A Thank You To The Makers of the New 'Halloween'!
Written by Kevin Donaldson
I am a horror movie fan. I’ve sat through all different works of sheer brilliance, your standard hack and slash films, and, of course, I don’t know how many times I’ve seen an awful sequel to a beloved franchise. For the first time ever in my life of consistently showing up to theaters or watching them on my couch, I feel like this year was the first time I was given the horror movie sequel I, as a fan, deserve. I am of course talking about this year’s release of Halloween.
Before getting into it, I have to say that there are certainly horror movie sequels that I love. Sitting at the top will have to be A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. However, I was not even alive when Elm Street 3 was made. I was also not a completely established fan by the time I saw it, along with Wes Craven’s New Nightmare when I was a child nursing a cracked skull (a story for another time) watching it on television. This time, I’m in adulthood, I’ve seen every Halloween movie (even whatever those Rob Zombie ones are), and I was able to see this true sequel in a dingy theater at 10AM on a Friday completely alone… In short, it was one of the best viewing experiences I’ve ever had.
So, what made this so great compared to other sequels? Well, for starters, the production value is noticeably better, since they got an actual established director behind it. He may not have ever made a horror film before, but director David Gordon Green has one of the craziest and most diverse filmographies out there; if anybody outside of horror could pull off something great, it is he. The only other well-known American director living today that could be seen as having equally diverse chops is producer, composer, and original Halloween director John Carpenter (but "Atlanta" director Hiro Murai will be one to watch in this department as well). Carpenter also returned to this film to make a new soundtrack, and he sounds better and more haunting then ever! Green partnered up with unlikely co-writer Danny McBride to finally pull off something worthy of all fans of horror movies in general: an actually good horror sequel that doesn’t always pander to the audience but never forgets who it is for, while also making logical choices a sequel should do, like with Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode.
For one, Jamie Lee Curtis is great as her Final Girl character Laurie Strode as an all-grown-up badass Survivor Woman. Despite the fact that she has reprised this role in the past (for Halloween II, Halloween: H20, and, briefly, in Halloween Resurrection), this is the first time the character has really evolved into something unexpected, but in the best way possible that makes the most sense. If you can’t tell from the trailer above, then I’ll come out and say it: She’s gone insane. After a series of divorces and issues with her only daughter, Strode has physically left Haddonfield behind,, but that one terrible night with killer Michael Myers in Haddonfield has never left her, which is apparent from her need for the sanctuary of essentially a bomb shelter in the middle of the woods with more ammunition than the local police department, that she constructed herself.
Strode’s house has many similarities to the 3 houses from the original film, with one of the bedrooms even being a total recreation of the one where Strode fought off Myers at the end of Halloween (1978). She has a pit area with mannequins that practically don’t have heads from her years of practice with getting as many headshots off as she can. As the movie goes on, her deranged mental state is shown off more as we peer through the barbed wire fences she built around her property to keep people like the podcasters in the beginning of the film out, and this is where I will warn that there are SPOILERS ahead!
The most interesting character developments are small but tell a lot and they all relate to the non-relatable masked killer himself, Michael Myers. While Myers is not supposed to really have a motivation for his killings throughout the series, there was of course the revelation that Laurie Strode is his sister and he needs to kill her. It is then transferred down to her orphaned daughter, Jamie Lloyd, played by horror convention fan-favorite Danielle Harris. Now that it is declared in both the trailer and movie that they are not related. it just appears that he has a thing for getting stabby with women home alone in their house. We can’t forget that his first kill was his sister Judith, whom he stabbed after she had a record-time quickie with some guy that happened so fast she couldn’t put her shirt on. While we still don’t learn much of anything about Myers, there are two instances in which he doesn’t kill children.
First is a moment from the trailer where he runs into kids wearing Halloween 3: Season of the Witch masks that leads into a Halloween 2-style tracking shot homage. Second, after said tracking shot kill, he walks past a crib with a crying baby (reportedly voiced by Jamie Lee) and looks into the crib, but opts to not kill. Since he never kills kids in the original, he has either always had this moral code or it’s something he picked up in his 40-year stint at a mental institution, which leads to a 3rd moral high ground by Myers -- he doesn’t kill his fellow adult patients from the institution during his jail break off the bus that sets the movie into motion. BUT, he does kill a kid in this scene who tries to drive away in a pick-up truck after telling his very ancient father he just wants to dance, but I’m gonna chock that up to necessity in Myers's mind, or maybe he thought the kid was old enough. His thing is that he’s a mystery to be never solved, so let’s stay in the dark on this one.
With the Season of the Witch masks in play, then it’s apparent there are non-canon sequel references. As a result, there are a ridiculous amount of “bet-ya-missed-this" Easter egg videos that hit YouTube before the button the uploader pressed at Universal, or wherever they were, was cold, so needless to say there are nods to the original and the non-canon sequels of the past. My favorite Easter Egg, however, is my own theory (narcissist!) that doesn’t even relate to the sequels. There’s a new doctor character introduced in this film that is dubbed by Strode as the new Dr. Loomis and I think he’s a giant "eff you" to Halloween remake director Rob Zombie. While fans almost universally have problems with his first film remake, there is a pretty big split down the middle for hatred and appreciation of the second, especially from Carpenter himself.
Here’s a breakdown of why I think this new Dr. Loomis is Rob Zombie:
1. This doctor is obsessed with finding out what makes Myers tick, despite his mentor Loomis (insert Carpenter for Loomis) telling him that he’s just pure evil and there’s nothing there. In real life, Zombie made the first half of his first film into a harrowing tale of making a serial killer at home centered on Myers. The second one did something with a white horse and hallucinations of his mother (and Zombie’s wife) Sheri Moon Zombie.
2. Speaking of Zombie’s second Halloween, he made a notoriously controversial move:
Yup, Myers shouts "DIE!", and to make it worse, he does this while his face is completely exposed… The new Loomis is all about hearing Myers speak. He’s been watching Myers at the institution for years, hoping for one day to have a conversation with the man, even if he only says one word. With Myers stomping on his head and thus providing the best practical effects I’ve seen so far this year, I’d solidly say this was all an elaborate dig at the Devil’s Rejects director, which is actually a horror sequel I like much better than its original, House of 1,000 Corpses.
The final thing that I really appreciate is how this could be a fantastic film for the whole family. Yes, the whole family! This is essentially a story about 3 generations of women attacking a killer to hopefully cleanse themselves of inherited trauma, and that’s more than I would’ve expected to get out of something from the slasher genre. My only complaint is that Laurie Strode has pretty much destroyed her personal relationship with said family due to her obsession and stalking of a man she thought to be her stalker. With Myers's initial random killing of women alone in households, then it would’ve been interesting to see Strode have to grip with the fact that he never cared about her. The man is just a force of pure evil and only wants to kill who crosses his path and seems vulnerable. Strode was just caught in the crosshairs that one night, and Myers may or may not have thought about her since then. Then again, Strode is so far gone mentally that she may have created her own narrative in her head… oh heck, I’m just gonna have to go see it again!
Overall, is this is a great movie? I’m inclined to say, absolutely. Will I say that it’s for everybody? No, but those who saw the trailer would be able to figure out for themselves if they could like it or not. It’s pretty much a "what you see is what you get" type of deal. With that said, I would say that any new horror fan, or a horror fan that has somehow never seen the original 1978 film, will more than likely really like this. As a big fan of the original, something that struck me as great is that you didn’t need to see the first film to get what’s going on in this one. They don’t bore you with the details of what happened or do a complete visual recap like some lesser movies, but they give you everything you need to either refresh your memory or learn for the first time seamlessly throughout the first act. It could standalone completely and be a great horror film on its own, so hopefully they don’t cave and make a sequel… but I’m sure they will.
Finally I would like to say thank you to Danny McBride, David Gordon Green, John Carpenter, and Jamie Lee Curtis for making this. That’s totally cheesy-sounding, and I’m sure none of them will ever read this, but, hey, for finally getting the horror sequel I felt I always deserved, I gotta thank somebody.
Take it away, Johnny!
(Image via Universal Pictures)
- Kevin Donaldson, YH Contributing Writer