In 2018, director David Gordon Green along with co-writers Jeff Fradley and Danny McBride managed to do the near imaginable – they managed to once again make the Halloween franchise – and Michael Myers – relevant again.
The great John Carpenter’s Halloween is as near to perfect as any slasher film can be and the 1978 horror is a masterful exercise in suspense, augmented by come exceptional camera work (the opening is still stunning) and a wonderful score. A multitude of sequels and remakes followed (all of varying quality) but none matched the powerful simplicity of Carpenter’s original.
As writers Green, Fradley and McBride took the exhausted franchise back to its roots, eliminating the convoluted continuity of the series in order deliver a ‘true’ sequel to Carpenter’s classic. Adding authenticity to the endeavour, Green and producer Jason Blum lured Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis back to the franchise. Both executive produced the 2018 film, with Carpenter once again scoring the action alongside musical collaborators Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies. While the film doesn’t quite match the stripped-down simplicity of Carpenter’s classic (what could?), it’s still an exceptionally well made slice of mainstream horror cinema.
Halloween 2018 begins with an institutionalised Michael Myers (Nick Castle, James Jude Courtney) pulling the strong and silent treatment on a pair of podcasters (Jefferson Hall and Rhian Rees) who are delving deep into the events which occurred in Haddonfield, Illinois in 1978. However, an evil awakens in Myers and he escapes to seek out Laurie Strode (Curtis), the lone saviour of the his 40 year-old killing spree. Strode is still suffering from the trauma of that fateful night, but she’s been waiting and preparing for Myer’s return. Myers might be doing the stalking, but Strode is doing the hunting and her prey is The Shape behind Haddonfield’s infamous babysitter murders.
Ultimately, horror films live or die based on their characterisation. The exploitative nature of the genre means that filmmakers often disregard character in order to get to what people has paid their cash for – the killing. Audiences then have zero investment in the characters getting killed onscreen. Green and company, sidesteped this pitfall with style, building rich characters over the film’s fist act. Whether it’s the aforementioned podcasters or Strode’s daughter and granddaughter (Judy Greer and Andi Matichak) you feel for every character – and therefore every death has an impact. The performances in Green’s Halloween all impress (special mention for the mighty Will Patton) and Jamie Lee Curtis builds on her signature role, with Laurie Strode now turned into a Sarah Connor-style ass-kicking, gun-wielding warrior.
Halloween’s stand-out sequence is Myer’s very bloody Halloween night killing spree and it features some wonderful cinematography from Michael Simmonds (this is a very good looking film), which perfectly compliments Carpenter’s iconic score. Green’s film also features a lot of humour, which helps cut the tension and add to the small character moments. If the film has a flaw, it’s a late in the game plot twist which doesn’t quite pay-off and while it’s not enough to derail the film, it is a stand-out blemish in the top-tier horror.
An impressive follow-up to John Carpenter’s masterful slasher, Halloween managed to continue the narrative of the original and reboot a creatively dead franchise. Audiences agreed, and the $10 million film grossed over $159 million at the US box office and $255 million globally. A sequel Halloween Kills opens in October 2021 and trilogy capper, Halloween Ends arrived on 2022.