Pick up a pumpkin, grab your best butchers knife from the kitchen drawer and lock the door because Halloween is in cinemas and that means only one thing, Michael Myers is back.
Set forty years after the original film, Halloween (2018) takes us back to Haddonfield a sleepy little town that’s terrorised once again by the unstoppable evil force that is Michael Myers.
Unfortunately for Michael though, killing teenagers isn’t as easy as it once was because Laurie Strode – the one victim who got away last time – has spent the last four decades praying for Myers to escape so she can put an end to the pasty-faced menace.
When it was first announced that work had begun on a new Halloween film I have to admit I was more nervous than a babysitter sat in the dark who’s heard noises coming from the basement.
Halloween (1978) has always been one of my favourite films but the sequels have been of varying quality, should we say, and I didn’t want the franchise further tarnished.
These fears were slightly allayed when the film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival to mostly positive reviews, but like a horny teenager trying to get away from a lunatic with a knife I couldn’t escape my fears.
So I’m delighted to say that after forty years of waiting we’ve finally got another great Halloween film which captures the spirit of the original with a few new tricks and old treats thrown in for along the way.
In terms of the way Halloween (2018) looks, it’s clear that director David Gordon Green, the cinematographer Michael Simmonds are huge fans of the original film.
This new movie not only looks like John Carpenter’s 1978 classic but feels like it as well, like we the audience have simply been hibernating, like Michael himself, waiting for the carnage to begin.
More than that the film’s writers, Jeff Fradley, Danny McBride and David Gordon Green have taken a sharp knife to the grand canon of the Halloween series, cutting out the bits which didn’t work to create a new distinct timeline which ignores every film aside from the original.
This works to the film’s benefit as it jettisons some of the clunkier story beats, most notably they remove Laurie being Michael’s secret sister and all the supernatural elements which robbed the character of his mystique.
Throughout the film are also a number of easter eggs and references, to everything from Halloween III: Season of the Witch to Halloween: Resurrection, for fans of the series including one which gave me shivers it was so well executed.
Thankfully these winks and nods never become overbearing or outstay their welcome, and I don’t think the movie relied on them too much.
For me, though Halloween (2018) was at its strongest when it used the characters of Laurie and Michael to examine the notion of prey and predator as well as the banality of evil.
Through the film, we’re confronted with the idea that Michael’s actions are those of a predator and Laurie is his prey, but as the film goes on the pair’s relationship is slowly turned on its head.
More so it becomes clear that the notion Michael is ‘a predator’ is one that everyone projects on to him to rationalise what he does and that whatever motivates him is something we cannot comprehend.
To paraphrase Doctor Loomis, Michael is purely and simply evil, there is nothing going on below the surface. He simply kills because that’s what he wants to do.
Whether he’s driven by something supernatural, or there are more mundane reasons for his massacres, we never find out because it’s not important and that’s what makes the film so scary.
It also works to reinforce John Carpenters’ original intent with the character, that like evil itself Michael is inscrutable and normal people will never understand him no matter how hard they try.
Interestingly the replacement Doctor Loomis character, Dr Sartain, played by Maluk Bilginer, serves as the audience substitute in this regard desperately hoping Michael will reveal his secrets in the end.
If Halloween (2018) has any weaknesses it’s only that it’s a sequel to one of the best horror films ever made and the one that defined all the tricks and tropes of the genre.
This means that as great as it is, and it is a superb film, it can’t help but feel like a bit of a retread of the 1978 original, especially in the first two acts.
Thankfully things do eventually diverge in the final third of the film, unfortunately, they take a fair amount of material from Halloween H20, most notably the idea of turning the tables on Michael Myers.
Again these aren’t necessarily bad things, both Halloween and H20 are probably the best two films to crib notes from, but I wish the filmmakers had been a little more original with their story.
All in all, though Halloween (2018) is still a wonderfully entertaining and frightening film that more than lives up to its predecessor and may just prove we’re living in a golden age of horror.
Halloween (2018) is in cinemas now!