Halloween: Movie Review

In 2018 it was decided to revitalize a horror saga that had hit rock bottom after starting with one of the best films ever made in 1978 (John Carpenter’s Halloween). The idea was simple: to make a sequel to the first film ignoring all the other 130 chapters released over forty years. The film takes place forty years after the events narrated in John Carpenter’s film, something which allows reusing the two original protagonists (Laurie Strode and Michael Myers) and having them interpreted by the two actors who had worked in the first film and who in the meantime had really aged by forty years old (Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle).

This time it seems that those involved in the project wanted to do things right, and John Carpenter was involved more actively than usual. Compared to the sole role of executive producer for the sequels that usually amounted to him collecting the check he was entitled to for creating the characters in the saga, here he is the author of the soundtrack together with his son Cody and the son of The Kinks guitarist Daniel Davies (of whom John is godfather). The three are main members of the band with which John Carpenter travels the world on tour like a real rockstar! Finally, the Maestro also appears in the most of the special contents of the Bluray edition of the movie, further evidence that there’s a certain respect for his work, or at least that the creators of the new film recognize the value of Carpenter and of what he had created on a ridiculous budget in 1978.

And who are these creators? The director is David Gordon Green and he co-wrote the film with Jeff Fradley and Danny McBride (maybe someday someone will explain to me why a comedian like him worked on this movie). Did they do a good job? In my opinion, it could have been a lot worse, but at the same time I can’t say I’m completely satisfied with this film. But let me start with the plot.

Forty years after the Halloween babysitters’ murders in Haddonfield done by Michael Myers who escaped from the facility where he was incarcerated for killing his sister when he was just a child, Myers is in jail, there’s a psychiatrist (Dr. Sartain, Haluk Bilginer) who continues Dr. Loomis’s studies, and Laurie is living a life of paranoia with the result of being separated both from her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), entrusted to social services when she was 12 years old, and from her niece Allyson (Andi Matichack). Basically, Laurie only waits for Michael to return and the rest of the world considers her a lunatic because Michael is supposed to remain in prison until the end of his days. But…

Michael escapes on October 31st and begins killing one person after another until he arrives in front of Laurie for the second time, forty years after the first one. There’s also a babysitter losing her life in the process, like forty years before. And Laurie falls out of a window and when Michael looks out she’s not there (in the first film, Michael fell and Dr. Loomis looked out). And then there’s someone under a sheet, Michael breaks doors and tries to to strangle people hiding in wardrobes…

In short, this film follows the manual of the perfect sequel / reboot / remake because it pays homage to the original, it follows in its footsteps with some repetition but without being a complete copy (it’s not Star Wars VII!), and it introduces young new characters in order to breathe new life into the saga. Of course, most of those characters die, but, besides Laurie, Karen and Allyson survive, ready to be the protagonists of the sequels.

Moreover, the soundtrack is spectacular, which is always a plus: the usual theme is there, but Carpenter and company add equally atmospheric music that perfectly accompanies each scene of the film. The direction also tries not to deviate too much from the Maestro’s style: the camera is often still, there are no frenetic cuts, the film is full of dolly shots, and many scenes pay direct homage to those of the 1978 film. And the yellow opening credits on the black background are just perfect!

In short, I believe that the respect for the original work is not just a marketing operation: I have the impression that the creators of the film are real John Carpenter fans! Yet, from a certain point of view, this film gives the impression of being something coldly planned by producers only interested in money, perhaps because it follows the above-mentioned manual too slavishly. Also, there are several things that could have been done better.

First of all, the script: it’s cool that two journalists (Aaron and Dana, Jefferson Hall and Rhian Rees) want to interview Michael Myers. But would you scream at a multiple murderer with clear psychological problems? I know I wouldn’t. And, more in general, there are a lot of people shouting in this film even when there’s no need for that. Also, it seemed a waste to me to kill off the two characters who kick off the whole story so early in the movie!

True, the film is filled with murders and blood. Unfortunately, though, Michael kills a lot of people that we viewers don’t give a damn about: either we’ve never seen them (the father and son running into the prison bus, the mechanic, the elderly couple at home, the two policemen…) or they are quite hateful characters like Allyson’s friends, who are not characterized enough to create empathy with the public anyway. Personally, even Karen and Allyson didn’t seem much to me, perhaps due to the timeless charisma of Jamie Lee Curtis overshadowing them…

The other thing that I didn’t understand is the following: Laurie has already witnessed Michael surviving gun shots and falls from huge heights: what makes her think that more gun shots can kill him? Hasn’t she understood yet that he (it!) is pure evil, just as Loomis said?

To conclude, these are my only complaints: the plot sometimes feels a bit forced and the characters are a bit weak, they don’t seem interesting enough to justify a trilogy, which turned out to be the plan of Gordon Green and colleagues. But this film was a huge box office success so they were surely right and I’m wrong!

And in the end, perhaps I am only disappointed at the fact that an operation of canceling useless sequels has proven successful with Halloween (even if the movie recycles information on Michael taken from the second film, which was written but not directed by John Carpenter), but not with Alien (due to Ridley Scott preventing Neil Blomkamp from giving a worthy follow-up to James Cameron’s Aliens)… But I’m digressing! In 2021, the second chapter of this trilogy will be released, and it will become the third entry in the ideal story begun in 1978, and we’ll see if Gordon Green will be able to make another box office success and, above all, if he will be able to improve himself and make a horror film that is something more than above average. Ciao!

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