Tonight is Halloween, so Halloween is the obvious film choice!
The remaking and rebranding of horror film franchises has become a regular occurrence. From sequels, continuing the stories audiences love, to reimagined versions that transform the horror into a framework more suited to a modern audience. The 2018 version of Halloween does both of these – and neither of them – at the same time!
In the continuity of the Halloween franchise, this version, which was released 40 years after the original John Carpenter film, is a direct sequel to that original film. It’s 40 years later in the film as well and Michael Myers escapes from prison, coming back to kill his sister? Resume his crimes? Probably yes, all of those and more. Jamie Lee Curtis returns as the badass babysitter who is channelling Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Conner, learning how to shoot and defend herself for the moment she knows is coming. This film had some great reviews, especially after some less than stellar sequels and an attempted reboot in 2007. Welcome to the last night of October. Welcome to Halloween!
Presented below is the trailer for the film.
A pair of investigative journalists, Aaron Korey and Dana Haines (Jefferson Hall & Rhian Rees), making a podcast about Michael Myers, visit him and his doctor, Dr. Ranbir Sartain (Haluk Bilginer), to get more details on the events from 1978. Aaron shows Myers the mask he wore during the killings 40 years prior, but to no effect. Aaron and Dana then visit the town of Haddonfield, Illinois, to talk with Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), a survivor of Michael’s murderous spree, who now lives in an isolated cabin. She rejects their premise that there is no boogeyman, and then asks them to leave.
Laurie’s daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and her family have a strained relationship to Laurie, stemming from Karen’s upbringing and Laurie’s inability to cope with the traumatic events from her past. That evening, October 30th, a bus transporting Michael, Dr. Sartain, and a number of other prisoners crashes and Michael escapes. He finds Aaron and Dana at his sister’s grave and follows them to a gas station where he kills the station attendant, mechanic and then the two of them. He retrieves his mask from their trunk and heads towards Laurie’s old house.
Karen’s daughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) attends a costume party at school with her boyfriend Cameron (Dylan Arnold), where she sees him making out with another girl. Upset by this, she and her friend Oscar (Drew Scheid) leave to walk home. Allyson’s other friend Vicki (Virginia Gardner) is babysitting young Julian (Jibrail Nantambu) on Halloween, and invites her boyfriend Dave (Miles Robbins) over. Julian thinks he sees someone in his room and when Vicki goes to investigate Michael kills her.
Officer Hawkins (Will Patton), who’s been following the trail of carnage Michael has left since escaping, finds Vicki and Dave both dead. He runs into Laurie, who has heard a report on the police scanner and showed up to kill Michael. She decides to grab Karen and her family and take them to her house for protection. Hawkins and Dr. Sartain, who is curious about why Michael does what he does, go to look for Allyson. They find her a few blocks away running from Michael, who has killed Oscar. Hawkins runs over the killer in his police truck, but when he gets out to investigate, Sartain jumps him and stabs him with a concealed knife. Sartain picks up the unconscious Michael and puts him in back with Allyson, heading to Laurie’s house so that the two of them can “work this out.”
Michael comes back to life killing the deranged doctor. Allyson escapes and makes it on foot to her grandmother’s house. Michael makes it as well, killing Karen’s husband Ray (Toby Huss). Laurie begins setting up her defenses as Michael breaks through the door. Karen and Allyson hide in a hidden basement, while Laurie leads Michael on a chase through the upstairs, before being thrown out a window. Karen defends herself from Michael’s attempt to breach the basement, relying on the training her mother gave her as a young girl. Laurie returns and the three women trap the serial killer in the basement and light the house on fire. A final shot of the burning basement shows no sign of the monstrous Michael.
“The world is not a dark and evil place. It is full of love and understanding, and I’m not letting your psychotic rants confuse me or convince me otherwise.” – Karen Strode
The 2018 version of Halloween is an interesting sort of anomaly in the annals of horror films. Modern film franchises, horror notwithstanding, seem to have one main tact: create sequels (or prequels) that continue the adventures (or explain their origins) hoping to capture fan imagination and make lots of money! And then, once that marketing avenue is exhausted, reboot the franchise to a new audience and start the whole thing over again. Halloween does neither of these things, but comes from a franchise guilty of both.
The franchise started with the original Halloween, directed by John Carpenter in 1978. From there 8 other films branched off in the continuity based on the original to from one degree or another. A direct sequel, Halloween II (1981) followed almost immediately. The continuity of those first two films continued in 1988 with Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, followed by Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) and Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995). Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) was a one-off film meant to capitalize on the franchise name, and potentially set up a series of spooky stories under the Halloween banner. It was ill-received but has become somewhat of a cult-favorite amongst horror fans. Another thread of continuity followed from Halloween II, re-starting the story with Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) and Halloween: Resurrection (2002). The series was then rebooted by director Rob Zombie in 2007 with a fresh take on the source material, also called Halloween, and the sequel Halloween II, two years later in 2009. The 2018 entry (the 11th film in the franchise for those keeping track) makes a bold choice to ignore 39 years of potential continuity and make a direct sequel to Carpenter’s 1978 film.
I am only aware of one other film doing something like this, which is the 2009 version of Friday the 13th. That film, which appears to be a reboot at face value, actually uses the plot threads of the original 1980 film as backstory/history for a modern day version of Jason returning. It too ignores the voluminous continuity from Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) through Jason X (2002), and decides to start mostly fresh. It’s a move that actually makes sense and can draw more people into the film, knowing that really they only need to watch one film before watching the new one.
David Gordon Green’s Halloween follows the same process, with the killings by Michael Myers and his capture having happened 40 years previous (the difference in real-world time between Carpenter’s Halloween and this version). But the newest Halloween also does something interesting that a film series like Friday the 13th could not do, and that’s reverse the roles of the protagonist and the antagonist. From the beginning of the film, Green uses shots and staging to place Laurie in similar poses and setup that Michael was shown in 40 years ago. It starts with her lone image watching her granddaughter at school. Later during the fight through her house, Laurie is put in the role of the antagonist hunting for Michael in a closet, just as she was hunted in the original film. In fact, the film makes a good argument –psychologically speaking– that Laurie is no better than Michael. She actively seeks him out in a single-minded mania in order to end his time in this world. How different is that from how he, as a killer, is motivated? An interesting take on the characters for sure. Laurie is also making her own offspring (Karen and, now Allyson) complicit in the hunt. Potentially the makings of a murder cult, as suggested by the final shot of the ladies in the house standing over the burning body of Michael. Allyson is seen clutching a bloody knife in much the same manner as Michael is seen holding it.
Make no mistake however, Michael is not an innocent parolee from the local prison system being hunted by vengeful women. He’s still a walking, silent killing machine leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. It’s mentioned that he had five people he had killed previously (in the original film), and I counted at least 15 people killed by him in this film, including two young boys – a first for the entirety of the series. His actions beget his ending, having just messed with the wrong people. And whether you as a viewer subscribe to the pop-psychology route that he was unloved as a child and became a killer for deep-rooted Freudian reason, or that he is a person possessed by some creature called “The Shape,” his violent actions are answered by the strong reactions of the Strodes, who give as good as they get.
While it may appear as the female trio was successful in vanquishing Michael to Hell at the end of the film (the flaming basement being a metaphorical stand-in for the eternal fires of damnation), sharp-eyed viewers will notice that a subsequent shot of the flaming cellar shows no sign of Michael. The credits also feature his breathing, as if it were any surprise that he survived. As of October 2019 the sequels for this film, Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends are being shot back-to-back for a 2020 and 2021 release date. So we truly have not yet seen the last of Michael Myers.
Thanks for reading this and any of my other 31 Days of Horror posts I’ve made over the last month. I hope you’ve enjoyed the scares, and analysis, as much as I have. Please continue to join me every Saturday for my Sci-Fi Saturdays articles, where I explore iconic, fun, and genre-defining science-fiction films from 1950 to the present. Until next October, pleasant…screams!
- A co-screenwriter on this project is Danny McBride, the same one from Tropic Thunder, Pineapple Express and Eastbound & Down.
- Halloween (2018), while only taking the 1978 version into its continuity, also pays homage to most of the other films in the series is subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, ways.
- Halloween – Julian’s bedroom has a rotating lamp depicting a clown with a knife.
- Halloween II – When Michael walks amongst the trick or treaters, two children bump into him. One boy is holding a boombox in an homage to a scene in this film.
- Halloween III – Some of the children trick or treating are wearing the Silver Shamrock brand Jack O’Lantern, Skeleton, and Witch masks from this film.
- Halloween 4 – The gas station set where Aaron and Dana are killed is a replica of the gas station from this film.
- Halloween 5 – Two cops being killed offscreen in a car.
- Halloween H2O – A character has an encounter with Michael in a restroom.
- Halloween: Resurrection – Michael is burned alive.
- Halloween (2007) – Michael is seen in a psychiatric facility.
- Halloween II (2009) – Michael kills a character by stomping on him, as with Dr. Sartain here.
Having grown up on comics, television and film, “Jovial” Jay feels destined to host podcasts and write blogs related to the union of these nerdy pursuits. Among his other pursuits he administrates and edits stories at the two largest Star Wars fan sites on the ‘net (Rebelscum.com, TheForce.net), and co-hosts the Jedi Journals podcast over at the ForceCast network.