Halloween – 2018

Director David Gordon Green
Screenplay Jeff Fradley, Danny McBride, David Gordon Green
Starring  Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner, Nick Castle, Tony Moran, Toby Huss

The fact that they’ve blown up, continued, recreated, reimagined, then blown up this franchise again is telling of a few things. First of all, Akkad family has made the most of their modest original investment. While their intention was to keep going with Michael Myers, they miscalculated the estimation of John Carpenter’s interest in the series when he told them that was the only way he was going to stay onboard was to move on from him.

Once Carpenter left, the series tried to regain its footing with a series of estimations on how to keep the wounded horse of their main antagonist interesting. In general, as the deaths became more gory, The Shape became less interesting.

To celebrate the 20th, Jamie Lee came back on her own terms and made the confusing H2O. It’s success forced the horrid followup which only served to give us an awesome Busta Rhymes laying the smack down on Myers. Then silence for 5 years.

Rob Zombie’s take rounding out the third decade is actually interesting, and crowds thought so too. And while part II has been savaged critically, it isn’t as horrible because at least Zombie stayed with his vision.

Now, at 40, first John Carpenter, then Nick Castle and finally Jamie Lee is back. Gordon Green and Danny McBride were allowed to wipe every sequel off the map and start fresh. Only they didn’t really do this. What they did feels like a bunch of tributes to the films they left behind, as if that would atone for their dismissal. Due to this, the series has lost every bit of mystery for one of the greatest films this viewer has witnessed. The result is an unmoored mess of violence and it feels pathetic as the worst of the slasher films that its glorious original spawned.

The film starts with the obligatory insane asylum scene. It’s as picturesque as it is pointless. Its main purpose is to expose Myers to the mask that he sees but never turns to see. Instead of reality tv of resurrection, this time its a couple of podcasters that serve to unleash the beast for purposes of getting him to say something. It’s notable that Nick Castle plays The Shape for a scene, but inexplicably they choose to have Tony Moran play him without his mask. Makes not much difference when we don’t see him full on, but oh well.

Jamie Lee is Laurie Strode once more, and just like in H20, no one really believes her when she acts like someone who is mired in both PTSD and a quest for revenge. She sets up her house in many stupid ways, but I will discuss just one here. If you decide to put a bar on the door, it’s best that you don’t have two arm-sized windows right above it.

Laurie knows there’s supposed to be a prison transfer on October 30 (like we’ve seen a few times now). She holds a stake out for it, screams when she sees them start out. Then she…heads for dinner?

Her daughter Karen (Greer) is the leader of the “Laurie is cray cray” brigade. She even says that she believes the world is filled with happiness and love. If only she knew how much she is wrong…but don’t worry, she’ll get a chance.

Laurie’s granddaughter, Allyson (Matichak) is a little warmer to Grandma. Grandma even encourages Allyson to take a trip to Mexico with some cash she gives her. Hasn’t Laurie got any concerns sending her south where the cartels run the government?

So even though Allyson loves Grandma, it doesn’t stop her from going to the big social event and letting her louse of a boyfriend compromise her communication and her transportation home. So she’s got that going for her.

Back to Michael, we see him walk and kill his way through scenes evoking imagery from many of the previous sequels. Some of these work. Most of them do not. The pacing is non-existent once he gets his mask back. He just moves through town, killing some people, leaving others. Children are not safe…unless he walks right past them.

The lack of consistency and complete random feeling of locations, victims and time brings one to the conclusion that this film is not scripted as a story. Instead, like Star Trek Into Darkness,  it is just an aping of events done in different, if not always better films. It’s like \ the writers just said, let’s try this from part II, that from part III and these things from part 4, etc., etc., etc.

Even worse, they throw in some pretty pathetic references to the original which are supposed to give us the rah-rah feeling of turning the tables. And though I understand that Jamie Lee Curtis hasn’t held guns very often in her life, but someone should have explained that you don’t look like Linda Hamilton from Terminator 2 if you lead with the long barrel of a gun when going from room to room. It makes you look like you want Michael Myers to grab the gun from you and run you through with it.

When it comes to the grudge match, that’s kind of a dud, too. We see Myers routinely ripping people apart, throughout the film. This is bad for a variety of reasons. The only film considered to be more than halfway decent has enough murders to count on one hand. Also, it’s boring when you dispatch so many that there’s hardly any time for build up. I stopped counting at 20 and just waited for the film to be over.

No fewer than three times, Myers has Laurie Strode in his massive hands. Does he crush her, or even make her a little sore? No. She is battered about and scratched a little, but not enough to leave more than abrasions.

There are a handful of genuine surprises in this film. I won’t ruin them here, because heaven knows it will be hard enough to find much to like about this garbage heap.

As for Curtis, I know she wanted this role to define something in the #metoo era. It doesn’t do much for that, though. I liked her in her first comeback even if the film wasn’t great. This time around, I don’t have much more than frustration at how she approaches any of her scenes.

I don’t think Curtis the artist really gives anyone the impression she really has a plan in this story. Even if we see the props the production team sets up the house with, how they get to the point where she can use them is more an accident than anything. She’s trapped in this role and she will never be free, even if we have her kick Myers ass a few more times.

Gordon Green captures the aesthetic of the first film only occasionally. By mixing between still shots of Myers in the background and severely gory scenes of carnage, it’s hard to think he made much more than a Michael Myers’ greatest hits movie. There is a hint of motivation for The Shape, but only that. For the most part, he shows up where the script tells him he’s supposed to show. With one exception, he kills everyone he’s supposed to kill.

Michael Myers has haunted me for years in my sleep. Even before I knew who Freddy Kruger was. One film has sustained me this long, even though they clearly have never figured out how to expand on the effect.

(*1/2 out of *****)



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