I’m going to soon be seeing the new Halloween Kills, so I thought it would be proper to finally write a review of the predecessor. I saw this film when it was released, but, well, there’s a bit of a reason why it’s taken me this long to review.
Honestly, the Halloween franchise has tripped over itself so many times it is all now more like a choose-your-own-reality dimensional split. The newest dimension is a direct sequel to the original from four decades past. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, who else? I mean, other than Scout Taylor Compton) has been so traumatized from surviving the onslaught of Michael Myers that she’s trained herself to be ready for him to come back. He was somehow captured and been in prison all these years in this dimension, but until Myers is dead as well as any possibilities of demonic children, he’s still behind that door, in that closet, on the other side of that house. Laurie now has a daughter Karen (Judy Greer) who’d been put through the same relentless training before the state forcibly took her away, and a granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichek).
You’d think at first glance the town of Haddonfield, Illinois just wouldn’t be in a Halloween spirit anymore, but 40 years of inactivity can make you forget that fear and treat history as a one-time event. Plus, since this is a big clean slate of a reboot, we know the only survivor of the true wrath of Michael Myers alive today is Laurie. It’s now more of a fun thing to remember for most. But when Myers ends up set to be transferred to a different prison, he somehow gets loose, and it’s inhuman to not revel in freedom and return to the scene of the crime that put you in prison just after escaping, but Michael Myers is not human, plain and simple. With the return of Myers but with a Laurie ready for him, there’s going to be more tricks than treats taking place this year.
I’m just beginning to type this out, and I know my review’s going to be relatively short. You know the funniest thing? This was the first Halloween movie I’ve seen in the franchise. I saw the original afterward and rewarded it a B+. Even considering the 1978 first feature was a door opener to more slasher films, I still felt it was a movie scary and creepy enough to stand out even today. And considering some of the horrors (and not the good kind) of the last times people tried to capitalize on the legendary original, I seriously doubt they would get a grade higher than this film if I saw them. But what ultimately led me to a negative grade for the first critically well-received Halloween in 40 years was how conventional it was.
I’d heard of the plot of the first Halloween, and this one seemed to be Michael Myers attacking more unaware citizens and just always successfully killing them. Well, killing the unimportant ones anyway. Predictably. Even before the movie was over, I lost count of how many unsuspecting people Myers bludgeoned or stabbed, not because there were so many, but because I just didn’t care and was waiting for what we were truly anticipating. The reason I lost interest was it became evident the characters who were set up as major were going to at least fight to survive and the ones who were set up as minor weren’t going to survive.
There’s a doctor in this movie who is so fascinated with Myers he doesn’t care about his own safety when wanting to analyze him, leading to many eye rolls as we pity where his stupidity will take him.
The climax of the movie is by far the best point. It’s really all that stuck with me. Laurie’s house full of booby traps, secret passageways, and doorway bars are not only fun but smart of Laurie to put in and follows logic of Michael’s killing style. There’s a masterful bedroom scene of looking for Michael in the pitch black with an overly bright firearm flashlight, with nods to the original without coming across as too back-patting. A trick done by Karen is sly in its self-awareness, knowing what makes us angry and then twisting it up. The last 20 minutes are flat-out awesome in horror filmmaking.
My main point is, this first chapter in the new Halloween saga may be a well-shot film with well-acted deaths, but the first 75% of the movie went through the motions too noticeably. Like I said, I haven’t seen Halloween Kills yet, and if this first Halloween had to go the conventional route for this promised trilogy, hopefully the next two will make up for it, now that the, no pun intended, mask is off. In one way at least.