Halloween (2018) Review

Forty years ago, on Halloween night, Michael Myers (Nick Castle) stalked and killed the residents of Haddonfield, Illinois. Now he’s back with a vengeance to kill Laurie Strode (the scream queen herself, Jamie Lee Curtis) and family in an all new franchise reboot by Blumhouse Productions.

John Carpenter’s classic slasher flick remains an iconic cultural piece of history and is often regarded as among the best horror films of all time. I make it a tradition to watch the original twice every Halloween, and I consider it one of my favorites.

There have been countless sequels, remakes, rewrites, and reboots. Yet, this is the first time there’s been so much hype revolving around a Halloween movie. Despite the hype and raving reviews, I’m not quite sure the magic transferred over here.

Too much of Halloween mimics past films within the franchise. Kills, plot points, and major scenes are completely ripped from the original Halloween, Halloween II, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween H20, and even the Rob Zombie remake. Having so much potential to succeed and a wide-open platform to speak on, Halloween made little effort to differentiate itself from any sequel in the series. If you were to blend up some of the best and worst aspects of all these movies and put it into one modern film, it would be Halloween 2018.

Some of the dialogue and sound effects were awkward and frankly dead on arrival. All the humor was misplaced and didn’t make sense in the context of what was happening on-screen. The jokes got occasional laughs from the audience, but I don’t believe anyone will be highlighting the quality of the humor as a selling point.

No, we’re more concerned with the gore, a staple of the slasher genre. And as sad as it is to say, it wasn’t as graphic as one would hope. Now the original film could hardly be called graphic by today’s standards, but at least most of the kills were on-screen. I swear only half the kills in this movie even take place on-screen, with many characters shown to already be dead. Some are murdered slightly off-screen, as if to tease us. Strangely, this directly contrasts with several incredibly gruesome death scenes, including a gory head smash that we see every bit of. It was as if the filmmakers couldn’t decide if Halloween should be PG-13 or R, so they just met in the middle.

There’s a nice long tracking shot of Michael Myers as he goes from house to house slaying victims, getting adjusted to murder once more. It’s very cinematic, and the visuals within the sequence are filled with a nostalgic, spooky atmosphere. Festive decorations, pumpkins, and costumes line the streets that Myers haunts, and I loved every bit of it.

The main event, if you will, of Halloween is the showdown between Laurie Strode and Michael Myers. In a sense it becomes a classic game of cat and mouse, with the odds not always in Myers’ favor. This was hands down the best part of the film, the moment everyone was waiting for. And did it deliver? Yes, yes it did. We’re given a satisfying, tense, and kick butt conclusion to one big shoulder shrug of a movie.

If you wanted a Halloween movie that looks, feels, and plays out exactly like previous installations, then this is the film for you. Just like many Blumhouse films, the Halloween remake plays it safe in the most frustrating and painstaking ways. The unoriginality negatively impacted many key death scenes, as I could accurately predict almost every twist and turn just off prior movie knowledge. Even disregarding the rest of the series, this new Halloween was just lacking in the spooky department. It’s Halloween, I’m entitled to one good scare, and this just didn’t fully do it for me.

The Verdict: C

-Zachary Flint

Halloween (1978) Review

Over time, Halloween has become an iconic film of the horror genre. It is often cited as popularizing the slasher film and creating many horror movie tropes we continue to see used today.

Directed by John Carpenter, Halloween was made on a relatively small budget of about 300,000 dollars, while making over 70 million in the box office. Proving just how financially successful independent, low budget films good be.

Halloween tells the story of an escaped psychopath named Michael Myers. Myers, whose been locked up since he was a child for killing his sister Judith (Sandy Johnson), has now broken out of his mental ward and is returning to his home in Haddonfield, Illinois. There he stalks 17 year old Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) who is babysitting on Halloween night. The only one who may be able to stop Myers’s terror is Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance), Michael’s psychiatrist from when he was a boy.

I know a lot of people don’t find this film very frightening by today’s standards, but I think that has more to do with how society views horror. Modern day horror flicks are plagued by pop-up jump scares that are paired with loud sounds. No longer is it about building up tension, but rather just have the film go silent, followed by a loud noise that makes the audience jump. Making them think that they were scared. Very few modern horror directors (like James Wan) pull off the jump scare in a clever and unique way.

I don’t believe Halloween has got any less scary over time. The subtle horror aspects infused with the sharp musical score (written by John Carpenter himself) make this film what it is. The very simple but effective music adds to the tension that builds from Myers stalking various people. The music will spike as you can see Myers standing in the background, surrounded by the darkness. Very creepy.

One of the biggest reasons I love Halloween is how the film was shot. Being on a low budget gives Halloween this sort of gritty look to it. It all feels very practical and real. The tracking shots that John Carpenter uses when the camera slowly moves between houses really builds up tension in a way I haven’t seen before. At least, not done as well. He utilizes simple but creative camera shots to give the point of view of Michael Myers, as the audience hears his deep breathing through the mask.

Michael Myers symbolizes pure evil, and the fact that he can get up after being repeatedly stabbed and shot gives him this “indestructible force” aspect. As if he isn’t even a human and more like an entity.

The climatic scene when Laurie makes her way into the neighbor’s house when the audience knows Micheal Myers is already inside still scares me to this day. The horrors that ensue are well done and effective. Many other films have taken inspiration from these iconic scenes between Laurie and Michael, who acted and performed very well. Again, the gritty way Halloween was shot really adds to the experience.

Finally, the ambiguous note the film ends on suits it nicely and I wouldn’t have wanted it to end any other way.

I recommend Halloween to all who have an appreciation for horror. It is a horror movie classic that will continue to be a staple of the genre for many years to come.

Zachary Flint