Review: Halloween (2018)

The 2018 version of Halloween is a satisfyingly good horror movie that succeeds not because it has created something new, but rather because it has resuscitated the DNA of any good slasher flick.

With a simple kitchen knife, a blue jumpsuit and a hauntingly emotionless mask, the image of Michael Myers has become an icon of horror cinema since his first theatrical appearance in 1978.  But though this iconic antagonist remains a classic figure, his murderous escapades over the years (in a string of increasingly ridiculous sequels and remakes) have been less than memorable.

It is with great satisfaction then that Michael Myers returns in Halloween (2018), a film that disregards much of the convoluted aspects of the movie series in favor of returning to the basics. As a direct sequel to the original masterpiece of the same name, Halloween may not add anything new to the slasher genre but builds on classic ingredients to create fear; a formula ignored by many of the subsequent films. 

Halloween (2018) Trailer

The convoluted sequels featured so many twists, turns and differing backstories into Michael’s motives, that the films and the character became more outlandish than actually scary.  By scrapping all this and relying solely on the mythology of the first movie, director David Gordon Green and his screenwriters have created a generational story of horror, trauma and the enduring struggle against evil.

That Halloween (2018) is not particularly inventive seems to be beside the point, for after so many years of disappointing sequels, this movie’s simplicity is really all it needs to succeed. What made John Carpenter’s 1978 film special was indeed this reliance on old-fashioned scares, shadows and the unknown. David Gordon Green’s film thus falls back onto this formula, giving audiences a narrative that is easy to follow, with genuine moments of terror and of course…fun.

Cleverly set 40 years after the events of the original film, Halloween (2018) follows the traumatized Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, returning to the role which kick-started her career) who has lived with the horror of Michael’s rampage for four decades; with an estranged daughter and granddaughter, Laurie has spent her years training and preparing herself for Michael’s inevitable return. And return he does… 40 years after his Halloween night massacre the masked menace arrives in Haddonfield, Illinois intent on continuing the bloodshed. This time, however, Laurie is prepared for a collision literally 40 years in the making.

Michael Myers returns in this reboot of the Halloween Franchise

Serving as a tribute to the lasting influence of the original while also refreshing the material for new audiences. Halloween (2018) never reinvents the wheel but still delivers a satisfying horror escape

What seems to be the overarching message of the film is that acts of evil may indeed have long-term consequences and that while the adage of “time heals all wounds” is certainly true to an extent, sometimes the trauma only grows with time. Laurie clearly exhibits post-traumatic stress disorder which has affected her relationships with others and begins to affect her loved ones as well. Thus the events of the first Halloween are shown to be more than just a one-off tragedy, but one with deep repercussions. Michael’s return is an embodiment of the obstinance of evil, while all those who fight him show that goodness is just as stubborn. Together these two moral views reveal themselves to be eternal, and always captivating.

Featuring a story that is relatively straightforward, the movie deliberately paces itself, offering a handful of good jump scares (a building block of sorts for this genre), gruesome scenes and creative visuals. Although some of Michael’s victims meet their fate in campy violence (reminiscent of some of the campier aspects of the original), the 2018 reboot  knows it is having fun with its audience; yet it still manages to keep a sustained level of terror throughout which allows it to not descend into goofiness like so many of the other sequels.

Jamie Lee Curtis is an intriguing delight as the paranoid Laurie, who is both hardened yet still vulnerable; as she attempts to convince others that her years of seclusion and training were worth it, viewers are meant to question just how far she will go to confront Michael. Meanwhile, Michael (Nick Castle, who also returns from the 1978 film) continues to be a mysterious enigma of malice, killing without pattern or seemingly any reason. What it creates is a blend of nostalgia and freshness, a homage to its roots while simultaneously modernizing the material for a new generation. 

Halloween (2018) Still 1
Purchase / stream the original film on Amazon

By discounting the muddled mythos of the franchise that followed the original, Halloween (2018) has started anew but has built on the foundations of John Carpenter’s creation. Though today the scares may not be as genuine as they were forty years ago, what this film has proven is that a slasher horror film can still be effective. With this movie, you know that when that famous main music plays and Michael Myers appears, a murderously good time lies ahead.

SUMMARY

+ Builds on basic ingredients of a slasher movie + Complex emotional themes + Good scares - Not particularly new or inventive
Michael Vecchio
Michael Vecchiohttp://beforethecyborgs.com
Michael Vecchio is a contributing writer for Before The Cyborgs. A graduate of the University of Alberta, he is a keen follower of events in the world of film, as well as politics and history. You can also hear him podcast about film and politics

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