Forty years after killing five people, Michael Myers escapes from the mental institution. Having survived the previous attack, Laurie Strode (Jaimie Lee Curtis) has been preparing for his eventual escape. She must now protect her estranged daughter and granddaughter from the onslaught and finally put an end to Michael Myers.
Halloween (2018) proves that there’s still life to be found in the basic premise of the franchise. The slow-moving but immaculately patient shape is just as menacing as ever. The film focuses on his extraordinary strength. Although he no longer resembles Rob Zombies brick lavatory, he is a powerful beyond his lank frame. The violence is brutal and abrupt, making the anticipation all the more unbearable.
Traditionally Myer’s victims (like most other movie killers) have been female. Whilst there is something very empowering about seeing three generations of women band together to take on the aging creep, the Film still dwells longer on its scared and pleading female victims than his male ones. Additionally, the Strode women seem to face the conundrum of being either happy but weak or strong and capable but embittered. A fairly traditional hero’s dilemma.
Although the film ignores the continuity of the franchise’s other entries it cannot abandon the baggage of forty years of filmmaking. As Myers makes his dramatic escape from incarceration it’s hard not to think of the many times he has managed to do this before, an exasperation lost on the main characters for whom this is a novelty. There’s an incongruity to the weariness of Curtis’ character and the comparatively contained night of terror she has endured. Her embittered survivor attitude makes a lot more sense in the context of an entire franchise worth of suffering.
Jaime Lee Curtis brings Laurie Strode’s paralyzing terror and resolute determination convincingly to life. She’s a vulnerable character, embittered by forty years of fear and helplessness. Once the action starts, her methodology for trapping Myers is fabulously well thought out. She’s very savvy to the tactics he typically employs to stalk his victims and has developed measures to combat them. Watching her plan unfold is a wonderful subversion of the typical predator-prey dynamic, occasionally recalling the spontaneous thrills of Adam Wingard’s You’re Next.
John Carpenter returns to compose the film’s score alongside Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies. It’s a wonderful score that captures the subtle brilliance of the original work whilst also adding layers of complexity that heighten the suspense. The initial cut to credits with the new pulsating theme sent shivers down my spine. It was perhaps the most affecting moment of the film and it’s Carpenter’s fresh take on his classic score that made it.
Halloween is a fine entry to the franchise. It’s tense and brutal whilst still being just the right side of campy and fun. It doesn’t revolutionize the formula but it offers genre thrills and crowd-pleasing excitement. We’ve come a long way from the subtle tension of the original film, and it’s a shame not to see something more subdued tonally, but there’s plenty to enjoy about this Halloween.