The original Halloween is often regarded as one of the best horror movies of all time and it is definitely one of the most important. The mysterious and threatening Micheal Myers captivated audiences and inspired countless copycats and sequels that, overtime, became the slasher genre. After 40 years and a myriad of unsuccessful followups and reboots, Halloween is back! Up until a few days ago, the only experience I had with Micheal Myers was that great scene in Baby Driver and the countless pieces of merchandise that the series has spawned. In order to prepare for the new movie, I decided to change that and watch the original.
At first, I thought I had bought the wrong movie because of how awful I thought the first thirty minutes were. How could something as beloved as this be this clunky and awkward? It starts with a long first person shot that shows young Micheal Myers spot his sister necking some dude while his parents are gone. This makes something inside him snap and he decides to stab his sister to death after the boyfriend left the bedroom in an abnormally short amount of time. (How did they have sex in the 1 minute and 6 seconds, yes I timed it, that they were in the bedroom? Did they have sex? He might just be getting something, but he says that he’ll call her later, which implies that he will not return later that night, which means they must have had sex, but according to Medical Daily, sex lasts anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes on average, so unless this dude is far below average, they probably didn’t! But that conclusion doesn’t fit the theme of teenage sex and it’s negative repercussions, she was topless and seemed pretty pleased after he left, so they must have! I am so confused! Why am I focusing on this one tiny detail?) The confusing storytelling, clunky dialogue, unnecessary nudity, and atrocious acting are topped off with one of the worst delivered lines I’ve ever heard (“Micheal?”) and an awkward long shot of his parents staring into young Micheal’s soul. The ideas are great: long shot from the killer’s perspective before revealing he is a 6 year old child, Micheal killing his sister because of her sexual nature contrasting his own innocence, seeing a sane child snap, it’s all great stuff, but they way it’s executed just doesn’t do it for me. After listening to other people’s thoughts on the movie, I’ve learned to like the beginning more, but it still is far lesser than the rest of the movie.
The insane asylum escape scene is also a pain to watch. The acting is fine, but the way they show his escape lacks logic and tension and feels rushed. We don’t even get to see him in the asylum beforehand! We see Doctor Lumis and his… somebody… (it’s not clear) drive up to the asylum, and when they get there, the inmates are just kinda chillin in the yard. Lumis checks it out, and Somebody decides that rolling down the car window is a good idea. Mikey takes the opportunity, steals the car, and floors it to his hometown to do some killin’!
The movie improves greatly from there. When I say that, I don’t mean the movie goes from bad to fine. It goes from mediocre to amazing. The teenage and child actors do a pretty good job, but the standout is Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie. She is spectacular in this movie! She gives a nuanced and complicated portrayal of a high schooler that is figuring out school and romance. She isn’t in it as much as I expected, but when she shows up, she really shines. The tension starts building here and it never stops. Meyers’ ominous breathing and John Carpenter’s iconic soundtrack really give a feeling that can’t be described. The teenagers are all basic caricatures of teenagers at first, but they do become very likable near the end.
The kills are a joy to watch. Micheal’s attacks are creative and (surprisingly) low on blood. I think the lack of too many gruesome deaths are what make this movie as accessible and rewatchable as it is. Watching Micheal maneuver the suburbs and find ways into people’s homes is mesmerizing and deeply chilling.
All the tension builds up to the final confrontation with Mike Wazowski, and it doesn’t disappoint. It feels very real and desperate. Jamie Lee Curtis’ performance really sells the spontaneous nature of the fight and how inhuman Myers is. This movie has one of the best endings ever: it has a cliffhanger ending that still feels satisfying, it really feels like Laurie’s personal arc has been completed, and Micheal is at large and as intimidating as ever.
Don’t take my long and rambling critiques of the first act of this movie as my opinion of the whole film. I love this movie. If anything, the first act adds to the charm of it! The performances are great, there are some stunning sequences, and John Carpenter has created a horror icon that has lived on for 40 years and will surely live more than 40 more.