*WARNING WARNING WARNING: Mild spoilers below
In the messy media landscape/graveyard where executive buzzards go to pick over the carcasses of dormant properties, I guess it was not exactly a surprise we got a new Halloween movie.
It also was not a surprise it came from an unusual pairing (director David Gordon Green and usually comedic performer Danny McBride), but, what shocked me, truly and utterly, is that the new Halloween (or Halloween 2018, if you will) is a genuinely interesting and rather smart film.
In the piece, the other Halloween movies are a thing of LSD-hallucinations past. Gone are the plot points about Druids, weird Gothic sex rituals and Michael Myers’ niece having a psychic connection to him. Instead, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) returns to fight the shape alongside daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (played here by Andi Matichak).
As I sat down to watch this, I didn’t know what I would get (after all, even though John Carpenter returned, even James Cameron and Wes Craven returned to properties they birthed later on in exchange for a shit-ton of money to hype up piss-poor movies), but was intrigued by the depiction of lingering trauma. In a world where so many heroes and heroines of horror are either killed off in the next chapter or totally fine, it was nice to see Laurie Strode clearly unwell.
Laurie drinks, Laurie is alone, Laurie drove off two husbands. All thanks to her belief that the mysterious Michael Myers would one day return to further traumatize her life. Her granddaughter holds her at arm’s length, her daughter resents her and, when the time comes, to see these three women come together in a strong and confident way is truly something special.
And, the film also avoids an issue too many later sequels and remakes get stuck with.
Throughout the movie, Green also does what too few directors doing a piece in a well-worn series fail to do, he pays homage to what came before, but in a SUBTLE way. No, you won’t see blatant references to Halloween H20 or Halloween Resurrection, but there are flickers of remembrance. Masks from Season of the Witch here, the Mark of the Thorn there, it is really quite nice. Why couldn’t George Lucas be as restrained with the masturbatory prequels?
So, the movie is good and, yes, the performances and story are solid. But at a lot of points in the movie, the comedy comes out. I wouldn’t really classify Halloween 2018 as horror. Instead, its more of a snapshot type of film. Showing what would happen in this year if a deranged nutcase wandered a small town looking for people to kill. Drunk teens vent to him before the stabbing starts, smart children wisely run away and most people talk like well … people. I’ve never seen such plausible dialogue in a horror movie.
While its honest, it took me out of it a little bit.
If you want to see a good movie, check out the new Halloween. If you want to be scared, examine something else. It is a great movie and a fascinating look at how trauma can impact generations, but not a Horror entry which will keep you up at night after leaving the theater.