Monday, May 20, 2024

Halloween is the Near Perfect Sequel We’ve Been Waiting for

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The 1970s called and they want their movie back. In this case we’re totally not giving it back. The Halloween series has been long enduring since 1978, when the masterpiece original was first released in theaters. As the years went by we were treated to numerous sequels; some were good and some weren’t. Yet, no matter how good some of them were, the initial impact which the original had brought upon even the most difficult to frighten was never replicated. Many fans will agree that this had in part to do with the writers trying to give an explanation to Michael Meyers’s murderous insanity. They’ll also agree that the lack of motivation and unreasonable obsession with a single teenage babysitter is what made The Shape so terrifying in the first place. Though of course that really creepy heavy breathing behind the mask had the same effect.

I was slightly skeptical of two things I knew going into this movie. The first being the fact that they were ignoring the sequels. Now the community is divided among this one as some people loved them and some didn’t or you have people like me who loved most of them. Either way that’s a lot of horror history being thrown away, like the characterization of Dr. Loomis’ obsession with seeing Michael as pure evil and the heavy reveal that Laurie Strode was actually Michael Myers sister. In the new film, the latter story was scraped altogether and treated as weird controversy with Allyson, Laurie’s Granddaughter, and her friends. I can see this as an attempt to undo the impact of that revelation and what made it simply effective was that it was treated as just a passing thought.

The second concern didn’t have as much of an influence on my reception towards the movie, as it’s not something entirely new. Helming the project with John Carpenter’s blessing were two men known more for their roles in the comedy world, David Gordon Green and Danny Mcbride, who are known for their raunchy and stoner comedies such as Pineapple Express and Your Highness. Yet as I said, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a genre shifting change like this. With the commercial success of Jordan Peele’s Get Out, it was only a matter of time until we saw some more moves from one genre of filmmaking to another. I have to say early on that I was incredibly impressed not only with the way the team handled Halloween with as much love for the original as they could muster. From the appearance of locations taken directly from the 1978 classic to the multitude of easter eggs littered throughout the film, it’s clear that the makers not only loved the John Carpenter and Debra Hill classic but also intended to treat the film with as much love as possible.

Now getting into it, at first glance this film seemed like it was about people just making completely terrible life choices. This is mostly true for the reporters who seemed more interested in getting some sort of violent reaction from a now forty year catatonic Michael Myers. Of course, showing him the mask woke the obsession back in him and he quickly escapes en route to a new prison where he would spend the rest of his days. Michael himself is played by his original veteran actor, Nick Castle, making him one of the only actors to reprise his role other than Jamie Lee Curtis.

Like the original, Michael’s presence relies on his stalker motif and overall emotionless demeanor. Though this time around he’s much more volatile in his actual kill scenes that’s slightly reminiscent to the critically panned Rob Zombie remake. However, the way it’s done in this film is both stylish, brutal, and fun. Whereas the body count in the original film was five, not including Judith Myers, the new one cleared over a dozen deaths. From visceral beatings, jaws being ripped off, stabbings, and even a poor old lady being brutalized for a kitchen knife. Halloween does not let up with the violent killings, which let’s be honest; it’s what we’re all here to see. Michael has waited forty years to escape and this time around it’s not just a couple of babysitters who will litter his path of horror.

Amateur journalists making terrible decisions aside, it’s clear that anyone and anything associated with Michael in this film exhibits the same kind of obsession. Laurie Strode is of course the first thought. Since the first film she’s been through hell trying to make a life for herself after the massacre of her friends. Told both from others perception of her mental state, history, and actions in the film itself it’s clear she has become just as obsessed with Michael as he is with her. While her obvious post traumatic stress doesn’t manifest itself in the form of alcoholism like in H20, the manic obsession is still there. Let’s be real though, who wouldn’t expect someone to act like this after what they witnessed? Especially when given no explanation as to why you were targeted, considering as mentioned before, the whole “Laurie being Michael’s sister” revelation was done away with. While those who watched the trailer surely were amazed by Jamie Lee Curtis’ new badass facade, in reality this is actually just the face of her trauma and the real toll that Michael Myers exacted on her life.

My least favorite part of the film was Dr. Ranbir Sartain, the man responsible for taking charge of Michael Myers care after Dr. Loomis had passed away. Unlike his mentor he does not exhibit the same obsessive view of the Michael being pure evil. Instead he focuses his fixation towards unleashing Michael to study him in a new environment and free from his catatonic state. Midway through the movie we find out that Myer’s escape was orchestrated by him. In an almost Frankenstein dilemma I struggled with this question. If you take Michael Myers as a force of nature, his nature being to kill, who is truly the monster in that instance? Though slightly diluted by mediocre writing, by the end of the film it became the least memorable event of the film and stuck out to me as a cheap way to almost have someone else take the spotlight. Alas, nothing is perfect.

The film was definitely and adrenaline filled kill fest that both veteran fans of the series and new comers can enjoy. While not a completely perfect movie. It’s still a damn fine entry into a series known for some very questionable sequels. It adds its own mark on the film and genre alone that’s filled with visceral violence, modernization, good humor, and respect to it’s origins. If you haven’t seen Halloween yet, do so before the season ends. Nothing will get you into the spirit of the holiday like a solid Halloween movie.


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