Halloween (2018) Review – Back to Basics

Halloween, not to be confused with Halloween or Halloween, is a sequel to Halloween, but not to Halloween. Neither is it a sequel to Halloween 2 or to Halloween 2. Easy to understand, right?

Okay, but seriously, Halloween 2018 does away with all of the sequels before it and instead concerns itself with being a direct sequel to the original 1978 film. This means Michael and Laurie are not related in this universe, and Michael never got blown up with Loomis in a hospital. As far as this continuity is concerned, Michael was arrested in 1978 after Loomis shot him during that film’s climax. We get a little bit of indication as to how this went down, with a couple of police officers who were there saying they had to stop Loomis from publicly executing Michael but most of it is left up in the air. 40 years later, after the death of Doctor Loomis, Michael’s new doctor orchestrates his escape and sets him on a path to Haddonfield once again so that he can kill. This new doctor is obsessed with Michael and wants to see him do battle with Laurie Strode again, and that’s basically the plot of the film.

So it might come as a surprise that this new doctor is barely in the film at all, dies anticlimactically and serves as little more than a plot device to relocate Michael from the middle of Haddonfield and into Laurie’s house which is a very, very long way from town. It’s like they wrote both Michael and Laurie into the script but forgot the fact they’d eventually have to meet and, instead of revising the plot, just said that Michael’s doctor could arbitrarily fill in the blanks. It’s a shame the best conflict in the movie is built up to by such a contrivance because, in truth, I enjoyed the rest of it.

Admittedly this is just a slightly edgier version of Halloween H20 with a bit more blood and better supporting characters outside of Laurie herself. Most of the film focuses on Laurie’s family becoming distant from her because she’s still irrationally holding onto the fear she felt in the original film, all of which wound up with her raising her daughter so poorly that she grew up in child care. The whole thing is an arc about the various generations – Laurie, her daughter and granddaughter – putting their misunderstandings aside to eventually stop Michael. And for what it’s worth, it does so pretty well for a slasher flick you can mostly predict the outcome of.

Alas, I am going to repeat myself here… This is still just Halloween H20 but slightly worse. H20 felt much more grounded and plausible than this movie; Laurie felt real in that movie because, despite her paranoia, she was still a relatively normal person who was gradually taking steps to improve her life and treat her son better throughout the film. She had trauma from Michael, but was active in overcoming it prior to his introduction into the film. In this movie, Halloween 2018, Laurie is just a crazy person that everyone disregards until her insane ramblings come true and Michael returns, at which point everyone decides it’s a good idea to listen to her. Again, it’s not executed poorly and is the best part of the film from a narrative perspective; my gripe is that we’re seeing a dynamic that’s already been done before, only it’s being done worse instead of better. It’s almost as though there’s not a lot left you can do with the franchise, which is precisely what led to Rob Zombie’s unique but divisive entries. Huh, who’d-a-thunk?

What I do like more here is the depiction of Michael. For once he’s not just some brute force of nature, but an actual stalker again. There’s a really cool sequence where we kind of get a feel for how he is able to blend in so well and get to see two very satisfying, spontaneous kills happen in relatively open areas that remain entirely undiscovered. There are even a couple of tongue-in-cheek moments where we get to see Michael just toying with his victims before he goes in for the kill that I liked. On top of that, he looks really creepy in this film; he’s not some stilted, awkward dude like in the other sequels or a towering giant like in Zombie’s remakes – he’s just some regular dude who happens to be very effective at killing. If there’s one thing about the original movie this film is able to replicate, it’s the somewhat tongue-in-cheek Michael’s behaviour before and after he is done with his victims, that other sequels mostly did away with.

I also appreciate that, despite the hefty kill count, the movie doesn’t indulge in graphic gore as much as Zombie’s films did. There are one or two bloody shots – with only one character having a particularly gory death – while the rest is pretty laid back. Even so, you feel the weight of the kills and of Michael’s efficiency, so nothing is lost with the slight restraint on excessive violence here.

Slight restraint… Yeah, Michael gets two of his fingers blown off by a shotgun during his final conflict with Laurie. The whole final sequence is well done. We, as well as Michael, are tricked into believing Laurie’s fortress home is supposed to keep Michael out, but at the end it is revealed that it’s an elaborate scheme to draw him in and trap him inside. Once trapped in the basement, the house is set up in flames and Michael is left to burn. It’s all very well done, although a bit comical to see the two main characters – both 60 years old – doing these elaborate fight scenes against each other while the younger members of the cast sit on the bench.

I don’t normally bring this stuff up because I know absolutely nothing about cinematography, but I also thought this movie was shot quite well. I could always tell what was going on, despite most of it taking place at night and the action in dark areas, and can remember a few memorable shots. There’s a cool drawn-out shot as Michael is bumped into by some kids, before walking over to a garage to arm himself with a hammer. There’s the final shot of him in the fire at the end of the movie and when one kid gets his jaw impaled on a gate. There’s just frames of this movie I found myself appreciating.

So although it is incredibly derivative of H20 and only does a small handful of the things that film did better, I would still recommend this movie. But I must say, despite the gripes I do have with Rob Zombie’s movies, I struggle to rank this higher than them because I still admire him for at least trying to do something fresh with the material. At the end of the day this film just wanted to recreate the old movies for a new audience and, while it did that well, I’d still have proffered something new. That said, I think it was a smart move to remove Michael and Laurie’s relation, and I think Michael’s creepy and calculating depiction led to a satisfying subversion at the end of the film regarding how he was defeated. It almost pains me to think that this film has a sequel, because that last shot of Michael in the fire was just so good and climactic to me that if they never made another one I’d be satisfied. Alas… Michael Myers makes money.

At the end of every Halloween review I rank the movies I have seen so far from best to worst. Find the updated list below:

  1. Halloween (1978)
  2. Halloween H20 (1998)
  3. Halloween (2007)
  4. Halloween (2018)
  5. Halloween 2 (1981)
  6. Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1983)
  7. Halloween 2 (2009)
  8. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
  9. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
  10. Halloween Resurrection (2002)
  11. Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

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