Halloween (2018)

A lot of us have those family members that we are forced to cut ties from, the ones who haunt us sometimes with thoughts that we may see them again. The bonds of family are intense and almost impossible to erase. We do not choose these bonds and they can quickly become chains in bad situations, burdens we can only remove by limiting access. Of course, when those family members are mentally unbalanced, things become even harder. Dealing with unbalanced people like that is bad because they are extremely predictable until they become erratic. They lull you into a false sense of security and then they are suddenly in your face and potentially causing mental or physical harm. While none of my relatives have ever been potentially violent, I have known people who were. The scars of the past fade with time but they never truly go away. Any reminder can bring those scars back into focus and sometimes reopen the wounds we thought were closed.

I guess I should explain why I do not talk much about the Halloween franchise. The fact of the matter is that I held a grudge. I felt that the original Halloween was really good as you would expect from John Carpenter. After that movie is when they made a mistake. Originally, Halloween was intended to be an anthology series. Mike Myers was the villain for the first movie but any subsequent movies were to have different plots and different antagonists. Unfortunately, the studio got cold feet and pulled the trigger on Halloween 2 which featured the return of Michael Myers. Then they proceeded to their original plan and released Halloween 3 which featured a wildly different plot that mixed science fiction and magic. The movie was really good and felt more innovative than Halloween 2 and it showed promise for the original plan. However, the fans were confused and the studio panicked and they went back to Michael Myers and scrapped the original plan. I had sour grapes about that but now I’m willing to revisit the franchise.

The first thing I noticed was how the movie referred to the franchise history without really talking about it too much. Michael is set up to be almost a demigod of murder because his legend has been told for 40 years. I also really liked how they told a story rarely told in horror movies. They showed the survivors and the toll the event took on them and not just the survivors but the effect it has generationally. I love the slow burn of this movie and the deliberate pacing which causes tension long before anything actually happens. I love when horror villains are treated like forces of nature where everybody sits up and takes notice. The effects felt straight out of the seventies and eighties, all practical and all-natural. This is a straightforward slasher/action hybrid as if it was a sequel of the original movie, bypassing eight movies in the process. I really liked the cinematography and the set design which always provided for the perfect staging ground for the action.

Of course, if you have seen even a whiff of the promotion for this movie then you know that the star of the show is once again Jamie Lee Curtis. Except whereas she earned the same “scream queen” status of her mother in the first film, here she radiates different energy. She is a woman 40 years removed from the worst night of her life and she is not about to let it happen again. Michael does all of his acting through body language and that is done well by Nick Castle (the original) but mostly stuntman James Jude Courtney. Andi Matichak steps into the position that Curtis originally occupied and she is instantly likable. Haluk Bilginer takes the place of Donald Pleasance, a psychologist desperately trying to help. The rest of the cast is really good and provides plenty of depth to the movie.

Overall, I really liked the movie as it provided a good, straight-up horror movie and actually fought against some of the tropes and cliches of the genre while still honoring it. Obviously, the makers of this film loved the original franchise but wanted to reign it in by giving it a soft reboot. In that way, they simplify the lore and give a new starting point for horror fans like me. It makes me really want to see what the two planned sequels will be.

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