The original Halloween (1978)1 launched numerous sequels, imitators, a couple of remakes, and a genre. None match the purity or the quality of the original. Forty years after Mike Myers first stalked onto the screen, we have this sequel, which ignores everything in between. Myers has been incarcerated since '78 and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has become disturbed herself, an eccentric survivalist whose life has been defined and shaped by that long-ago night. Her estranged daughter has a teenage daughter, and they all live in and around Haddonfield.
Then, in the least-surprising development since the time that couple who didn't get on fell in love by the end of the Rom-Com, the Shape escapes.
He heads home to Haddonfield.
Laurie Strode is waiting.
Halloween toys with the notion that evil, in a fashion, can be infectious, contagious. In addition to questions about Strode's mental and moral stability, the recorded voice of Loomis2 reveals a man who went over the edge obsessing about Myers. Other developments reflect this theme. It's a chilling notion, and one the film doesn't overplay.
The first part of the movie echoes and repeats the beats of the original, while offering fan service and increasing the body and gore count. It doesn't go so far overboard as the Rob Zombie remake, but too many deaths still blunt the effect, and the murder of characters we don't really know doesn’t have much effect in the first place.
The final third takes a bit of a divergent path, with an unlikely twist and a suspenseful confrontation between Myers and Laurie, assisted by her progeny of Last Girls.
The film is well-acted, and the teens and kids are more credible than usual for a slasher movie—although that genre has set the bar absurdly low. We also get some fun interplay between Julian and his babysitter-— before their lives take a grim turn. This Halloween also benefits from impressive editing, and superior production values to its predecessor. It serves up some scares, a few thoughts about evil, and a few laughs. Overall, it's not a bad movie.
It just doesn't add much of anything to the genre. I'm really hoping the ending is as final as it seems. I get that studios cannot ignore their cash cows, and Halloween remains a fine piece of horror history. Like all of the other sequels and remakes, however, the 2018 edition has no artistic reason to exist at all.3
Directed by David Gordon Green
Written by David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, and Jeff Fradley
Based on characters created (and heavily influenced by a script) by John Carpenter and Debra Hill
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Judy Greer as Karen
Andi Matichak as Allyson
James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle as Mike Myers
Haluk Bilginer as Dr. Sartain
Will Patton as Officer Hawkins
Rhian Rees as Dana Haines
Jefferson Hall as Aaron Korey
Toby Huss as Ray
Virginia Gardner as Vicky
Dylan Arnold as Cameron Elam
Miles Robbins as Dave
Drew Scheid as Oscar
Jibrail Nantambu as Julian
Michael "Mick" Harrity as Warden Kuneman
Omar J. Dorsey as Sheriff Barker
Charlie Benton as Officer Richards
Diva Tyler as Caretaker
Sophia Miller as Young Karen
PJ Soles as Teacher
Colin Mahan as the voice of Loomis
1. The original film had antecedents, of course. It owed a significant debt to Alfred Hitchcock, and Carpenter included references to Psycho (1960), specifically. The basic premise and some elements came from Black Christmas (1974). However, Halloween took horror in its own direction and it succeeds in ways that Canadian thriller does not. Carpenter's success, without question, birthed the slasher genre.
2. Colin Mahan, impersonating Donald Pleasence, who passed in '95.
3. While I don't consider Halloween III: Season of the Witch to be a particularly good movie, it tries to do something original. However, as it carries over only the title and theme song, it's not really a sequel. The plot and characters do not connect to the rest of the franchise in any meaningful way.