The original 1978 Halloween is unquestionably a masterpiece. Watching it again, it has aged badly in a lot of spots, with some wooden acting and some “totally” atrocious dialogue. It’s deliberately slow paced, a bit clunky here and there, but with some fantastic camera work and the rock-solid tension, it holds up. Hardly a drop of blood on screen to try and scare the audience, purely the suspense for which John Carpenter was so well known.
The film was followed by eight sequels of varying quality. Really quick, Halloween 2 was okay, 3 is incredibly underrated, 4 is passable, 5 is bad, 6 is worse, 7 is mediocre, 8 is bad. Then came the 2008 remake and its sequel, okay and awful respectively. This new film feels like a mix between the original, 7, and the first of the remakes.
I enjoyed this recent film overall. The film wipes the slate clean by openly stating that everything past the original film never happened, but it still makes a lot of nods and references for the fans. As someone who’s seen the entire franchise multiple times, I appreciated these, but I feel that an audience going into this film blind will be lost, especially considering the title. This is now the third film in this franchise to bare this name, which just makes it look like another remake. See also The Thing (1982) and The Thing (2011).
The film is less concerned about suspense as it is about brutality and gore. I have nothing against this as a means of instilling horror in your audience, one of my favourite movies if Martyrs (2008) for God’s sake, but it feels less in keeping with the original. I guess it’s trying to update Michael Myers to current audience sensibilities, but it does seem a bit much. Definitely not for the squeamish. Incidentally, Michael is still able to break through walls and stomp heads flat with relative ease despite being in his early-60s at this point.
Outside of Laurie Strode, played for the fifth time by Jamie Lee Curtis, none of the characters are particularly interesting. Fairly bland slasher fodder, but fun none the less. Certainly, nobody you actively want to see get impaled or beaten to death, but nobody is given enough time to develop. Most characters are given no more than a single scene before they’re snuffed. You get the sense that they could’ve been more if the film had taken its time.
That’s honestly my biggest issue, the pacing. The original film has that fantastic opening scene, then about 40-minutes of nothing much happening, followed by the last act of just pure suspense and adrenaline. This film has Michael killing people within 20-minutes, and it never really stops. Perhaps it’s what audiences want, but I’m personally more a fan of ‘slow-burn’ horror.
You really do have to see at least the original to get the most out of this film. I think that’ll be something of a hindrance to its success with audiences. The original is very slow-paced and, as stated, has aged poorly in some aspects. At the risk of sounding like an ageist idiot, I just can’t see many people having the patience for it nowadays. Seeing this film with a friend, I sat him down to watch the original beforehand, he more or less admitted that he probably wouldn’t have made it through the original if I wasn’t there to force him. I feel this will be a lot of people’s reaction to the original these days, probably switching off within 15-minutes. Feel free to prove me wrong on this, obviously.
Overall: One for the fans. You won’t enjoy this film to the fullest unless you’ve seen at least the original. If you’re a fan of the original, or the franchise as a whole, this is probably the best Myers based sequel. That’s not saying much, but it’s better than nothing. An enjoyable gore fest, a satisfying sequel, and a better way to end the franchise than Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2. Go see it, but please watch the original first.
Halloween (1978) – Highest recommendation.
Halloween (2018) – Recommended for the fans.
[Originally published October 20th, 2018]