Warning: This review alludes to aspects of the plot.
The twin pillars of brand recognition and greed aside, what was the reason for reviving the Halloween franchise? After all, there was an anniversary movie 20 years ago in which Jamie Lee Curtis reprised her role as Laurie Strode and decapitated her psychotic brother Michael Myers, thereby, we hoped, bringing an end to John Carpenter’s long running celebration of serial killing.
Halloween as a concept has of course been remade multiple times, with copycat killers turning up throughout the eighties to butcher horny teens. So having been sequelised, ripped off, and deadened by familiarity, one thing we can perhaps all agree on is that nobody was calling for a direct sequel that ignored all that came before, directed by the maestro behind Pineapple Express, and featuring jokes written by Danny McBride. But that, it seems, with both John Carpenter’s approval and participation, as he acts as composer in this new movie, is what we’ve got. A movie that positions itself so close to the original that it even borrows its title without adding a suffix. This is just Halloween the continuation, and fuck you if you had any love or nostalgia for the original Halloween II, H20, or even, if you’re mentally challenged, Halloween Resurrection.
A Halloween movie that identifies so closely with John Carpenter’s 1978 original really needed to justify itself beyond the promise of big box office. We’ve already had the aforementioned H20 after all, so H40 really needed more than a few points of differentiation, revisiting the story in original ways. Instead the movie concentrates on replicating the low rent, low-budget, b-movie sensibility of the original film – it’s self-consciously clunky, brutal and without finesse, just like its 40-year-old counterpart. The problem is that Green is so fixated on recreating Halloween that he’s forgotten to innovate Halloween.
The sequel elements, such as they are, represent largely predictable and one-note developments of the original premise. Strode has grown up to be a Myers obsessive, in the Sarah Connor mode, who has alienated her daughter and granddaughter with talk of the killer’s inevitable re-emergence. Donald Pleasance’s Doctor Loomis is dead but no matter there‘s a replacement character who is obsessed with Myers’ pathology, ready and waiting to see how the inevitable rematch will pan out, though strictly in the cause of clinical psychology you understand.
Sadly, Green and McBride are only really interested in remaking their favourite movie, giving fans of the series what they’ve seen so many times before. The movie as it is hints at what might have been, if the filmmakers had any guts. Laurie Strode might of flipped, becoming a danger to her family, just as her brother had; Michael Myers’ doctor, having seen the subject of his life‘s work killed, might of chosen to appropriate his psychopathy in a bid to realise his lifelong dream of understanding Myers’ compulsion to kill and what, if anything, he got out of it.
Instead, the movie reverts to type in no time at all, asking us to buy into a series of nigh on supernatural coincidences that allow Myers to reprise his killing spree almost without a hitch. This encompasses everything from him knowing where to find the journalist who visited him in state prison so he can re-acquire his William Shatner mask, to acting in a way that precisely follows the movements anticipated by his sister, who has set a trap that marries with the script perfectly. It’s as if she read it.
Ultimately, Halloween 2018 is a moderately entertaining b-movie chiller, evocative enough of the original to please diehard fans, but frustrating for those who hoped the rematch between Strode and Myers would take the franchise in a new and interesting direction, or at the very least provide a satisfying conclusion. It does neither, for it doesn’t dare to be different, and consequently it has the distinct feel of a redundant cash in.