‘Halloween’ returns to form 40 years later


Universal Pictures | TNS

The character Michael Myers in the 2018 “Halloween” film.

By Apoorva Kethidi, For The Pitt News

It has been 40 years and 10 lackluster sequels since the original “Halloween” film was released in 1978, and now, the franchise finally returns in all its glory — for the most part. Despite many attempts, it seems the movie industry will never nail the sequel to the iconic spooky film.

This year’s “Halloween” has moments of great intensity and suspense in the backdrop of an alluring atmosphere — but even with all that, the film could have been stronger and more developed in regards to plot.

The film begins with both the one and only slasher-dearest, Michael Myers, portrayed by James Jude Courtney, and The Shape at a rehabilitation hospital. Nick Castle, who played Michael Myers in the original film, played The Shape — the shadow of Myers that haunts his victims.

The hospital has been his home for the past four decades. Keep in mind that director David Gordon Green chose to approach the film as if the past 10 sequels had never happened. This is a direct sequel to the 1978 version, set in present-day.

The four decades since “The Night He Came Home” have not been kind to sole survivor of the Myers attacks, Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis. She has become an alcoholic isolationist who suffers from severe PTSD. She’s obsessed with guns, weapons and protection to the point that it has cost her two marriages and even had her only child Karen, played by Judy Greer, taken from her by the state.

Even after all these years, the enigma of what makes Myers so murderous is unknown. This mystery is why Myers’ psychiatrist Dr. Ranbir Sartain, portrayed by Haluk Bilginer, has an utter — and often dangerous — fascination with the killer. Dr. Sartain takes over for Myers’ original psychiatrist Dr. Samuel Loomis, portrayed by Donald Pleasence, from the original film. They may be different characters, but they are as equally unstable.

The story takes off once Aaron and Dana, a pair of true-crime podcasters played by Jefferson Hall and Rhian Rees, attempt to interview Strode to try to get her to agree to a face-to-face interview with Myers — however, she declines, due to her severe PTSD.

Their request sets a chain of events into motion that leads to Myers escaping prison during a transfer to another facility. This is accomplished with the help of Dr. Sartain, and it becomes evident he is just as insane as Myers himself.

Myers strikes almost immediately — leaving behind a trail of bodies, nearly triple the body count of the original, probably in order to keep up with modern expectations of a movie of this kind. With nearly 100 years of horror films under Hollywood’s belt, one could say viewers may be desensitized to death in films, so to make up for the loss of shock more killings are added. Otherwise, audiences may think that a film wasn’t scary enough or bloody enough for them — but the 2018 “Halloween” successfully keeps up with these expectations.

The story wisely sets the focus on the characters, which makes the horror aspects more compelling as opposed to an abundance of secondary or anonymous characters. The film does well in keeping with the thrilling tone of the original movie as well — especially when Myers makes his way to Strode, who is more than prepared to take him on.

As the movie progresses, it becomes increasingly apparent how utterly supernatural Myers and his mask are. The viewers do not need to see him walking around front and center — rather, he appears in the background or in the corners of eyes until he strikes with a great impact.

Though this film is incredibly entertaining with many great moments and performances, one could say it is a bit frustrating in the sense that an even better movie is somewhere in there.

All of the ideas are put in place to have a new take on the Halloween franchise and a great film in general but it falls a little flat in that department. It could have been a kickass, good vs evil, manhunt, revenge film that flips the script with Myers being the one hunted by Strode. Rather, the writers stick with keeping it as a “soft reboot.”

For how strong Curtis’ Strode was, she could have been even more. Green should have included scenes of her fighting and lifting massive weights like other characters in revenge movies, and fewer scenes directly from the original.

Next time, the writers — Jeff Fradley, Danny McBride and Green — should choose this route rather than simply making another remake or reintroduction to the franchise. The writers just need to keep trying and incorporating new ideas considering the plentiful sequels mostly fall flat due to their lack of originality.

Nevertheless, Green’s “Halloween” is easily the best one since John Carpenter’s, who was an executive producer on this film. It didn’t stray from the original storyline while adding depth, emotion and confidence to a franchise that has stood on shaky ground.

“Halloween” doesn’t reinvent the wheel or create a new subgenre of horror, and no one actually expected it to. What it does do is take the best parts of all the films in the franchise, and deliver the ultimate companion piece to Carpenter’s original masterpiece.

It’s a film that not only has something to say about trauma and the severe impacts that can follow not just the victims but the lives of everyone close to them, but also delivers an incredibly entertaining time. Audiences seemed to have more than enjoyed it with its $76 million opening weekend and a sequel currently in production.

In this upcoming sequel, the writers should focus on Strode and her daughter and granddaughter — Karen and Allyson, respectively — as they deal with the shared traumatic experiences of that night since so much of this film focuses on Strode’s PTSD. It will do the franchise well if the writers give Myers a purpose. Why is he driven to kill? What’s the motive? He needs to be deconstructed further.

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