“The night he came home”, even after 40 years on, John Carpenter’s horror classic remains an endearing part of Horror cinema. Not only changing the concept of the genre but just how marketable and financially successful a film with a minimal budget and fewer resources could be.
Originally titled “The Babysitter Murders” the story is that a young boy named Michael Myers murdered his older sister and so is confined to the care of Doctor Loomis (played by veteran character actor Donald Pleasence), who diagnoses him as pure evil.
Michael Myers subsequently escapes his confines of the asylum and arrives at his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois on Halloween night, where babysitter Laurie Strode (played by then discovery Jamie Lee Curtis) must fight along with Loomis to survive Michael’s killing spree and defeat the monster that he is.
Earning early-on negative reception by critics, over time it became revised as a brilliant piece of film-making and an influence on directors to this day.
Because of the film’s box office success, several sequels were spawned, either to capitalise on the ‘slasher’ craze that emerged during the 1980’s, most of these did not earn the respect of the critics or the vast majority of fans of the original. Halloween 2018 is the third attempt to bring out the series from the doldrums, from Halloween H2O in 1998 then Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake of the original was not warmly embraced by both circles.
The story here re-writes everything the sequels and the remake created and goes exactly 40 years on since the original film’s timeline.
Laurie Strode has become a paranoid mess since the events of the first film, having been estranged from her daughter (played by Judy Greer) who she has fought to protect and train alongside her granddaughter. Michael Myers has since been captured and held prisoner at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium where two journalists arrive and confront him with his trademark mask.
After a prison transfer gone wrong, it enables him to escape once more and go back to the town that made him a legend. Laurie gets word on his escape and arms herself ready to stop him and assembles her family, for what she has been preparing them for all their lives: the return of Michael Myers.
This particular sequel is certainly an affectionate one. Director David Gordon Green (Undertow, Stronger) and writer Danny McBride have effectively carved an entry that attempts to evoke the original film’s style and pace. The opening credit sequences and theme alone are replicated and there are nods to the original that is shown in certain scenes that retain a feeling of homage.
Jamie Lee Curtis is fantastic in reprising her role, exuding a broken down but strong persona she was left scarred after her last encounter with Michael; she is clearly having a ball portraying Laurie Strode as essentially a ‘Sarah Conner’ figure ready to battle her enemy once more. Judy Greer is also very good though not always given enough to do, as much screen time with her is left to the side for Laurie’s granddaughter and her high-school friends; Laurie is ready to party and have a good time as the genre often features in these stories.
David Gordon Green also knows how to light and direct Michael Myers as the haunting bogeyman, with scenes where Michael appears in shadow, or in jump scares involving a cupboard evoking a sense of dread and foreboding, Nick Castle reprises his role as Michael and clearly has lost none of that movement and menace that originally made the character popular.
There are elements where the film falters, much of the film places a bigger emphasis on teenage characters as a way that seems very marketable but takes away more important plot strands, including the relationship between Laurie Strode and her daughter. Some of the pastiche pieces of the film as mentioned earlier, work for me but others may feel that it’s simply re-treading ground and reminding of them of something better that came before this.
There is also one plot device near the third act involving a central character, that when it was revealed, felt very mind-boggling and almost took me out of the film entirely. Overall Halloween 2018 is certainly a cut above the past sequels, which probably wasn’t that hard seeing as one entry involved Michael Myers facing off against Busta Rhymes, (really!).
The acting is great particularly from Jamie Lee Curtis, the atmosphere evokes dread and suspense, there is good use of gore presented here, and works as a decent follow up to John Carpenter’s Bogeyman-fearing masterpiece.
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Nick Castle, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton
Director: David Gordon Green
Producers: Malek Akhad, Jason Blum, Bill Block
Writers: Danny McBride, Jeff Fradley