Directed by: David Gordon Green
Written by: David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, Jeff Fradley
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner, Nick Castle
Runtime: 109 min
Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode, who comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.
You can read my spoiler-free review of the original here: Halloween (1978).
My expectations for this sequel were slightly high. Jamie Lee Curtis returning to play her iconic role as Laurie Strode was something that instantly grabbed my attention as well as John Carpenter helping to produce this movie. The original flick is one of the 70s' classics and one of the most influential horror films of all-time, but the following installments were all, at least, disappointing.
David Gordon Green's version has its ups and downs. For each aspect that I truly love about this film, there's another one that I hate. Being this his first horror movie, he tries to pay homage to the 1978's film without borrowing too much of it, but sometimes it does come off as a repetition of a scene we've watched before. However, every moment of nostalgia doesn't feel forced at all. He is able to always transmit something with these shots without them feeling like nostalgia for the sake of it.
Jamie Lee Curtis is definitely a standout, and the way that she is able to incorporate Laurie is magnificent. She delivers a genuinely believable performance (something that was the original's major flaw, its acting) and Laurie is such a badass. I love the arc that this character went through during the 40 years since the escape of Michael Myers' killing attempt. She spent the whole period preparing for Myers' return, and she educated her whole family to be ready as well, creating relationship issues between the ones she cares about the most.
This is the best part of the screenplay, but unfortunately, it doesn't become the main focus due to poor script decisions. Laurie and Michael's reunion is extremely well-built but at the cost of some nonsensical subplots and secondary characters that mean nothing to the story. Her granddaughter, Allyson (Andy Matichak), has a silly high-school romantic subplot that has no purpose whatsoever. Then, some meaningless characters who only work as exposition devices to remember everyone what happened in the original, also grab a big chunk of screentime, and they really don't have a significant impact in the story besides providing a scene where the audience can finally see Michael kill someone.
I wrote "finally" because this movie takes a while to start and the tone of the film isn't well set. The first act is basically a rundown of what happened 40 years ago, and the script is heavy on lazy exposition. Once the movie starts to get its tone and atmosphere right, it outbalances itself by inserting comedy when there's no need to. Some lines you can just get past them, but some feel incredibly forced and ruin the tone.
However, even with all of these issues, David Gordon Green is able to deliver some fantastic scenes. The trademark suspense and tension of the original is well present in this one as well. There are a lot of scenes with Michael going through houses, hiding behind doors and scaring people up, and they are (for the most part) very well-directed. I can't say they are scary, but if you're going to watch Halloween (2018) expecting to crap your pants, then you have no idea what a Halloween film is.
It was never about the jump scares or the bloody deaths, even if the R-rating is more than required since it does elevate the killing scenes. The relationship that Laurie and Michael created is what kept me on edge until the end of the movie because those are the two characters that really matter. I do think they nailed the ending and I love that they kept Myers' most recognizable traits.
As far as the acting goes, it's obviously way better than the original (if it wasn't, this would be a huge flop). Even if we can't see his face, Nick Castle returning to portray The Shape is always a plus. Besides Jamie Lee Curtis' brilliant performance, Judy Greer (Karen) and Will Patton (Officer Hawkins) stand out from the rest with good displays. Their characters still have enough screentime to provide a good scene here and there, but there's one character that I think is the biggest misstep of this whole thing.
Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer) is supposed to be the new Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence), Michael's psychiatrist. Until the end of the second act, this character is just like the other secondary ones: he exposes a lot about Michael's backstory and talks about the evil that he carries inside him, etc etc. However, at the beginning of the third act, Green and his writers make a character decision that I honestly don't understand. I won't spoil anything, but it definitely comes out as a forced decision that changes the flow of the film.
Technically, it's as good as it can be expected. Obviously, it can't be compared to the 70s' movie, but it surely has some great aspects. The use of the lighting to create some very suspenseful scenes is outstanding, and Carpenter's score is utterly unforgettable. It not only sets the atmosphere, but it truly elevates the tension building up to another Michael's killing scene.
This could have been an amazing film. If they discarded the silly subplots and the meaningless characters, and focused on Laurie and Michael's meeting each other again, then this would have been a fantastic movie. I usually hate when directors start their films with text or narration, but in this case, where you're releasing a sequel 40 years after the original, I rather listen to 30 seconds of narration or waste one minute reading some text setting up this movie by explaining what happened in the first one than having to deal with these type of characters and their stupid side stories.
All in all, Halloween (2018) has as many ups as it has downs. For every plot point they get right, there's another one they totally screw up. Jamie Lee Curtis is phenomenal as Laurie, and the build-up to her reunion with Michael Myers grabs the audience until the ending, which I do think David Gordon Green nailed. Technically very good, it's frustrating and a bit disappointing that so many other fails exist. Unnecessary comedy unbalances the film's tone, which takes time to set the right atmosphere. Meaningless secondary characters who only serve as plot devices take a big chunk of screentime and Green's screenplay decisions lack discernment. Overall, my positives slightly top my negatives, but only by a hair ...