In 1978, John Carpenter took a simple idea, a micro-budget of around $300,000 and created a masterpiece of horror cinema. Halloween (1978) created a star out of Jamie Lee Curtis, an icon out of Michael Myers and as a result, mad a name for himself. John Carpenter took his little horror film and made it one of the most influential, successful independent movies of all time.
Due to its success Halloween, garnered a string of sequels and even a reboot of the original. The franchise has seen many directors take the helm, from Rick Rosenthal to Rob Zombie and now David Gordon Green, his creation marking the 40th anniversary of the original film.
Announcing Green as director and Danny McBride as co-writer was an odd choice, considering the majority of McBride’s career thrives in the comedy genre and Green possesses an extremely eccentric directing filmography. However, as release day came nearer, doubts were replaced with excitement.
Despite the warning signs, fans of the franchise expected a masterpiece like the original movie, possibly due to the involvement of Jamie Lee Curtis, Nick Castle and even John Carpenter himself.
Instead, fans were met by a movie riddled with problems throughout.
In spite of the many problems Halloween has, it must be said: it’s still extremely entertaining and shines in a few moments.
The main problem?
Lack of originality. It suffers from the ‘Force Awakens effect’ – meaning it takes the story of the original film and makes very little changes.
Of the minor changes and new ideas, the introduction of Laurie Strode’s PTSD is fantastic and when Jamie Lee Curtis is given her time to shine she shines bright, putting in a performance so good you forget that Laurie Strode is just a character and not the woman Jamie Lee Curtis has been for the last 40 years. The way in which the ‘new’ Halloween takes references from ‘old’ Halloween and then switches them around does a great job of adding to the development of Strode’s character.
Unfortunately, the majority of new ideas really don’t add anything at all. Laurie’s PTSD happens to be the best part of the film, but even then it really isn’t focused on enough, due to David Gordon Green deciding to shed more light on Laurie’s family, rather than Laurie herself.
Deciding to focus on how the family has been affected is a good idea, it’s just executed badly. Firstly, all members of the Strode family could have been taken out of the script and it would still work. In fact, it would probably make for a better film.
The family consists of Laurie’s daughter, Karen, played by Judy Greer in one of the year’s worst performances and biggest miscasts. Then there’s Laurie’s granddaughter, Allyson, who we care for, but not enough to take the focus away from Laurie. And finally, son-in-law, Ray who’s there purely to make extremely out-of-place, unfunny jokes. By the third act the family dynamic improves, but it simply isn’t enough.
It’s riddled with dispensable characters
Besides Laurie and Michael, it’s difficult to think of any characters who are truly vital to the plot, with the majority simply there to die or move the story along in an extremely lazy way.
The inclusion of Vicky (another character who adds almost nothing) is surprisingly welcome as her scenes with Julian (the child she’s babysitting) are some of the best and most well-balanced of the whole movie. Much like Annie, Bob, and Ben Tramer in the original movie, it’s clear Vicky and Julian will go down in infamy.
Myers is also dealt with brilliantly, perhaps not as subtle or as creepy as the original, but this is definitely the most brutal the character has ever been. Each kill was just as horrible as the last.
The aforementioned problems aside, Halloween is extremely enjoyable. A lot of it feels unfocused, but the balance of comedy and drama in the strong script make up for this. Going in, you probably won’t expect to laugh as much as you do.
Halloween is a fun, entertaining movie and when you choose to ignore all the flaws, the quality rises a substantial amount by the third act, leaving us with a smile on our faces. It might not be the strongest of the franchise, but it’s certainly the best sequel and brings much-needed closure to those who have feared Michael Myers for the last forty years.