David Gordon Green and Danny McBride are as unlikely a tandem to bring Halloween and Michael Myers back to life as you could think of; and yet they’ve done just that, injecting the 40-year-old horror franchise with vicious vigor that hits the reset button on the history of Halloween as we know it. In it, Laurie Strode comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.
Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley’s screenplay made the bold (but very right) decision to retcon 40 years of Halloween’s narrative. It’s already a dauntless task living up to John Carpenter’s original film, but to erase 4 decades worth of history—for one of horror’s most iconic monsters no less—was certainly an intrepid path to take. Although everything that followed the original film ranged heavily in quality (and that’s putting it nicely), there’s still a clear-cut story arc ingrained in the franchise. So removing that deepseated history—the revelation that Laurie and Michael are brother and sister (Halloween II) or that Laurie dies (Halloween: Resurrection)—and starting with a completely different story line that follows the original film only, is definitely one hell of a way to bring the franchise back from the dead.
In doing so, we have a story that feels very similar to the original’s, only this time Laurie has had 40 years to prepare for The Shape to make his return. The psychological trauma left on Laurie after that Halloween night in 1978 that left many people, including her friends, dead is the focus of Green’s film. It’s certainly a powerful take on the story, seeing what has become of Laurie after all these years, because it’s not at all what you would expect to see from one of horror’s original final girls: in shambles. And despite surviving that terrible night, she was still robbed of living a normal life and that shit hit me right in the feels. Now she’s a reclusive wreck that lost everything, living only to prepare for the night he comes home—it’s really a perfect and altogether poignant way to follow-up the aftermath of 1978’s Halloween.
While Laurie and old man Michael’s story feels true and organic as a sequel, it’s unfortunately undermined by a surprisingly safe narrative that follows many of the same story beats as the original. There’s obviously some key differences in Green’s film, but generally it’s very similar to the original in structure; there’s even some scenes that are basically copy-and-pasted from Carpenter’s film. I’m sure the idea here was to pay tribute, but for me it translated into something that felt more safe and derivative. That’s not to say that it doesn’t work, because some of it totally does, but if you’re expecting this one to raise the bar then you’ll find the story to be disappointing like I did—especially that godawful twist (if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know what I mean). Laurie being absent from a lot of the movie certainly didn’t help matters either. Her only real impact to the narrative comes in the film’s final act, which is surprising considering the movie is about her; that only further complicated my thoughts on the story as a whole.
Where the film shines however, is how it handles old man Michael Myers, who has never been more vicious and violent. Green’s film makes a point to show us how 40 years of pent up rage has affected him, which is very much reflective of Laurie’s story. So when Myers is finally back in Haddonfield, no one is safe. He’s less of a boogeyman this time around as he hunts in broad daylight, killing everything in his path. There are many instances where the camera follows Myers around—including a brilliant, long single take—that brought an entirely new and terrifying layer to the seminal slasher. It’s why the movie is such a crowd-pleaser (hello $77.5M domestic opening weekend) and it was entertaining as hell to watch. It may not be the best or scariest film in the franchise, but it’s certainly one of the most fun.
And potential hot take warning, but I actually think the soundtrack in this film is better than the original. John Carpenter returning to carve out a new score for Halloween is the coolest shit ever and I thought that he (along with Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies) did a brilliant job of modernizing Myers’ iconic theme. So to wrap this thing up, I gotta say that despite some flaws that hold it back from being on the same level as its counterpart, Green has delivered a worthy sequel where so many others before it have failed and a satisfying conclusion to one of the genre’s greatest films. Not bad. Not bad at all.