December 4, 2020

Halloween: A Reboot Done Right

At this point in 2018, reboots of formerly successful movie franchises are as common as pumpkin spiced lattes and flannel shirts. It is quite rare, though, for a new installment to both honor the original property and introduce a fresh storyline. The latest film in the Halloween franchise does more than that, and the record box office weekend confirms it.

Too many movies attempt to put a new spin on classics and end up flopping and, often, even hurting the overall perception of the franchise. This is what had plagued the Halloween franchise running all the way back to Halloween II‘s release in 1981. Now, some viewers, like myself, have enjoyed most of the films in the franchise, but to say that they all do the original movie justice is certainly a stretch. It was just 11 years ago that Rob Zombie released his own adaptation on the Michael Myers story, followed by an equally painful-to-watch sequel in 2009. But this new production is different, as the directors and executive producers have made clear that this film is set to erase everything but the first Halloween film released in 1978.

*The following review contains spoilers, if you have not seen Halloween yet do not read further.*

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Halloween opens by putting us back into Haddonfield, Illinois, where we find Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode living her best life (not really). Laurie is obviously psychologically damaged, even 40 years after the night Michael Myers escaped and killed her friends. She’s living in a remote home outside of Haddonfield, fully stocked with a shooting range full of creepy mannequins to shoot, excessively large industrial lighting on her roof, and a security system fit for The Purge. To be honest, I think this is how most of us would live if we had survived the babysitter murders. Laurie has pushed away her daughter and granddaughter as a result of her living in constant fear. It has definitely taken an emotional toll on the family, to say the least.

Laurie’s daughter Karen, played brilliantly by Judy Greer, resents the way Laurie raised her to be afraid of everything and to not trust anyone. The granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak) is still open to a relationship with Laurie, and this creates tension resulting in Laurie storming out from a family dinner. Conveniently, this is the same night that Michael Myers is to be transferred from Smiths Grove to a more secure hospital where he will be locked away for the rest of his life. Predictably, the transfer does not go as planned, and Michael’s new psychiatrist, the “new Loomis” as dubbed by Laurie, is likely to blame.

After some satisfying deaths, Michael moves in on one of Allyson’s friends, Vicky, as she babysits a little boy in town. (The kid is hilarious and one of the best parts of this movie). In a clear callback to the 1978 film, the boy, Julian, is nagging his babysitter about seeing the boogeyman outside of his room. So Vicky checks his room only to find Michael Myers hanging out in the closet. Michael swings at her and the camera cuts to Julian, who lets out an “Oh shit!” and sprints down the stairs and out of the house to safety. Seriously, this kid was the smartest character I’ve ever seen in a horror movie. He did exactly what any rational person would do. His inclusion into the script felt like a nod to horror fans who have maligned the incredibly dumb decision-making by most characters in scary movies.

Some chase scenes and a terrifying interaction where Allyson is trapped in the backseat of the Sheriff’s car with Michael later, we end up with the showdown that had been foreshadowed throughout the movie. Michael shows up at Laurie’s house after killing two cops and makes quick work of Karen’s imbecile husband in the front yard. Laurie’s security system is perfect (until it isn’t), and Michael gets into the house somehow. Laurie hides Karen in the basement safe room and searches the house for Michael. This gives us one of the best scenes in the movie, where Laurie is pushed out of the window by Michael and we see her laying in the yard. Something pulls Michael away from the window for a moment, and he looks back down to find that Laurie has disappeared.

Michael figures out that Karen and now Allyson are in the hidden room in the basement, and he rips the island in the kitchen out of the ground because he knew (of course) that was the way to get to them. Karen calls out for Laurie and pretends to break down , saying, “I can’t do it” as she holds a gun to the opening. Michael appears and she drops the act with a bad ass “got you” and shoots Michael in the neck. Michael falls down the stairs into the safe room and Allyson and Karen scurry up the stairs over him, Michael grabs Karen’s leg, but she is able to wriggle away.

Laurie is back to help the girls and springs one last trap for Michael, locking him in the basement. She’s been preparing for this fight her entire life. We see her turn on gas lines that run throughout the house, and she tosses a flare into the basement to start the fire. The girls leave the house and we see Michael standing in the basement surrounded by fire. He’s definitely going to die this time, right? Probably not. The last shot of the movie zooms in on Laurie’s granddaughter, Allyson, holding the knife she used to stab Michael earlier in the fight scene. Perhaps foreshadowing a return in the sequel to the freaky telepathy from Halloween 4 and Halloween 5.

Anyone that loves the original Halloween films is going to enjoy this one. While they retconned every movie after the 1978 original, you can still find callbacks to some of those throughout. Some may feel that the movie is predictable at times, but,as a continuation of the Halloween franchise, that is pretty much par for the course. This movie will be polarizing to some, except for those that are looking for an unpredictable, wild ride. If you go in with the appropriate expectations, however, you will love the experience.

84/100

Chaplin
Tyler Gross
Tyler Gross 5 Articles
Former Staff Writer

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