Halloween (2018)

A brutal, deliciously-wicked proper slasher & sequel to Carpenter’s 1978 classic, 2018’s Halloween is old-school authentic Horror steeped in nostalgic touches & sadistic atmosphere with modern tricks, stylistic flair, & psychoanalysis. 8.8/10.

Plot Synopsis: 40 years after Haddonfield, Il faced an evil unlike any other in crazed serial killer Michael Myers, he manages to escape from the psychiatric institution his bus transfer goes wrong in. The only person to survive Michael’s rampage, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) now faces a terrifying showdown and return – but this time, she’s ready for him.

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Review: October 31st. A day of macabre and indescribable aura we choose to dress up in costumes and celebrate all things scary and strange. But, this day and its colloquial title ‘Halloween’ also hold identity in the film community, and that face is: Michael Myers. A cold, senseless icon of evil stealthing in silence without motive or target beyond loss of life – complete with a bone-chilling mask personifying the Boogeyman – the titan of horror made his claim to fame in Carpenter’s thematic proto-slasher sharing the day’s name 40 years ago to date. After a slew of unwatchable sequels amongst the worst films *ever* made (looking at you IV & V) and haphazardly-handled mythology-building for the character, can 2018’s Halloween hit the reset button giving Mike the glorious modern rewrite/arc he deserves? The answer: Yes. A brutal, deliciously-wicked proper slasher & sequel to Carpenter’s 1978 classic, 2018’s Halloween is old-school authentic Horror steeped in nostalgic touches & sadistic atmosphere – with modern tricks, stylistic flair, & psychoanalysis to add to the pot.

The pitch and nostalgic touches. This 2018 reboot is set up to succeed from the very start through its brilliant premise: deciding to wash its hands of the filth of one of the worst film series in history and instead sequel the events of John Carpenter’s legendary/game-changing ’78 original. Bringing back the original cast members (spare Donald Pleasance’s impeccable Dr. Loomis. R.I.P.) from horror queen Jamie Lee Curtis to the Akkad family to attending officer Will Patton to even minor cameo’s, the film reads so much like the original only flash-forwarded, it’s scary. It’s chock-full of references and Easter Eggs to its ’78 predecessor carefully placed throughout the brisk 1hr50min time slot, while also reading like a nostalgic love-letter to the genre as dead and gone as any of its victims: (good) slasher flicks. From opening with its titular subject in the madhouse to a piano-iconic Jack-O-Lantern credits sequence/score to home invasion of babysitters to exact shot recreations like the kids bumping into Michael to reinvented scares like the infamous sheet corpse/backseat-strange/roof-fall (only this time it’s Laurie instead of Michael), 2018’s Halloween deserves its namesake invoking the best of its franchise’s past + maintaining its refined pitch-black tonal solemnity/nihilism – while adding some nice modern touches of its own.

The modern tricks, stylistic flair, and psychoanalysis. Make no mistake, 2018’s Halloween isn’t just nostalgia pandering for fanfare’s sake. It adds some tremendously nice touches to the series & lore as well. For one, the camerawork is crisp and full of stunning cinematography blowing away any previous Halloween film visually. There are some phenomenal slasher shots like the new sheet corpse set-up amidst silence and neon-hued revolving nightlights, dark-lit asylum abuse of patients, slow-mo reunite of Myers with his ultra-iconic mask (absolutely *perfect* design too with beautiful retouches like the blacker eyes and chalky wrinkling), end Allyson lifeless stare (perhaps teasing a possible rewrite of H4’s Jamie end – that would be INSANE!), and butcher knife skimming just over bursting luminous jack-o-lanterns with some inventive camerawork too like quick cut successions, long shots, and revolvers to add an indie stylistic flair to the madness atmospherics of its milieu and cascading original ’78 piano score with added synth chords for smoothness. It also adds some phenomenal new characters we actually *gasp* grow to care for in Laurie’s family themselves steeped in burdens like Karen having to grow up with a paranoid mother and have your innocent childhood be filled with fear and gunsmoke, Haluk Bilginer’s Loomis-reminiscent Dr. Sartain in a thrilling mole arc, Jibrail Nantambus’s hilarious Julian adding some nice comedy that surprisingly works as a palette cleanser mid-gore, and Andi Matichak’s screen-stealing (perfect final girl material) Allyson. The psychoanalysis arc and relevancy to our modern times and #MeToo (however controversial the phrase is – great/important movement in theory, but can also be used by liars/false accusers for sadistic purposes) make for a brilliant screenplay reflective of the evils we face in modern times as well. Rewriting Laurie as a basket case twice-divorced who can’t even grow to feel anything or get past the events of that fateful night psychologically is absolutely genius also indicative of some victims’ PTSD and psychosocial effects and making for some intriguing analysis of Predator vs. Prey dynamics between Laurie/Michael with lines like “I would expect the thrill of being predator and fear of being prey are what keeps both of them alive.” Exceptional.

The brutality in kill count. Finally, the absolutely bludgeoning hard-R to even-X murders is what lifts this film into summit territory far above the majority of the genre. The trail of mangled corpses Myers leaves behind is absoliutely sadistic rife with some of the most messed-up kills in even Halloween’s history – a series not exactly known for taking it lightly on its personification of evil’s dutiful ending of lives. We literally see a man’s head snapped back a full 180°, elderly woman beaten with a hammer, impaled kid on a barbed fence, multiple necks-snapped, brains squished into mush with a bare boot, knife jammed in back head while hair is grabbed, jaw ripped open to collect his bloody teeth, reporter trapped helplessly in a bathroom stall, kid pinned to a wall like a bear-rug, sheet-corpse teenager used as a decoration, and dismembered head of a policeman used as a freaking jack-o-lantern – HOLY F*CK. 2018’s Halloween is quite simply one of the most brutal slashers I’ve ever witnesssed – and I’ve seen pretty much every one ever released almost as critic – and truly represents through sublime directional screenwriting by Green and Blumhouse even at times feeling darker than the original – the unspeakable, inimitable horror of its godly-powerful but devilishly-motivated, cold, calculating life-ender who anyone who’s ever seen his gaze has met a screaming death at his hands.

Flaws include some SJW-isms and slow opening rife with awful characters. The film kind of virtue signals at times feeling like its checking off points on an agenda that should not be present and we could not care less about in a slasher fick. Constantly pushed is a narrative that Allison’s in the National Honor Society (seriously, it mentions it like literally 4-5x.. Bush league accomplishment academically btw, but I guess the filmmakers really wanted you to know: girlz r smart!!!!) at times making her feel like a Mary Sue character at first, Karen’s also the boss of her practice, and some auditory disdain towards redneck ways of life early on (I’m not even against their positions but WHY force social justice points into a movie about serial killers no one asked to have included as a priority and feels political in this growing problem in modern filmmaking? *Sigh*, what happened to keeping business and pleasure, work and politics separate?). Also, the opening of the film is surprisingly.. weak. A beautiful trend in modern Horror specifically is an arms-race to supply show-stopping opening scenes serving as almost a couple-minute summary of the scare premise/idea of the film like in A Quiet Place, 2017’s It, or even 2009’s (awful but spectacular opening scene) Friday The 13th reboot. Instead of setting the bar high and tone dark from the very beginning with a spectacular scare, we are introduced to awful characters who nearly devoid the film of interest for the first 20 min or so: some shoddily-acted reporters who serve little to no purpose in the film at all and should have definitely been diluted or written out altogether in place of a better opening. The psych-ward madness opening from the trailers also comes out overlong, cacophonous, and messily-executed in the film’s (chaotic) opening that eventually corrects course in the last 2/3 but only after a wasted first act that’s definitely jarring and mismatched to say the least.

Overall, 2018’s Halloween is a brutal, deliciously-wicked proper slasher & sequel to Carpenter’s 1978 classic with old-school authentic Horror steeped in nostalgic touches & sadistic atmosphere plus modern tricks, stylistic flair, & psychoanalysis. Although it starts sluggishly with uninteresting side character journalists and a promising but haphazardly-executed psych-ward intro, it evolves into a truly chilling and brutal modern slasher film far above the rest of today’s field feeling new but also vintage at the same time. Everything from nostalgic homages to the original with Easter Eggs like the Ghost Sheet and Jack-O-Lantern reimagined in new ways, inventive camerawork and development of new characters with stylistic direction from Blumhouse (inarguably the king Horror studio right now), & a fresh and unique B-plot exploring what really happens to Horror movie survivors (if they really survive at all) by genre queen Jamie Lee Curtis reprising her role as Laurie, Halloween 2018 is the closure and proper sequel we deserve as fans after that string of god-awful previous sequels, finally closing with finality (or foreshadowing a thrilling new path if the end scene turns out to be teasing future sequels) the story of Michael Myers

Official CLC Score: 8.8/10