Director David Gordon Green, working from a script by Danny McBride, has crafted a fun and surprising direct sequel to the John Carpenter original. What they present here owes much to the fact that attitudes toward mental health have changed since the original, while still reveling in the relentless, violent menace of the original’s killer.
In 1978’s Halloween, Laurie Strode thought she dealt with escaped killer Michael Myers. Played by Jamie Lee Curtis, Laurie went through a harrowing ordeal, stalked over an entire day by a lunatic in a white mask, surviving only after committing her own act of violence against him. Over the following decades, the Halloween film franchise sprawled and rebooted, meaning that technically Green’s film is the “Second Halloween 2”. Thankfully, we skip all those sequels as if they never happened. You need nothing from them to enjoy this film.
The setup is simple again: In 1978, Michael stalked and attacked Laurie, and she fought back.
But, in 1978 there would have been limited (if any) mental health support for Laurie after the events of the first film. In the 2018 movie, Green and McBride give us a Laurie who has lived in a paranoid, survivalist fear these last 40 years, estranged from her daughter and unable to function in society without constant worry about when Michael would return for revenge.
Of course, everyone says she’s crazy to consider it. Of course, they are wrong.
In the new movie, the kills are relentless, almost methodically vicious, with an excellent sound design. The effect is to make Michael an unstoppable, inevitable threat. From the moment you see him, mask-less and obscured, there is a sense that nothing else could happen but the carnage that follows. Where the film finds its best footing is in the twist on the narrative provided by Curtis’ Laurie, a powerful and prepared fighter who has done nothing but ready herself for this movie’s third act. References to the original abound but aren’t in front of the present story.
By skipping all the middle story, Halloween (2018) provides an efficient, incredibly violent but wildly enjoyable ride through action/horror territory. It’s a welcome continuation of a classic franchise that requires little in the way of a learning curve.