Review – Halloween (2018)

    Halloween (2018) was directed by David Gordon Green and written by Green and Danny McBride. Green and McBride are together again after working on the Pineapple Express in 2008. Halloween (2018) takes place 40 years after the events of the original Halloween (1978) and centers once again around the Strode family. The movie begins with two podcasters that visit Michael at his psychiatric ward, where we meet Michael’s caretaker, Dr. Sartain. After unsuccessfully trying to provoke Michael, they leave and he is transported to another facility. And just like the first movie, there is a prisoner breakout and Michael escapes and heads out in search of Laurie. The rest of the movie is pretty much what one would expect from a Halloween slasher; Michael kills people, much more grotesquely compared to the original movie, and the police and Laurie hunt Michael and try to put a stop to his killing spree.

     Halloween is a mixed bag; some moments it is very suspenseful, while at other moments the comedy that McBride is known for greatly undercuts the tension. There are some scenes where the comedy works; there is one scene involving a little kid being babysat that was extremely funny. However, there are many instances where the jokes fall flat; a scene where Allyson, the main teenager and Laurie’s granddaughter, is being embarrassed by her dad talking about peanut butter and a scene with two cops talking about French sandwiches. These scenes seem to be improvised and the jokes don’t land.

     Another problem in the movie is the characters and the twist. Everyone knows the common trope about slashers: many of the characters are just caricatures of people, the jock, the cheerleader, the nerd, but it would be nice if horror movies today tried to make characters more than that. Some characters, along with being one-dimensional only seem to serve one purpose. For example (SPOILERS), after the podcasters visit Michael they decide to go to Haddonfield and they need to stop for gas. At the gas station, one of the podcasters goes to the bathroom and inexplicably Michael is there, who proceeds to kill both of them. He then collects his mask and drives away. The only purpose the podcasters served was to deliver Michael’s classic mask to him. At a party Allyson sees her boyfriend kissing another girl at a party, another dumb high school trope, and they get into an argument. The boyfriend then angrily throws Allyson’s phone into chip dip and no one can call her for the rest of the night. The boyfriend’s sole point of being in the movie was to dispose of Allyson’s phone. And finally, like most horror movies today, there is a twist in the movie. Michael is hit by the sheriff’s car, which Allyson and Dr. Sartain are in. The sheriff is about to shoot Michael when Dr. Sartain stabs him. The twist was pretty effective, the doctor being influenced by Michael over the years and wanting to see him kill again in “the wild”. However, where the twist falls short is in the after-shock. Dr. Sartain puts an unconscious Michael in the back of the car with Allyson and the tension builds and builds until … five minutes later Michael stomps on the doctor’s head and it squishes like a pumpkin, and just like that, the twist is over. It had no lasting effect on the overall story and was barely there to begin with.

     The character problems could have easily be solved and by doing so would have made the movie more fluid and tight. The podcasters could have been cut out of the story by just having Dr. Sartain be the one to give Michael his mask, as he had been influenced over the years and it would have made sense. As for losing her phone, Allyson could have just been running from Michael and she could have dropped her phone and forgotten to pick it up, as she was scared for her life. These small changes would have cut out unnecessary characters, the boyfriend and the podcasters, and cut the runtime. However, the director probably didn’t want to do this as the runtime is already short, coming in at only 1 hour 44 min. (END SPOILERS)

     Now Halloween (2018) wasn’t by any means a “bad” movie. The cinematography, the score, and the acting, especially from Jamie Lee Curtis, are pretty good. John Carpenter classic Halloween theme permeates the score of the movie and many of the scenes from the original Halloween are recreated, tributing the original movie. The only problem that comes into play is when comparing this Halloween (2018) to Halloween (1978). Halloween (2018) score is good, but the original is better; the new Halloween’s cinematography is good, the original’s is better (Green films some shots in fantastic long takes while shooting other ones in close up shaky cam for seemingly no reason). The new Halloween pales in comparison to the original and while that is not ideal, it is to be expected. Not many sequels surpass the original, let alone horror sequels.

     Halloween (2018) had its moments of tension, all culminating in a great finale. Jamie Lee Curtis shines, even though her screen time is limited and she was underutilized. This entry in the series gives a possible end to Michael Myers while also leaving an opening for more sequels. Halloween (2018) is a satisfying entry in the long-running series that will probably continue to run on.

 

Verdict

Ben: B                                                                                                                                       Ryan: B+

 

Written by:

Ben Bennett and Ryan Walakonis

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