It’s hard to describe where the trend of revisiting old films with old leads and trying to form a new head on the franchise came from, if I were a betting man I would say it truly rose in popularity upon the release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) – in any case, whether these revisits to older franchises with the aged leads end in catastrophe or success is the only metric that holds meaning. Halloween (2018) is most certainly the latter.
Halloween (2018) it continues the story of Michael Myers, a renowned serial murderer that continues his spree in the modern world, as he finally confronts Laurie (the girl who got away) in the original Halloween (1978), played by actress Jamie Lee Curtis.
Much like John Carpenter’s original Halloween (1978), director David Gordon Green attempts to honour Carpenter’s genre defining slasher concept in its purest form. Slashers are designed to be classic popcorn fun, the jump-scares and slow walking murderers are all part of the horror experience, and that is exactly what we’re given here. Director David Gordon Green shows a clear devotion to this genre and to what Halloween is supposed to represent as a film and as a story. There is careful attention made toward building Michael Myers as a force to be reckoned with, as something soulless, evil, without remorse – his towering stature and almost robotic presence exudes a sense of strength and mercilessness.
However, the film also attempts to build on the psychology of Michael Myers as if it was something fascinating, something to be studied, when it is anything but interesting. While this film satisfies horror fans with a taste for gore and axe-murderers, not all in this classic horror is popcorn fun, some of its flaws are reborn, specifically the poor character writing for all of its cast. The idiocy of its characters is hard to ignore, from the outrageously illogical decision-making, to the immersion breaking ineptitude of its lead protagonist. Halloween simply fails to adapt in character building, keeping on its old mask and never trying on a new one, the narrow eye holes of its mask impair its vision and prevent it going from fun to great. Characters aren’t required to be fools for the plot to be enjoyable or the villain to be menacing. Horrors like 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) use their lead characters effectively; they’re smart, cunning, and proactive, and despite all of this the villain remains threatening and the tension higher than ever; Halloween needn’t be an exception, but clearly it is.
The only notable performance that has any significant degree of screen-time is none other than Jamie Lee Curtis – she certainly rekindles her performance as a far more paranoid and battle-worn Laurie, but lacks in convincing me that she is experienced and trained in combat. All other protagonists lack so heavily in character development that I connected more with a young babysitter and a smart-mouthed kid than I did with the primary cast. I felt that sticking to the roots of its story had positive and negative repercussions, as we’re stuck with bland characters that the story is forced to use.
What this film excels at is its visual style, its tight editing contributes to it being a comfortable viewing experience while blending light and funny moments into the film. Above all, it is the camera-work that stands on top, it uses clever visual tactics to trick the audience, and a stunning one-take that follows Michael on a rampage killing spree with the camera following inside and outside houses as Michael wreaks havoc on a quiet neighborhood. Additionally, we’re accompanied by the classic Halloween theme song, this theme trickles in and out at just the right times and never overstays its welcome. Bringing in the original composers assisted in creating a both nostalgic and appropriate sound for the film.
Halloween is classic slasher fun and has been directed with care and intent, despite suffering from the same shortfalls as one would expect to see in an early 2000’s campy horror flicks, it’s the kind of film you can sit around have a laugh, have a scare, and enjoy without the stuffiness of making horror films complicated. This slasher cuts strokes of originality straight out of the 1978 film, with a classic style that feels as vintage as the villain itself.