The current trend in toxic fandom is to hold certain films and media as precious, and think it’s blasphemy to consider reimagining them. While I understand, but do not share, this territorial ownership on a childlike, emotional level, the attitude can rob us of innovation and artistic development. The new Halloween makes its own firm stand on the topic.
Ignoring all of the sequels coming after the 1978 classic, 2018’s Halloween takes place in the present day, 40 years after Michael Myers’ bloody rampage. Myers (James Jude Courtney, though OG “The Shape” Nick Castle steps back into the mask for one scene) is being held far away from human interaction, and because of that Haddonfield has returned to being the quaint Illinois town it was before the attacks. Just about everything appears to be normal, aside from Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis).
Laurie’s character is the heart of the film, and a logical progression from the version we saw in 1978. Judging from the horrendously incompetent Dr. Loomis, Haddonfield was severely lacking a good field of psychologists back in the 1970s, and Laurie’s current state of trauma reflects that. As Curtis told the audience at the film’s U.S. premiere at Fantastic Fest last month, Laurie probably had to go back to school on November 1st. She was forever labeled a victim, and had none of her friends to support her through this stage of her recovery, because Myers killed them all. Halloween is absolutely from the perspective of a woman’s psychological battle with survival in this world.
Laurie’s proclivities to survivalism and protection overshadow her relationships with everyone around her, but especially her relationship to her daughter (Judy Greer). She cannot function normally in society, and in turn her daughter doesn’t understand how to relate to her. When Myers escapes (because of course he does), Laurie’s dreams and nightmares of revenge all become possible realities, and she’s ready.
The undercurrent of female trauma is palpable throughout Halloween, but it never impedes the fact that the movie is a bloodthirsty slasher, and Myers is back to his true form. He stalks his prey with little care for human life. The film maintains the most terrifying aspect of Myers as a movie monster: he’s human. He’s not superpowered, or somehow from a different realm. He’s just a guy in a suit, and this core void of humanity scares the living daylights out of us.
Director David Gordon Green might have a background in stoner comedies, but Halloween is an unabashed horror film. The camera follows Myers around Haddonfield, just as he stalks his own victims. The voyeurism we first saw in 1978 is returned to the screen again here, and its real-time tension builds to terrifying crescendos. As the inevitable faceoff between Laurie and Myers draws nearer, the air between them becomes stifling. Also, considering the fact that we’ve already seen both characters killed on screen in other Halloween films, either one could be the victor.
The 2018 Halloween is a worthy entry into the often wavering franchise. It enhances the characters of both Michael Myers and Laurie Strode, and adds to the mythology of The Shape, rather than detracting from them. Horror purists should welcome it with open arms, and get used to seeing their beloved films refreshed from time to time. It doesn’t hurt, I swear.