Dir. David Gordon Green (2018)
Erasing the canon established by the nine previous films, Halloween picks up forty years after the original to find Laurie Strode's family once again in danger.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Everyone who has read my site has probably picked up on my love for Halloween. It's my all-time favorite movie and I've seen it literally hundreds of times. Michael Myers still scares me, and every time I see that pumpkin with John Carpenter's legendary score filling the room I get goosebumps and I'm transported back to when I was a kid watching scary movies for the first time. When they decided to release a direct sequel to the original in 2018, I was totally down and went in with sky-high expectations that they would be able to recapture the magic from the original film.
I cannot tell you how disappointed I felt the first time I saw this movie, feeling like new series director David Gordon Green had slapped John Carpenter, Michael Myers, and me in the face all in one fell swoop. The movie felt like a cheap cash grab that disrespected the nine films that came before it, an effort that left even Curse shining by comparison. After multiple rewatches I can honestly say that I was a bit too harsh on this film at first, because it really is a badass sequel with some great gory scenes and a terrifying leading man who captures a lot of the essence of the original. It also feels very much updated, a movie that doesn't depend on shadows to hide a murderer that strikes from them while delivering a very 2018-style film.
After several views, Halloween 2018 is about as good as you're going to get with a direct sequel to the original film. The bathroom scene is almost perfect Halloween with more brutality. I appreciate, in retrospect, the attempts to make this film a follow-up to the original, and while I don't think it was the best idea to ignore the canon established by Halloween 2, I get why the establishment that Laurie is Michael's sister is hard to encompass into a new story. Jamie Lee Curtis is, of course, the best Scream Queen of all time, and making her the elder victim in this film who has passed her generational trauma onto her family was a brilliant move that allowed for some truly incredible scenes of a broken woman and her disturbed familial relationships.
Curtis is excellent and completely steals the show, but newcomers Judy Greer and Andi Matichak are a fantastic addition as well. Jamie Lee is a known quantity, and while she ratchets up her performance as an older, newly badass Strode, Greer and Matichack are thrust into her 1978 role, suddenly finding themselves the hunted as Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney) has returned to Haddonfield again. Courtney brings a new physical, beastly presence to the Myers character, sort of a cross between Carpenter's original vision and Zombie's hulking behemoth of a murderer. He has clearly been working out since 1978, because even though he is 61 years old in this film, he is a badass of epic proportions. He tears through townspeople like a hot knife through butter, setting the stage for an epic showdown at Strode's paranoia-infused compound in the stellar finale of the film.
I recognize, in retrospect, how serious fans of the major horror commodities feel when their beloved films are remade. I don't know that it was possible for me to love this film on my first viewing, All in all, Green did the best job he was capable of doing, and the team as a whole crafted the best direct sequel that it was possible to make. The action is there for gorehounds, and the acting is all around fantastic. Courtney plays Michael wonderfully, and I was delighted to see Curtis returning to a non-campy version of Laurie Strode. While this one isn't even my second-favorite in the franchise, it really is an excellent sequel that deserves much more love than I was willing to give it on release. See, I can admit I'm wrong sometimes...
Who this movie is for: Fans of the original who are willing to give it a shot, Modern horror fans, Podcasters with a death wish
Bottom line: Much better than I initially thought, Halloween 2018 is a more-than-adequate followup to the original film. While you can certainly criticize some of the choices made and are free to be disappointed that it doesn't have quite the same spirit as the original, Halloween is a fantastic effort at recapturing the magic of the original film while heading in new, often-brutal directions. Green is a good director, and if you can't be happy about Jamie Lee Curtis returning to her Laurie Strode roots, then maybe you're just incapable of being a happy person at all. Thankfully, that's no longer me, and this movie rocks as much as its capable of rocking.