Halloween 2018 Review – Welcome Back to Haddonfield
In this beautiful season of pumpkin carving, dark nights and spooky costumes all horror fanatics rejoice. This is our season, this is the time when we are rewarded for our consistent love for this genre. We are rewarded with Halloween 2018! This year we have been gifted not only the holiday but the film as well, and don’t we just feel fan-fucking-tastic about that!
Now I have to admit, I’m always going to be biased on this one. I love the original Halloween and I love John Carpenter, so his involvement in this sequel already had me signing on the dotted line. His influence is beautifully clear throughout and lends so much to the overall aesthetic of the film, which I can’t wait to dive in to. But, before we begin this journey in to my clearly positive review of Halloween there’s just one more thing I need to address…
We need to talk about Laurie Strode!
I love Laurie, she is one of the top on my list of Final Girls and Scream Queens! To hear that Jamie Lee Curtis was getting the band back together with John Carpenter and Nick Castle was a dream come true. This woman, and her onscreen persona Laurie, are strong, inspirational and all kinds of what we need right now! Laurie Strode began as one of the first Final Girls in horror. She was caring, savvy and tenacious in the original and has evolved in to a full on Bad-Ass in this sequel! The exploration of her character is something that is dealt with so stunningly in this film, developing her but still maintaining the feeling of that young babysitter who fought The Boogeyman. Big shout out for not only having a fierce female lead but for also representing women of age as powerful and steadfast. I ❤ Jamie Lee Curtis.
Now Laurie’s not our only kickass lady in this long awaited sequel. All the Strode women are absolutely brilliant. We have Karen, Laurie’s daughter, who was trained extensively as a child to wield weapons and take care of her own. She can hold her own and protect her family but she also has the strength to believe in the happiness and love life can hand you. Judy Greer plays this part immaculately, combining naïve hope and doomsday prepping bad-assery!
Karen’s daughter Allyson also proves that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the Final Girl tree. Allyson has a strong original Halloween Laurie vibe to her; she’s sweet, strong and an honour student, just like Grandmother. Throughout the film she proves that even without the training her mother received Allyson knows how to survive, she’s intelligent and can handle herself. Andi Matichak presents her perfectly, and I love her Clyde pant suit!
The portrayal of these women is one of the most progressive I’ve seen in horror. The film just doesn’t do weak women and simple stereotypes; it has more to offer than that.
Disclaimer and Explainer.
So now we reach the fun spoiler filled part! Which means if you haven’t seen this film already, what are you doing with your life?! Sorry, I mean, spoilers and a whole lot of horror fangirling ahead.
So, it was very tempting to just run through this entire film detail by detail and discuss every element possible. That resulted in about ten pages of synopsis based waffle on my part so I’ve decided to try and be diplomatic in my discussion instead. Fingers crossed for me.
Halloween begins forty years after the Haddonfield Massacre, it’s October 2018 and Michael is being transferred from Smith’s Grove Rehabilitation Hospital to a place described as ‘The Pit of Hell’. Of course, the transfer doesn’t work out as planned and Michael is back on the loose. We follow the Strode family as they deal with Michael’s return and the trauma it brings to the family.
Cold Open and Credits Fangirling.
We begin with true crime podcasters Aaron and Dana who are determined to reassess the psychology of The Shape responsible for the death of five people. They travel to Smith’s Grove Rehabilitation Hospital and meet Michael’s caring new doctor Dr. Ranbir Sartain. All three of these characters show such a level of sympathy towards Michael, they speak of him as misunderstood and humane, which we all know is just beautifully misguided. I was so worried from the trailer that these two ‘Making a Murderer’ wannabes were going to be a huge part of this film. Luckily, they don’t last for too long, just long enough to make sure we’re all very satisfied when they die.
As we’ve all seen in the trailer, Aaron attempts to garner an emotive reaction from Michael. His efforts culminate into beautifully sound designed chaos as inmates scream and howl, the score surges, and Michael simply stays silent and static. Alarms ring dogs break and we smash cut to the credits.
Maybe it was my excitement to see that original font, or the nostalgic feeling that rose within at the sound of the updated score, but there was something encapsulating about the opening credits of Halloween. A pumpkin slowly returns from its decayed state. Timelapsing into something shining, sinister and spectacular, maybe just a little bit like this franchise has.
The Script and All Its Glory.
A highlight of this film has to be it’s script, the dialogue works so well throughout and has such a balance between lines of fanservice and genuine humour and human discussion. There are some very funny moments within this script that highlight the influence of Danny McBride, someone you really don’t expect to have on the credits for a film like this. Now I’m not going to recite the full fucking script because I actually want you to both read and enjoy this post, so I’m just going to point out my highlights.
One of the best moments of scripting comes when we are introduced to Julian, the cutest muffinball this franchise has ever had the honour of hosting. Vicky, Allyson’s sweet friend, is babysitting him for the night, because we can’t have a babysitter killer without at least one of them in the mix. Julian is a smart little kid and instantly calls Vicky out on her secret code of Alakazam, he knows she’s smoking weed and he’s gonna tell his mom. Vicky counters by threatening to show off his browser history.
There little tête-à-tête sessions are brilliant, and their genuine affection for each other makes us care for these two which means we are upset when the inevitable happens to poor Vicky. Like I said, Julian is a smart kid and VIcky should have listened and sent Dave up first.
I’m gonna wrap up on the script but there are two lines that had me spitting my drink at the poor people sat in front of me. When we are first introduced to the younger Strode family we see Allyson’s mum Karen and her dad Ray. Ray is prepping rat traps with peanut butter and accidently sets one off which leads to the line “I got peanut butter on my dick.”. Simple. Effective. Has the word dick. All I could ever want.
My second spit take was a line from the pure twat-bag Dr Sartain. I would explain the context but I honestly have no idea why he even says this, I’m not sure he does either. Michael has started killing people are panicking and the Docs advice? “I’m a doctor. Lock your doors.”. The. Fuck?
The Motherfluffing kills!
Now, just between us horror fanatics, we know what we really came here for. To watch Michael fuck people up! So without further ado here are my top 5 kills:
Poor Vicky and Dave. It was meant to be such a special night for them. Dave even got the date tattooed on his arm, now there’s some poetic irony. As every child fears the boogeyman is hiding in the closet and it does not end well for our young lovers. Vicky ends up under a sheet and Dave is pinned to a wall. Michael has always had a thing against teenage romance.
- Talk to me Michael.
Turns out Dr Sartain is actually a massive fuck-duckling with a major hard on for Michael. He is not Loomis, he is the anti-loomis. He stabs Officer Hawkins with a fucking scalpel pen and then decides he needs to wear Michael’s face. Michael is not happy about this so deals with it the way Michael does. His death is explosive, one big foot stomp to the head and bye bye Dr Sartain.
Thank balls for this one! After following our two British Podcasters for the first half of the movie I was ready to do Michael’s job for him. The trailer had seriously worried me that these dickbags were going to be a major part of this film.I was beyond happy when Michael showed up at the garage that they’ve stopped off at for petrol and to ‘use the loo’ (seriously, I’m British and even I groaned at that shit!). The mechanic is bludgeoned and his overalls are stolen. The garage owner has his jaw ripped off! Dana gets choked out and Aaron’s head is repeatedly smashed in to a brick wall. Thank you Michael.
- Pumpkin head.
The two police officers that had been camped out to protect the Strode’s get themselves Myered. Officer one’s throat is slit and he’s holding the decapitated head of Officer two that has been hollowed out, carved like a pumpkin and is glowing from the torch thrust through the neck. Michael is having some fun with some of his kills, but that’s what 40 years of incarcerated contemplation will do to a man.
- One shot of blood.
Michael is home in Haddonfield and he’s ready to rampage, you know, in a slow i-don’t-run-for-no-fucker way. This scene is simply stunning, the cinematography is beautiful and this full scene is one long continuous take. Michael stalks through houses, steals a hammer and smashes a woman’s head in. He then upgrades to a kitchen knife. We watch a woman through her window as Michael’s silhouette looms down the side of her house. She begins closing her blinds to protect herself from the masked murderer. The one who is already stood behind her. Her head is slammed in to the couch and a knife thrust through her throat. Everything in this scene is sharp, on time and just cinematically sensational.
The Old vs. The New.
Obviously this is sequel and not a remake which means it has its own story but a lot of lovely little nods to the audience. There are a few meta moments that give the dedicated audience a thrilling moment to whisper to their cinema party ‘I get that reference’!
We’re treated to a nice little ‘wink wink’ moment as Dave mentions Michael being Laurie’s brother, something established in Halloween II. Allyson quickly wipes the slate clean and debunks that, in this film they are ‘Cat and Mouse’ ‘Predator and Prey’ but they are not ‘Brother and Sister’. Which I personally think is much better, they don’t need a blood connection, they just need a connection.
As the movie progresses we get a fair few homages to the original. The main ones that stuck with me were the blurring of the lines between Laurie and Michael. As Allyson glances out of her classroom window Laurie stands across the street in the exact spot that Michael stood forty years prior. At this point in the film Laurie is the foreboding presence, she is the mysterious figure, and this play on the original Halloween is perfectly done.
During the final battle Laurie is thrown from a balcony by Michael but when he looks over the edge…she’s disappeared. She was clearly paying attention during their first battle. As the fight progresses Laurie is still missing, until she materialises out of the dark behind The Monster with her cheesy but killer line ‘Happy Halloween Michael.’ How the tables do turn.
I made sure to watch the original Halloween right before going to see this one as I wanted to be sharp on the references. What it reminded me of was how, compared to some modern horror, tame Halloween could be viewed to be. Somehow, Stoner Dave seems to be quite a wise character overall. He ponders on the idea of whether what Michael did was actually ‘that bad’ in the grand scheme of things. This earns him a scathing look but what he’s commenting on, in my opinion, is the progression from 80’s to 10’s in both horror and general attitudes to violence. In the original there isn’t a mass body count, it isn’t drenched in blood and gore and it’s paced slowly and meticulously. For a generation that has been raised on Torture Porn and Modern Slashers it’s fair to say that maybe this isn’t ‘such a big deal’ to a new generation. We have grown accustomed, and possibly immune, to acts of violence in this way. The world is a changed place and we have witnessed new horrors.
Shaming and Blaming.
Throughout Halloween there is a theme of Laurie being told to simply ‘get over’ her trauma. Her daughter, the police and even her granddaughter tell her she needs to move on and live her life. Again, there is a commentary on a women who is scared, she has been attacked and she is still fearful, but it was so long ago that maybe “You should just get over it now honey.”
The worst offenders are our Podcasters. They see themselves as true crime vigilantes, fighting for the justice of wrongly incarcerated or misunderstood criminals. Their attitude is so reflective of victim shaming in this part that it brings both cringes and ironic laughter when they speak to Laurie. They call Michael a human while labeling Laurie as a Basket Case, her words not mine. They bring up her divorces, her loss of custody of her twelve year old daughter and the fact she is not connected with her family. They treat Laurie in a less humane way than they do Michael! They don’t believe in The Boogeyman, but Laurie has survived him, and she knows better.
The podcasters aren’t the only ones, even her family tells her to move on from her experience. It happens as she speaks to Allyson at the school and also when she arrives at the family meal, suffering a panic attack after watching Michael’s transfer bus leave the hospital. When she breathes the word ‘I saw his shape’ and breaks down it is heartbreaking. It is perfectly set up to show the PTSD she is suffering and the toll that takes on her and her family. She is both broken and strong at the same time, she refuses to be a victim ever again. Who knew horror could be so deep?
I’ll finally wrap up my overt fangirling review now. I’m sure you’re butt has gone numb and you’re all scrolled out. So here are my final few thoughts.
This is a brilliant clean slate for the franchise. It’s the sequel the original deserves! There is such a strong female presence in the cast with no need for them to be sexualised of ultimately saved by a man. These three women are fleshed out, perfectly flawed and stronger together.
Beyond that the writing is amazing. A perfect balance of updating and staying true to the original. Myers is back and he’s better than ever!