The Halloween franchise has had a total of I think 11 movies, and the series has been rebooted at least two different times. Have I seen them all? No, but some of the ones I have seen are absolutely awful (cough, Rob Zombie’s Halloween II). So in 2018, director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, George Washington) decided to take his own stab at the franchise with the very creatively titled… well, Halloween. The movie was a big box office hit and it was pretty good fun, even if it played a bit more like Scream than Halloween.
The last time we saw Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) on the big screen was in the ghastly Halloween: Resurrection, in which Michael found her in an institution and, probably by means of escaping the franchise forever, she met her maker. Curtis returns as Strode in Gordon Green’s film, and how you may be wondering? Well, you’re not given a title card or anything explaining this, but you’re to know going into Halloween that the film ignores every single sequel. So Strode and Michael Myers are no longer related, and the film takes place some 40 years after John Carpenter’s original masterpiece, and disregarding any movie that came after it.
Halloween, as a movie, serves the original better than its original sequel, Halloween II, which wasn’t a bad movie but of course didn’t live up to the heights of the original (Carpenter wasn’t involved in it either). I hadn’t seen Halloween since its release back in 2018, and I liked it a little less this time because I do believe that, while it is a fun and ultimately satisfying movie, there are a few questionable and albeit unnecessary touches made here. But at least the silliness in Halloween appears to be intentional. Halloween is a fun popcorn ride that was made with care, and it even had Carpenter’s blessing. So you’re in decent company.
So yes, 40 years after the events of the original film, we find Michael is still silent and horrifying, but he was ultimately captured and institutionalized. I would be really curious to see them apprehend Michael, seeing as he’s a hulking monster. How did they get handcuffs on him? Stuff like that appeared in my train of thought quite a bit while watching Halloween, but I guess this film is more focused on the big picture. Anyways, after all this time Michael is about to be transferred to another prison and on the eve of his 40th anniversary. Obviously, Michael’s lone survivor, Laurie Strode (Curtis) is a bit shook by the possibilities of what Michael will do, but she’s also ready for battle.
So, about Laurie. Following that fateful Halloween night, Laurie was essentially left traumatized, thus leaving her estranged from her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). Karen was actually taken away from Laurie when she was a child because Laurie was deemed unfit. Traumatized and all, Laurie is however fully equipped with survival techniques and a house laced with traps, awaiting Michael’s return. One thing that was also on my mind watching Halloween is, who was the father, and where was he? I like to pretend that, since Curtis is married to Christopher Guest, that Laurie married one of his characters. Particularly Corky St. Clair. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to see Michael Myers go against Corky St. Clair? Halloween Ends, take notes.
Anyways, so as you can imagine, Michael does escape from the prison bus. And naturally Laurie starts panicking and trying to warn her family, who think she’s a kooky old nut. Ha ha, they don’t know what’s coming. Michael eventually retrieves his mask from a pair of podcasters (and clearly, they didn’t live to tell the tale) and he sets off on a Halloween murder spree as Laurie prepares herself for another showdown.
Halloween doesn’t break any narrative ground, and it is essentially Halloween’s Greatest Hits, but that’s also part of the fun. The problem with this Halloween is that it can feel a bit too jokey. It’s okay to have to have humorous one liners but this film has scenes that feel like comedy sketches, and it feels like you’re watching a different movie. Take a pair of victims, father and son, who stumble across the prison bus. Right before this transpires, the young son is telling his dad that he isn’t interested in hunting, and hunting is getting in the way of his dance classes. It’s an amusing bit, but, why is it in Halloween? Maybe it’s because the film is co-written by Danny McBride. Or maybe it’s because they wanted these victims to have more personality before they become dead meat. The way I see it though, it’s as if McBride had some jokes he wanted to include in a movie, and for whatever reason he included them in Halloween.
The stuff with the teenagers is sort of flat too, as is a last-second twist that doesn’t really add to the movie besides runtime. There was a simplicity to Carpenter’s film- man haunts and stalks prey for 90 minutes- that was a work of beauty. Yet when the film sticks to the basics, it works. The finale too, is good. One critic who I deeply admire tried saying that this climax was supposed to symbolize three women going up against a predator. Must we read this much into everything? It’s the 12th friggin’ Halloween movie, relax.
Carpenter’s Halloween was a terrific shock fest. Gordon Green’s Halloween isn’t, but it’s decent fun and an enjoyable throwback. What the film gets right- its score, its body count, its jumpiness, etc.- makes it worth seeing despite its flaws. The real draw of the film though, and its ultimate secret weapon, is Curtis. She was the reason why this film was as successful as it was. She really gives it her all here, and while we have seen multiple shades to Laurie Strode in the decades since Halloween, this one finds Curtis in top form. The newest Halloween film, Halloween Kills, is being released tonight, with another film to follow. As long as Curtis is onboard, so am I.