I have been obsessed with slasher films since my early days of obsessing over films. This sub-genre of horror has been possibly the most influential to modern horrors and every once in a while, you just have to re-watch one of these classics. Indeed one of these 70’s-80’s charms that I return to every year is John Carpenter’s Halloween. Possibly the most influential slasher film of them all, Halloween has its special place in horror fanatics alike thanks to its atmospheric horror and simple execution. 40 years on we are once again treated to a “recalibration” of this cherished film with the return of Jamie Lee Curtis as Lorie Strode. As soon as Jamie Lee Curtis was back on board, so was I and if Creed 2 wasn’t being released this year, this would easily be my most anticipated film of 2018.
Let’s first get to what everyone is dying to watch, the ultimate scream queen and the ultimate stalker killer. Both of these characters are treated like royalty to which they are. The look of Michael Myers has been vastly improved on since the plain bright white of Halloween H20, it looks like it has aged between the 40-year gap. His presence as this silent stalker is so unsettling, one of the ways I think this film improves on this is that nothing is missed out. There is a scene at a gas station after Michael has just escaped and he murders the attendants, but during that scene, his movements are tracked by the camera in the unfocused background, you see his walk towards the station, you see him strangling the attendant all through the tiniest windows of sight. It’s a really nice touch to an already established lurker.
Jamie Lee Curtis is so comfortable reprising Laurie Strode she is easily the best part about this film. The rest of Hollywood take note because this is how you evolve a character. Since the events of the original Halloween, we learn she has been traumatized by the events to the point where she has devoted her life to preparing for Michael Myers return but in doing she has sacrificed a strong relationship between her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). They could not have evolved her character in a more thoughtful way and Jamie Lee’s performance is fantastic, she can be vulnerable one minute and the next minute a badass with flair. I believe the people behind the film did this because people who love Halloween have wanted this showdown for a long time and director David Gordon Green delivered it to them.
The iconic music is back and John Carpenter himself turns an already iconic soundtrack and gives it a welcoming update. There is a lot more inclusion of electronic tones but not letting it overpower those famous notes that support the tone of the film. I think the film will get some criticism to how the music is included in the film, you could be midway through the scene and the music hits, but this follows how the original Halloween cut its own music, so it depends on how much you know about the original.
The kills of Halloween are kept very simple and not as over the top as most horrors like to do. When the film shows the aftermath of the kill, the gore is maintained to the minimal, until the very end of the film when it does become over the top. There is a lot of psychoanalysis into the mind of Michael Myers, mostly from his doctor Dr Sartain (Haluk Bilginer) who wants to keep Michael alive so he can have a deeper understanding into why he kills. For the sake of this exploration there is one scene that really shocked me and in that single moment added a moral conscience to the character. After killing someone Michael sees a baby and those in the know what happens next, but it doesn’t. Michael walks away and in that moment, you are hit with a tsunami of character depth.
I compared this film too often the original but with good reason, part of me felt that Halloween relied too much on original tropes. The film mirrors iconic setups and scenes from Carpenters masterpiece from the wardrobe scene to the staircase scene, even the ghost bedsheet costume makes an appearance. I never got the feeling that David Gordon Green wanted to put his own spin on what made Halloween great. John Carpenter has given the music a modern twist, but the formula remains too similar, some would say this is a good thing as it stays true to the original but I’m someone who always wants to see some evidence of a film evolving.
Apart from Myers, Laurie and her family, I couldn’t get myself invested in most of the new characters in the film because they seemed to have a one-dimensional purpose to the story, the film starts out with two investigative journalists examining the events of the original but that’s it, that’s all they do, should I really care about their investigation or what happens to them? There are of course characters that are in the film so they can be killed by Michel in classic horror ways like tripping or trying to escape in ways where they’re just dooming themselves.
To say this is a perfect encapsulation of the original Halloween would be untrue, the original was a perfect example of the right things in the right place at the right time and this rendition is far without many problems, however, there is something this film has that is admirable and pleasing to horror fans, respect. The slasher genre to me is a gem, the comedic attempts, the character stereotypes, the downright outrageous invincibility of the killer, its elements like these that give the genre an endearing personality. I believed for a while that that age of slasher films was in a time lock, that what was achieved could never be done again, I’m hoping that this Halloween will set off a chain reaction where we can get more respectful “recalibrations” just like this.
Final Result: 7/10 – Good
Have you seen Halloween? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Bohemian Rhapsody