Halloween: Michael Myers is back and this time with a serious case of amnesia

Posted on 30 October 2018
By Rob Lea
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Halloween (2018) directed by David Gordon-Green, acts as a direct sequel to Halloween (1978) ignoring all the sequels and reboots that have gone between the two.

The film-makers do refer to the events of the previous series, such as Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) being Myers’ younger sister, by dismissing these elements as stupid rumours that were created around the original incident.

From this, it is very clear that Halloween (2018) is extremely ‘meta’. The film-makers seem to be making a comment on not just the franchise, but on the state of the slasher-genre in-general.

The film’s most brutal deaths are reserved for the characters who seek to ‘understand Myers’ motivations. Strode Explains early in the film, Myers doesn’t have motivations, he just kills.

The weakness of many of the Halloween sequels has been that aim to explain why Myers is the way that he is. Halloween (2018) is clear; he just is.

Halloween is most effective during the scenes in which Myers works his way through the suburbs offing victims with almost clinical precision.

Director David Gordon-Green, under the watchful eye of creative consultant John Carpenter, understands that Myers works best when he operates at the edges of the screen and goes unnoticed by his victims. He invades these suburban settings. That’s why he is so unnerving.

As well as restoring this sense of Myers’ ‘alieness’, the returning Carpenter brings back his score from the original film, possibly one of the finest horror scores next to Psycho and Jaws in its effectiveness.

Unfortunately, Halloween (2018) can’t compare to the tension and atmosphere of its 1978 namesake. There are moments when you think it is approaching at least a rough approximation of this tone, but it’s frustratingly derailed. A prime example is a cut to two comedy police-officers during what should be a shocking twist in the film’s third act.

The wise-cracking should cease as Michael stalks his prey, the fact that there was laughter in the cinema during what should be a harrowing scene is unfortunate and left me wishing that the film-makers had enough faith in the atmosphere they were building without undercutting it for a cheap laugh.

The film is a strange mix of brutal and tame.

There are moments when it seems that Gordon-Green is telling you “beware, there is nothing that is beyond this Michael” especially with the film’s first on-screen kill, but then when a truly horrific act is teased, Myers pulls back and it is dodged.

It’s a strange decision for the film-makers to tease at this event and then not deliver. If they hadn’t wanted to show such a horrific and I’m glad they didn’t go there, why tease it?

They show themselves to be accomplished enough to know that such a swerve will only destroy the tension they’ve painstakingly built in the scene, one of the most brutal and effective in the movie up until that point.

There is a pleasing depth to Jamie lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode in Halloween (2018). We see that she has been preparing for the return of Myers for forty years, but rather than her simply becoming a reclusive bad-ass ala Linda Hamilton in Terminator: T2, we are shown the devastating effect this has had on her daughter, Karen Nelson, played by Judy Greer and her grand-daughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak).

We see what the events of ‘the night he came home’ has had on three generations of women in this family. It’s a real shame that Greer and Matichak don’t get more to do.

The other characters in the film are fairly weak, especially Allyson’s teenage friends who are painfully one-dimensional to the point I wondered if they are deliberate parodies of the usual slasher-fare.

It’s clear that the film desperately misses Dr Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance), this franchise’s Van Helsing. His brief appearance in an audio recording just reminded me how empty the Halloween franchise has seemed since Donald Pleasance passed away.

Ultimately Halloween (2018) is a pleasing enough horror-outing and ranks as one of the better Halloween sequels. Unfortunately, it is somewhat cursed by baring the exact name of a film that it simply can’t live up to. It also bears the weight of the audience’s knowledge that this will absolutely not be the last outing for Michael Myers so the experience is ultimately anti-climatic in nature, which is a real shame.

The harshest critic of the film may well be Laurie Strode herself. When confronted by two podcasters looking to investigate the Myers’ killings, she tells them and the audience categorically: “There are no new insights or discoveries.” to be had.

Unfortunately, Halloween (2018) left me in agreement.”