Back in 2018, the writing team of Jeff Fradley, Danny McBride & David Gordon Green did the unthinkable and brought Michael Myers back to life and stalked the big screens once again.
With a strong focus on the long lasting effects that trauma has on us all and who better to champion this cause than ultimate survivor, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis – who turned out a phenomenal performance in that role).
Fans both old and new alike were lapping up this brutal the on a 40 year old franchise, so it was inevitable that further two movies would arise. However…
People (myself included) felt let down by the directorial path that was chosen. Halloween Kills felt like a fluff piece, a filler if you will to bring about the conclusion and along with it the end to the franchise??
Despite this, there were some faithful to the resurrection (ooh, bad choice of word. I’m still having my own trauma counselling over that movie :p) and were keen to see how the trilogy would play out. Again I would include myself in those who waited with anticipation.
But before we get to my thoughts on this, let’s view the trilogy through the trauma lens and the five stages of grief, as I personally find that this ties in with the central theme and our understanding of the creative mindset.
Halloween (2018) would set up the premise of trauma and its unshakeable hold on the victims with stage 1 – Denial. Most of the characters are in a state of denial, with the exception of Laurie, who is so immersed in the state that she is on a deeper level and knows that the shape of evil will always be there as long as Michael is alive. This is her mantra and never waivers across the three movies.
Moving into Halloween Kills (2021) and we traverse through stage 2 – Anger with our rising vigilantes and stage 3 – bargaining as those who try to lure Michael to his death end up bargaining with their own.
So, now we come to Halloween Ends (2022) which must then face the final two stages: Depression and Acceptance. The former of the two does not bode well to focus on for the feature but go there it does.
The feature picks up with two of our central survivors Laurie and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) and the remnants of Haddonfield. Among the residents is Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell) a boy who accidentally kills the kid he is babysitting and is forever tarnished among his community. It is here that he is quickly thrust into comparison with Michael, and the new face of evil. As much as Corey struggles to reassert himself, he is further quashed and forced to ask whether he should just concede to his fate.
David Gordon Green continually likes to dabble with the whole nature vs nurture idea and with it starts to lose the kernel of a Halloween franchise movie; namely Myers on a killing rampage. By shifting the core perspective to Corey and away from Myers, the more we question the true heart of the movie. In fact, Myers has been left residing in an abandoned sewer beneath the Haddonfield streets to lick his wounds, like a paltry Pennywise wannabe,
The silver lining of hope comes with Allyson who develops a romantic interest with Corey; a moth to the flame of violence. The other kindled romance is between Laurie and Deputy Frank Hawkins (Will Patton); is there still a chance of happiness for Laurie?
As we build to the films’ climax, the characters must ultimately face acceptance. Do they acknowledge their past, shake off the shackles of accusations and character assassinations, or let trauma (Myers and his myth) win?
You play with fire and you’re gonna get burned.
David Gordon Green and Danny McBride struck gold when they first brought Myers back to our screens and the subject of trauma.
But by continually going back into the frey, the strength of their initial premise wanes. By sidelining Myers in their quest to scrutinise the impact of grief and trauma, they lose the essence of Halloween, With it they have inadvertently killed off the franchise, perhaps forever. Those devoted to Halloween must now go through their own 5 steps of grief but it’s debatable if we will ever reach acceptance.
1. Identify the ideas, themes & executional elements that make the first film great. Or at least good. Or at least worthy of being sequelised.
Part of its appeal alongside the sheer force of The Shape carving his way through Haddonfield once again, juxtaposed by the fragility and strength of Laurie Strode, magnificently portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis, was how the film played to the damaging effects that trauma has on humanity, and how some condition themselves to the impact that this has had on their lives.
Where Halloween 2018 leaned into early stages of trauma through the eyes of the Strode family, who are in complete denial, numbed to the exposure that Laurie’s turmoil has taken, or through the taking on the pain and guilt of surviving such an ordeal, the latest outing needs to take this to the next level, Anger and Bargaining. The only problem with these emotions is that there isn’t a lot on the dial to play with. Each character that embodies these emotions invariably meet their grisly end as a result. Not that this completely squashes the narrative however, as the re-introduced character of Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) who leads a vigilante group on a mission to end evil and kill Myers for good. It certainly shines a light on the consequences that a mob mentality can have when confronting trauma. Brute force against brute force will always lead to ruin where there are no winners.
It’s biggest strength is in its central antagonist, Michael, who never holds back, continuing the theme from the 2018 feature. As it should be. He is and will always be the draw card to the franchise, and I’m glad to say that he never disappoints, arguably his portrayal here is one of the finest in the franchise.
It’s other strength from 2018, is with Jamie Lee Curtis.. Every moment she is on screen, you are willing for her to bring the same exhaustive performance. However, she is subjected to a more minor role, still an important one, as between her and the wounded Deputy Frank Hawkins (Will Patton) provide hope through acceptance, through what will be the final step in moving through a traumatic event.
2. Pay homage and do not violate/ignore said ideas and themes and elements
Here, Green still pays homage to the franchise as a whole, using elements that have played key roles or images that have been instilled from previous films, such as Halloween III: Season of the Witch, with the skeleton, pumpkin, and the witch. The creative team have proven before that they are lovers of the franchise and here is no exception to that rule. So, for this, they continue to immerse the viewer and expand on that sense of nostalgia without causing damage at all.
3. Introduce new/expanded themes, ideas and elements that will NATURALLY ALIGN to your first ideas, themes & elements. As mentioned, the new elements introduced in this movie expand on the themes of trauma, most notably anger. This feels like a natural cause of action following the 2018 feature. The second part of this trajectory is through bargaining, a trait that is mostly seen through Karen (Judy Greer), in many ways the heart of the movie, pleading with her mother Laurie to listen to reason, desperately trying to save the life of the prison inmate, wrongly identified as Michael. This only makes her actions bittersweet in the face of the movie’s climax, a step that needed to be taken in order for the survivors, whoever they may be, to heal.
4. DO NOT rehash the first film and just give people “more of the same”.
This is where the movie starts to fall down a little. While it tries to push the story arc along, it fails to resonate a beat and quicken the pulse at all. It is happy to play with the same kind of energy, but in doing so falls flat and starts to feel like it is a filler movie between Halloween and what will ultimately be Halloween Ends.It struggles to shift outside of this and doesn’t deliver as a result.
5. DO NOT-NOT rehash the first film by giving more of the same…. BUT “BIGGER”.
It could be argued here too that they’ve tried to go bigger, and who could blame them, and in part Michael falls into this category. I would counter this though by saying in the very action of attempting to go bigger, they lose sight of the integral components, and the raw energy captured before. It feels a little flat in its execution and disconnects from the viewer.
6. Be a good enough stand-alone film by itself.
And for its final hurdle in our 6 rules for a great sequel, Halloween Kills stumbles. It fails to be viewed as a stand alone movie as it relies too greatly on its predecessors. It is these movies that allow the feature to stand tall, but take away these crutches, there isn’t a lot left on show.
So, where does that leave things with Halloween Kills? Well, it manages to execute 3 out of 6 rules successfully, which falls in line with my gut reaction. I marked it as a little over average and falls short of the previous movie.
Yes, it’s a filler and it might feel more satisfying once Halloween Ends completes that cycle. Until then, we’re left with a vaguely entertaining movie that tries to satisfy the core fans, some of whom will be content, but others will note the lack of impact that came in 2018.
25 years ago, before Scream would reawaken the horror genre and generate a plethora of like minded movies came a film that tapped wholly into my adolescent brain. I’ll let you decide which part of the brain from which I am referring. Needless to say, Fairuza Balk’s Nancy stirred something inside me that yearned for and connected with females who drifted outside the mainstream of what was considered “normal”.
Recently, The Craftwas given new life in the public eye thanks to its sequel of sorts, The Craft: Legacyreleased by Blumhouse last year, but somehow it failed to ignite the same passion as the original.
Some of this could easily be put down to its strong, young cast with the afore-mentioned Fairuza playing the main antagonist to Robin Tunney’s white witch, Sarah in what is essentially a coming of age teen-drama. Joining these two are also Neve Campbell, Rachel True, Skeet Ulrich, and Christine Taylor, who all essentially lift what comes across as a medicroe tale when reviewed through today’s eyes.
It still however holds a strong place in my heart, despite its flaws and molded my love of 90s teen horror as a result. What can I say, it’s my achilles heel.
It helps that swiftly following TheCraft came the behemoth of Teen Slasher films… Screamdirected by the great, Wes Craven. It also boasted two of the movie’s stars in Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich whose careers were rightfully projected to stardom as a result.
Scream is now the stuff of legend with its meta representation of the horror franchise and again boasted an awesome cast with Courtney Cox, David Arqette, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, Jamie Kennedy and let’s not forget that killer opening sequence with Drew Barrymore. Before the decade was out a sequel would also follow the following year and along with it a franchise and Ghostface’s interchangeable personna was born.
Chief among setting the tone for the decade and the success that followed in Scream’s wake was Dawson’s Creek scribe Kevin Williamson, who managed to tap into the pulse of those of my generation, eager to be understood and have those “deep and meaningful’ relationship discussions.
By 1997, Williamson was just starting to hit his stride with I Know What You Did Last Summerstarring Campbell’s fellow Party of Five alumni Jennifer Love-Hewitt.
Love-Hewitt stars as Julie James, who along with three other school friends (Ryan Philippe, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar, the latter was already on the rise thanks to a certain Buffy role) accidentally run down a stranger on the road and leave him for dead. It’s basically an elongated urban legend with the man with a hook hellbent on revenge. Like Scream it would also generate a franchise with a further two sequels to cash the cow.
Back to the Dawson’s Creek connection and another teen horror, Disturbing Behaviourthat would be released in 1998, the busiest year for the sub-genre, At the time, I more-than jumped on this band-wagon following Katie Holmes’ second feature film. This was a time when I, like Dawson, was undecided about the whole Joey/Jen thing, before realising in my case, that Michelle Williams was always the more interesting person to watch on screen, but more about her in a moment.
Disturbing Behaviour is probably the weakest in this line up of movies, but does boast James Marsden and Nick Stahl in the mix, in a tale of idyllic suburbia with a sour undertone in both its take of the American Dream and repressed teenage sexuality but it does still have the same beats and touches on the same wavelength that was being generated at the time.
Onto Holmes’ counterpart, Michelle Williams, who, again in my opinion, deserves greater praise for the work that she produces each year. In 1998, Williams would be cast in the support role of Molly in one of Horrors biggest franchises, Halloween.
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later would have Kevin Williamson on writing duties, so it’s no wonder that Williams would connect well with the screenplay. Aside from bringing Jamie Lee Curtis back for the first time since Halloween 2 to pit against Michael Myers, it also introduced us to the so fresh and hot right now, Josh Hartnett. Let’s not talk about that hair cut though, for in his other movie that year, The Faculty, he slipped easily into the bad boy, good heart character with a brooding presence. Oh and that guy Kevin Williamson is behind the screenplay again.
When I first watched The Faculty I had a strong negative reaction to it, as I wore my snobbery hat when I watched it and took all the homagees embedded within as rip=offs of the great films that preceded it. I was a huge fan of director Rober Rodriguez at the time, which I think added to my disappointment further.
I have since grown to love this film more though and recognise it for what it was, a love of sci fi horror and again had some great stars in Elijah Wood (pre-LOTR), Jordana Brewster, Clea Duvall (I had such a thing for her too – Apparently I have a type, just ask fellow Surgeon Antony Yee), Laura Harris, Salma Hayek, Famke Janssen, Bebe Neuwirth, Robert Patrick, Shawn Hatosy, Jon Stewart, and Piper Laurie. It definitely warrants repeat viewing and holds up because of the fun energy and bold direction that Rodriuez alway brings to his movies.
Rounding out the quartet of movies for 1998 is Urban Legend which is a little forgotten despite generating a franchise in its own right and another strong cast considering with Alicia Witt, Jared Leto, Tara Reid, Rebecca Gayheart, Michael Rosenbaum, Joshua Jackson (Dawson’s Creek again), Robert Englund, and Danielle Harris into the fold. It captures the urban legend tales of horror well enough but can’t quite shake off the fact that it’s riding on the coattails of stronger movies and suffers a little with age.
My last notable film to mention however lifts the half-decade of teen horror back to higher standards with its clearly tongue in cheek tale, Idle Hands where a stoner, Anton (Devon Sawa currently seen in a cracking film, Hunter Hunter) who discovers his hands are possessed after waking up to find his parents murdered. A cool cast again with Jessica Alba and Seth Green, Idle Hands is great fun to watch and definitely not to be taken seriously.
Sawa would also go on to star in another cracking film at the turn of the next decade in Final Destination as the trend would dial down a little.
For those 5-6 years though, it would produce a number of movies, some to hold high and some probably best forgotten but for nostalgic reasons still resonate with me today. I can only blame Nancy. I should have taken the heed and bound her from harm… harm to others and harm to myself…
100 years ago the Roaring Twenties came into effect with a social and economic boom that pushed the boundaries of experimentation and exploration dubbing it the crazy years.
Cinema has evolved greatly during this time and spawned Robert Miene’s silent horror in German Expressionism, which is still considered a classic among some critics.
While the tides have shifted and the boundaries of what is classified as horror has twisted through the years, moving numerous debates and discussions along the way, we come to a time when originality can be hard to come by, or perhaps the audience has become too critical and our perceptions have changed.
Can the films of today cause a deeper development in the genre that we’ve come to love and like the films that were born a century ago stir the insanity again and break new ground in the process?
Let’s look at what 2020 has in store and see if indeed it will deliver.
This film has led some early reports to compare it to Alien but in the ocean deep instead of the far reaches of space. It does boast Kristen Stewart in the cast who may divide audiences and has been a bit hit and miss of late in her film choices but she is supported in this instance by Vincent Cassel, who is known for choosing experimental films. Does this then mean that this team of underwater researchers will uncover not only a few beasties but also break new ground in the process?
Prediction: Neither sink or swim. A drifter that will entertain some but not cast anything new into the cinematic landscape.
Jan 24 – The Turning
Based on Henry James novel, The Turn of the Screw and produced by Steven Spielberg, it stars Mackenzie Davis (Terminator: Dark Fate) and Finn “Can my hair grow any longer?” Wolfhard (Stranger Things) and bears close scrutiny as director Mike Flanagan (Doctor Sleep) is set to release an interpretation of the novel in Netflix series, The Haunting of Bly Manor, his follow up to the successful The Haunting of Hill House.
Prediction: Director Floria Sigismondi will no doubt bring some artistic visual flair that is evidence from her music videos, but could possibly fall foul of “popcorn syndrome” – Light, fluffy with a bit of crunch and serves the masses, but ultimately has no substance.
Initially I was really excited about this release, being a fan of the Ju On franchise, plus Nicolas Pesce’s work with The Eyes of My Mother, and Piercing. Both movies have pushed the boundaries of comfort and shot in stylistic fashion that I was keen to see where Pesce would take The Grudge. Early reports haven’t been favourable however, so it could be another disappointment in the first month of the new decade.
Prediction: Could be another franchise instalment too many. The name alone will pull in the numbers, yet may not hit the mark on the scare front.
Jan 31 – Gretel and Hansel
It’s been over 200 years since The Brothers Grimm fashioned the fairy tale about a cannibalistic witch that kidnaps two children roaming in the woods. The fact that it is still resonates today is a testament to the strength of the storytelling and it will be interesting to see the story told from the perspective of Gretel played by Sophia Lillis (IT) who has already proved compelling as the young Beverly Marsh.
Prediction: Better than your average fair without necessarily offering anything new or compelling with the horror genre.
Some may argue its place in this list, but it is billed as a psychological horror and director Robert Eggers has already made a name for himself in the artistic expressionism world within the genre with his debut feature, The VVitch, a film that also divided audiences. American audiences have already seen the movie too as it was released there last year, but as yet Australian audiences are still to see Eggers’ sophomore outing which pits Willem Defoe and Robert Pattinson against one another in a battle of wills and sanity in a remote and confined island.
Prediction: Will wow audiences looking for the alternative and alienate those more into the mainstream. Either way, both audiences will applaud the performances and Eggers and cinematographer Jarin Blaschke will paint a stunningly beautiful canvas.
Feb 13 – Fantasy Island
Blumhouse Productions are about to shake things up again by breathing new life into a cult 70s tv series. With a star-studded cast – Michael Pena (Crash), Maggie Q (Nikita), Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars), and Michael Rooker (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer). On an island where your fantasies come true, only to turn into nightmares and the guests must figure out its mystery in order to survive.
Prediction: Another success for Jason Blum and the team which will connect with the cinema-going public. If it’s played right, it could offer a fresh take using a blend of fantasy and horror that could also spark a franchise
Feb 21 – Brahms: The Boy ll
This one is a bit of an oddity. Whilst its predecessor was a middle of the road affair and proved to be better than expected. It did feel like a one-off movie that didn’t necessarily warrant any further journey into the world of Brahms. A sequel is here though and will pick up with the doll being discovered by another family.
Prediction: A flop that will fall by the wayside and may not even make a blip on the radar.
Feb 27 – The Invisible Man
Another Blumhouse movie, this time in collaboration with Universal to resurrect their monsters franchise after the abysmal Tom Cruise vehicle from a few years ago. In what is potentially a ripe and current topic being explored in domestic violence as its central theme The Invisible Man boasts a cracking cast with Elisabeth Moss taking lead duties. It’s also in great hands with director Leigh Whannel steering the ship following his successful movie Upgrade from last year, plus Whannel is a storyteller, so expect a decent script to boot.
Prediction: The first big success of the year bringing the Universal monsters franchise back on track and paving the way for future projects with The Bride, Renfeld, The Invisible Woman, and Frankenstein.
Mar 20 – A Quiet Place Part 2
The question is whether director John Krasiniski can repeat the winning formula from the first movie. This War of the Worlds style feature with an audio twist is more sci-fi than horror, but with the family in plight scenario held a strong connection with the audience. How will this translate now that there is an absent father?
Prediction: Cillian Murphy will provide some much needed gravitas to the narrative which will be strong enough to lift the audience through with some decent ups and downs to wrench up the tension.
Apr 3 – The New Mutants
Since Disney took over Marvel operations, The New Mutants has been stuck in production, deemed a little dark for the House of Mouse questioning how to distribute it. The feature comes across as The Dream Warriors crossed with the X-Men and centres on 5 young mutants held in a secret facility against their will. It also boasts a cracking cast with Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), Anya Taylor-Joy (The VVitch, Split), and Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things).
Prediction: Despite several delays I feel that this film is gonna connect in a big way and pull in a lot of people. It just depends on how dark Disney are willing to go with it.
Apr 17 – Antlers
Little is known about this movie other than it is based on a short story by Nick Antosca the creative mind behind the Channel Zero anthology series. The screenplay must have some potential to have caught the eye of Guillermo Del Toro and put his name down as producer.
Prediction: With Keri Russell in the cast to provide the fantasy elements in reality, this could well be the surprise hit of the year.
May 15 – Saw reboot
Currently titled The Organ Donor starring Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson and Max Minghella this reboot of the Saw franchise will see the return of the Jigsaw Killer, but without Tobin Bell… I think? With director Darren Lynn Bousman at the helm once more following his turn overseeing parts 2-4, he is no stranger to the world.
Prediction: Will put bums on seats for the shock gore factor alone, but will the buddy cop drama approach pay off? Time will tell.
Jun 11 – Candyman
This is gonna be a tough one to watch for me as I am such a huge fan of the original movie and like Freddy, Candyman would haunt my dreams for a long time after viewing. A lot of that has to do with the strength of Clive Barker’s short story coupled with Tony Todd’s personification of the titular character. Part of me is willing for this to be a success though as I can see room for the movie to be delivered to a modern audience using folklore and mythology at its core, and the storyline itself can transcend easily through the ages. It will be interesting to see a female perspective in director Nia DaCosta to follow Helen’s journalistic investigations.
Prediction: Jordan Peele has attached his name to this project and is clearly passionate about the story, but one can’t help but feel this is one step too far in rekindling the old flame that resides within the Candyman story.
Jul 2 – Ghostbuster: Afterlife
I know it’s technically not a horror film, but I’m including this in the mix for its nostalgic value in me the original movie paved the love of horror that I have and opened the door to many more glorious visions in the genre ever since. The original team will return in some shape or form, but primarily the film centres around a mother and her two children who set up on a farm only to discover something paranormal lurking in the town.
Prediction: Another film that will be resting on the merits of the first film, and while it’s great to see Jason Reitman take on the franchise following in his father’s footsteps, one can only hope that there will be enough comedy, horror and sci-fi to capture that old magic, but I think it will just be a glimmer rather than that sparkle.
Jul 10 – The Purge 5
Supposedly returning for the final instalment the 12 hour no holds-barred, crimefest ignited something in the movie-going audience. It has seen five feature length instalments and 2 seasons.
Prediction: More of the same, so if you’re a fan of the series, you’ll love it. I for one think the films are fun and enjoyable and it will be interesting to see how James DiMonaco will conclude things.
Jul 30 – Morbius
Sony has promised to take the Marvel universe into dark territory before with Venom and here they intend to do so again with Morbius, the Living Vampire. Jared Leto will no doubt bring the goods for the titular role and is in good company with Matt Smith, Jared Leto, and Tyrese Gibson.
Prediction: Director Daniel Espinosa provides great entertaining and solid movies, such as Safe House and Life, and I see no change here to his formula, but still question if they can go dark enough to make it compelling for horror fans.
Sep 11 – The Conjuring 3 aka The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
The Conjuring universe has progressed in leaps and bounds since its initial release in 2013. There has been the odd blips, but essentially the films continue to entertain and scare audiences. This latest film will once again see the Warrens at the centre of proceedings, this time with one of their most publicised cases that bore witness to Arne Cheyenne Johnson claiming that he was possessed when he murdered.
Prediction: Solid acting, tight storyline, but may fall down with its delivery and exposition. Unfortunately Director Michael Chaves didn’t deliver with The Curse of La Llorona, so I fear that this may end up in a similar way, but am still willing to give it a chance.
Sep 17 – Last Night In Soho
Not much known about this one, but Edgar Wright has a knack for tapping the pulse of classic films and adapting their essence for a modern audience. This time around the psychological horror is inspired by Don’t Look Now and Polanski’s Repulsion both high in my all-time favourite lists
Prediction: A killer cast in Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Diana Rigg, and Terence Stamp, this could be the ‘big hit’ of the year.
Oct 15 – Halloween Kills
In 2018, David Gordon Green, Danny McBride and Jason Blum attempted the impossible, the resurrection of Michael Myers that would connect both fans of the original and connect with a new audience. By delving into the subject of trauma and the impact that this has on its victims, Myers became both topical and harrowing. His sheer brutality and the force in which he attacks his victims made his carnage all the more disturbing.
Prediction: The name and sheer presence of Myers will bring the audience to the screens, but can they still make him relevant? They can’t rest on the nostalgic nods this time around. It’s a fine line to walk on, for if they get it wrong, they could find their final instalment, Halloween Ends a tricky sell.
TBC – Army of the Dead
For sheer shits and giggles, and action-pumped mayhem from visual storyteller Zack Snyder, about a group of mercenaries who decide to rob a casino during a zombie outbreak, this film concludes our list.
Prediction: Starring Dave Bautista, Army of the Dead will be entertaining if nothing else. A perfect answer for those just wanting to get their kicks and not have to think too deeply.
It’s been a long time coming. Since 1978 fans of Michael Myers have endured the ups and downs of their favourite slasher as he carved his way through the residents of Haddonfield, but never has captured the hearts and imagination of John Carpenter’s original vision.
We’ve seen Myers omitted from the franchise only to be brought back to stalk his niece, then inflicted with an ancient curse, played the part of a reality TV series, and then reimagined by director Rob Zombie with conflicting results.
It seemed that Myers was dead and buried, but when ‘hotter than hot right now’, production team Blumhouse started to taut the idea of bring him back to the screens once more, a new-found interest began to surface once again.
There were certain things that began to fall into place, such as the return of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode (albeit with slight reservation as they had done this before), which was rewarded further with the approval of Carpenter himself, plus part of his agreement was that he would provide the score. Hell yeah!
It might be a small thing but with the casting of Nick Castle to the Shape back to Myers cemented things for their storyline, which would be set 40 years after the original events transpired. The catch, none of the other movies in the franchise would exist. The producers would be picking up the baton without the sequels to muddy the water.
The other slight snag is that director David Gordon Green and his writing collaborator Danny McBride, normally associated with comedy were attached to steer this new direction. The screenplay they presented had the approval of those around them, but could they pull off a horror slasher and one that comes with so much expectation?
As the pre-credits began to roll, you suddenly felt that they had got the tone just right, ranging from the familiar score charging up the emotions and the image of the pumpkin rebuilding itself with a giant metaphor for the franchise. Halloween is back and they’re going to make it as damn good as they can, whilst keeping in tone of the original movie.
As the film unfolds it soon becomes apparent that what Green and McBride are telling isn’t just a typical horror film, but one of the trauma and the suffering that one faces when they have gone through a massive ordeal such as the one Laurie Strode faced all those years ago. What does that do to the psyche? What would happen to someone like Laurie and how would she cope back once faced with the reality of her situation? The choice was to place her as a survivor of sorts who is still fighting her demons, as she has become a modern day doomsday prepper, although in her case, Laurie isn’t preparing for the end of the world, but her inevitable last encounter with Michael Myers.
Jamie Lee Curtis does an amazing job of portraying Laurie and the impact that her character has had on her family. I’m not sure if I can recall her ever showing such raw emotion on screen, but she is able to deliver a full range of vulnerability, compassion, strength, and empowerment and with it she harnesses the other characters with her to produce a well-accomplished, solid movie. Laurie Strode is now a symbol of the effect that trauma has on those who’ve lived it or experienced it. In one scene, Jamie Lee Curtis is so broken in her portrayal that you can see the pain etched across her face as her whole body folds in on itself. It truly is a wonderful performance and a fitting one as we move in a time of change and recognition of the suffering that women have had to endure over the years, forced to bury their emotions in a world that didn’t or refused to understand.
On Laurie’s journey of torment is her daughter, Karen, (who has had to bear the suffering of a childhood trapped in fear) and her Granddaughter, Allyson (a symbol of hope and understanding). Allyson almost represents the overall message here for the Halloween franchise. We have to bypass a whole generation in order to rebuild for the future. Our hands rest in the youth of tomorrow and if anyone is going to tap into that generation, it’s Blumhouse.
That’s no to say that Halloween doesn’t ignore the people that have had to tolerate each new chapter, if anything the movie wears it on its sleeve with plenty of nods and references along the way. It’s a fine line to tread, but Green manages to keep a perfect balance of old and new, whilst still offering something fresh and serving decent bouts of nostalgia to please all and sundry.
There are some stints of humour along the way though. It’s not all doom and gloom. Green is a comedy director first and foremost but he doesn’t saturate the film with light-hearted moments, instead he delivers when the beats serve it and it lifts the film all the more, especially with the scene in which Julian is being babysat for by Allyson’s friend, Vicky. It’s a great little exchange between the two of them that you know will just go sour as soon as Michael enters the scene.
As for our beloved psychopath, Michael, he hasn’t gone without his own set of changes. Having been incarcerated for 40 years, he too has bottled up his emotions, stifled from a system that refuses to let him indulge in his passion for killing. So when he does break free from prison bus transportation, he unleashes with such brutality that hasn’t been present in the franchise before. This suppressed Michael will stop at nothing to go on his killing rampage, selectively picking his victims at will, before coming face to face with his nemesis Laurie again.
The climax of the movie also hits some great strides and rewards with the choices that the characters take to meet the conclusion and puts you through the wringer whilst leaving you pleasantly satisfied with the result.
“Welcome back Michael Myers.
David Gordon Green and Danny McBride have successfully resurrected new life into a much-loved franchise and delivered a movie that will delight both old and new generations alike.
Congratulations to the Blumhouse team. You’ve produced the best Halloween film in 40 years.”
And so the ad goes throughout the movie to promote Silver Shamrock Halloween costumes.
But this tune may be the only thing that truly haunts throughout the movie as it struggles to make its mark.
Let’s get the elephant out of the room straight away shall we?
Yes this is a Halloween film, and no, it doesn’t have Michael Myers in it.
Some of you not familiar with the journey that the Halloween franchise took, may be scratching your heads and wonder how that can possibly be.
Can you imagine a Nightmare On Elm Street movie without Freddy Krueger?
Well, apparently writers John Carpenter and Debra Hill wanted to shift the format away from the slasher genre that the franchise had been so closely associated with. In their mind, the world of Michael Myers had been explored and tried.
So their intention was to turn the franchise into an anthology series, taking on a different theme with each movie. This has been both its strength and its Achilles heel.
Many fans of the series so this change of direction as a big let down in their expectations, but others have found a new love of the movie and in some cases has been described as a cult and much more appreciated in more recent years.
So, does the movie tarnish the franchise? Can it really be described as a cult movie? The Surgeons of Horror team takes on the challenge to answer these questions in our latest podcast, which you can listen to below.
Four films into his career and John Carpenter hits one out of the park and creates the slasher horror genre in the process.
And yet it’s hard to recall from a personal perspective when exactly Halloween entered my consciousness.
Released the same year that I was born, one could argue that this movie and I were intrinsically connected, if you were that way inclined.
I for one have found myself constantly drawn to the dark arts of the silver screen and it only seems natural that a movie of this pedigree would enter my periphery at some stage in my life, coupled with my growing love of Carpenter’s movies that stayed with me throughout my childhood, a connection would be inevitable.
Looking back, it’s hard to see the world of horror movies without this as part of its canon.
It’s a movie that started a whole new genre of film (some may argue that 1974’s Black Christmas was the film that started it all, but it’s impact would never be as great) and it has been mimicked and repeated ever since. Without it, Friday the 13th may never have existed. Victor Miller may have been guided be a completely different movie when coming up with the ‘horror movie template’ and the movie world would be a very different place indeed.
I think you get the point that I’m driving at, that this was a defining moment in cellular history and I’ve relished it ever since.
It’s the kind of movie that, when I first set up Surgeons of Horror, I knew that I wanted to discuss with my fellow surgeons and it was indeed the original impetus for putting together the podcast. Fate would have us steer down a completely different path however with Wes Craven’s untimely passing refocusing our directive for Season 1.
Now though, we are halfway through the John Carpenter: Early Years Sessions and finally at a point to talk about this much-heralded movie, but where does one begin?
Hopefully the following podcast will be of worthy listening, we certainly had fun discussing it. We hope that you do too.