The Halloween franchise has had a hard time returning to the spotlight. The countless rushed sequels had their fans, but the critics’ consensus was that they sucked big time. (The highest Rotten Tomatoes rating that the sequels and reboots have gotten is H20’s 52%. Ouch. The lowest is a measly 6% with Halloween 6. Double ouch.) It has been 40 years since the original has graced the silver screen and 9 years since Micheal Myers’ last killing spree in the sequel to Rob Zombie’s reboot. Horror giant Blumhouse (distributor of many great low-budget horror films including Insidious, Paranormal Activity, Split, and the Oscar winning Get Out) has decided that, on the originals 40th anniversary, it is prime time to return to the roots of the series. Jason Blum (founder of Blumhouse) has gotten the original cast back together, as well as director David Gordon Green, for a direct sequel to 1978’s Halloween. Every movie but the original doesn’t exist. They do this to maintain the mystery and suspense of the original. There are some twists in the sequels that make Micheal Myers less mysterious than when we know next to nothing about him. I watched (and reviewed) the original in preparation before I saw Halloween 2018, and I highly recommend that you do the same.
A constant theme in Halloween 2018 is the difference between generations. The most obvious use of this is the differences between Laurie, her daughter, and her grand-daughter and how Laurie’s trauma has affected her entire family. The events of the first film has made Laurie paranoid and overly intense. She has an isolated home in the woods that has locks that rival Fort Knox, traps that would make Kevin McCallister jealous, and a secret cellar just in case Micheal makes it inside the house. She forces her daughter to learn how to shoot at a young age and goes to extreme measures to make sure she can protect herself. Measures so extreme that her daughter is taken away from her. This makes Laurie’s own daughter despise her and her grand-daughter have only a distant relationship with her.
The other uses of the generational gap are less obvious but make the movie a joy to watch opposite the original. Gone are the landlines, relaxed police, and unabashedly horny teens. Replacing them are iPhones, strict officers, and more subdued horny teens. (The addition of true-crime podcasters is also a great touch.) This makes this version of Halloween feel different and grounded… until the jokes come. I don’t hate them as much as most, but they do release all tension that the film has done such a good job of building up. I didn’t mind them while I was watching it, but I think that the movie would benefit from less jokes.
I think that Halloween 2018 is a better made movie than 78 overall, but the original is more re-watchable. Why? It’s because of my main problem with the movie: the gore. I don’t mind gore, but this movie should not have had so much of it. What makes the original something that people can watch every year is its accessibility. The original features a surprisingly low amount of blood for a slasher, and instead uses the viewers imagination to scare them. Sometimes what you don’t see is a lot more scary than what you do see. The new movie features some gnarly deaths that would be a joy to watch in any other slasher, but in this movie it just adds to the uneven tone. The original had a sense of humor and some brutal deaths, but what makes it special is the amazing balance it strikes that makes it endlessly watchable. 2018 doesn’t strike that balance. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth when it jumps from an overly gruesome death to characters cracking jokes. It didn’t hurt my enjoyment too much, but I think it will make future viewings less amazing than they should be.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot more bad than good. The various shots and music cues that are ripped straight from the original make me revel in the thought of a double-feature on a future Halloween night. The music is astounding, Jamie Lee Curtis is fantastic, and Micheal is scary as ever. This is another win for Blum, and I’m excited to see what he does next.
I give Halloween 2018 a B+.