” movies so this franchise timeline – the fifth so far – is the only one I’m aware of. Forget every sequel and reboot since the 1978 one? Okay, done.
Forty years have passed since the night he came home and while Michael Myers has spent those decades incarcerated in a mental institution, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has occupied herself by becoming a doomsday prepper – only she’s been prepping for a doomsday she knows is coming. When Michael escapes a routine prison transfer, Laurie finds herself fighting not only for her life, but that of her daughter and granddaughter too.
“Halloween” ’18 wobbles a bit at the start as the film sets out to establish its new take on continuity. Much of this is established by featuring a pair of super-annoying ‘investigative journalists’ who specialise in exposition and also maybe a podcast. They’re allowed to ‘interview’ Michael Myers in an absurdly provocative manner by his current psychiatrist Doctor Ranbir Sartain (Haluk Bilginer) – who I ended up thinking of as Faux-mar Sharif so uncanny was the likeness) – that you’re immediately alerted to some of the twists to come.
And although it’s undeniably fun, it’s the predictability of most of the film that robs it of its power. Although it promises a clean break with the sequels and requels of the franchise’s past – and casts some pithy shade at them too – there’s a reliance on the mystique and super-human endurance of Michael Myers they established that means the film rejects and embraces nostalgia in equal measure.
There’s a nice thematic nod to neo-paganism in framing the story of this murderous, unstoppable force of death and destruction being opposed by the maiden, the mother and the crone (apologies to Ms Curtis) although it focusses more on the youngest and eldest for the most part. There’s also a lot of speculation that, psychologically, Strode and Myers need each other to define their sense of selves, used as the driving motivation for Michael to head back to Haddonfield but you know who really needs Michael and Laurie to confront each other? The writers of this movie, which is why they’re forced in the second act to make Laurie do some really stupid things to enable the confrontation to happen.
But thank Carpenter they do, because after the wobbly and predictable beginning, and a so-so middle section with some entertaining kills but also some bone-headed character decisions, the film actually delivers a genuinely exciting finale seasoned with some delicious subversions of the original movie’s iconic tropes.
This year’s “Halloween” is far from the genre-defining masterpiece of the original but it’s still a super-fun, if largely predictable, slasher film bolstered by terrific performances from its leads.