Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak
Writer: John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Director: David Gordon Green
Music: Cody Carpenter, John Carpenter, Daniel A. Davis
Always been a huge fan of Michael Myers, so when this came out, of course I was in the theater highly anticipating a good horror film. Let me tell you, you don’t need to be a Michael Myers fan to enjoy this movie. If you’re into nail-biting, blanket-hugging tension and can stomach bloody violence, this movie will blow your mind!
The story itself exists as the sequel to the first Halloween in ’78, just forty years later. All the in-between versions (Curse of Michael Myers, Resurrection, the horrible Rob Zombie ones) don’t exist in this storyline. According to the 2018 movie, Michael only killed five people on Halloween in 1978, and has since been confined and studied at a penitentiary where the 2018 movie begins.
Hollywood horror has been fairly predictable, and never once have I been genuinely afraid during a slasher movie. Takes a lot to scare me, but scenes in this Halloween had me clutching my teenage niece for security. First scene that comes to mind is the penitentiary scene where all the patients riled upon the appearance of Michael’s mask. What an adrenaline-hyping scene. That volcanic tension of the dogs barking and the patients raving gave me goosebumps I’ll never forget.
From there, I sat wide-eyed and breathless in two specific scenes. The first being the backyard scene where the motion sensor light illuminated Michael standing ominously behind a tree. The light flashes off, Michael’s no longer by the tree but is closer, by the light itself. Just looming there. Silently stalking his unsuspecting victim, Oscar.
Right then, seeing Michael standing not but five feet away, that immediate spike in adrenaline kicked me into survival mode, and my heart raced in panic for Oscar. Such a classic horror film technique executed flawlessly, inducing all the right emotions of terror and danger.
The second time that happened in the movie was when Michael was put in the back of the squad car with Allyson, our protagonist. The whole time the doctor is dragging Michael to the car, I kept repeating, “No, no, no, no, no.” I knew Michael was going into that backseat with her, and that they’d be locked together. When it happened, I stopped breathing altogether because if you don’t breathe, Michael won’t know you’re there. I felt that as the audience. Imagine how Allyson felt!
Allyson rode down the street next to the infamous Michael Myers with his mask resting on the seat between them. Suddenly you hear that raspy breathing from behind Michael’s mask, Allyson realizes the mask is missing, and in its place Michael’s hand slides away from her. He’s now awake and ready to kill, and the raging maniac has been caged in the backseat of a patrol car.
That panic I felt when his hand moved where I expected the mask, seeing him sitting face-to-face with her, awake…that is what every villain should be made of. That fear of their existence. What an incredibly tense moment in cinema.
The final moment of that gritty tension was in the house when Laurie was hunting Michael. What a reverse of roles, by the way. Laurie was chasing the blood trail up the stairs, scanning rooms with her shotgun, sealing rooms once she guaranteed they were clear. The blood led to the last hall. The only room left. He’s in there, she knows he’s in there, we know he’s in there. That moment of hesitation when she’s in the hall debating whether to fall into his trap and then she proceeds…I felt right then like I had committed suicide. Stepping into that room, I knew I was no match for Michael. Laurie, though, that bad ass marched right in there. She scanned the room, followed the blood to the closet. Jump scare number one backfired, and therein I experienced that horrified panic of, “If he’s not there, where the hell is he then?”
The best part about these thrilling scenes was that they progressed to the climax. Lots of times a movie will open with an intense or thrilling scene to hook the audience, but then that thrill is difficult to top throughout the rest of the movie. Each kill scene in Halloween successfully added a layer onto the power of Michael’s rage in order to amplify our fear of him during the climax.
And when that climax finally arrived, we were fully prepared for Michael and Laurie to face off. We had an hour’s worth of film validating Michael’s merciless brutality. And here he is in the same room as his target. It comes down not to who’s the better shot, but who wants who dead more.
What an incredible scene, by the way. The hand-to-hand combat between Michael who has been driven for four decades to kill Laurie, and Laurie striking back at the shadow from her past that she can’t shed. The Halloween climax we’ve all been waiting for.
The reversal of Laurie’s and Michael’s roles was a cinematic win for this film. Those classic horror techniques of their history Laurie began to use. Laurie falling out a window and disappearing when Michael looked away and looked back; Laurie lurking across the street when the protagonist looks out the window in class; Laurie fighting with a knife; Laurie searching the bedroom closet for Michael. Nice touch.
All right, now that I’ve gotten all the excitement off my chest, let’s get nitty gritty.
The music in this film stayed true to the classic Halloween theme, but manipulated the theme to suit the scene. For instance, in the backyard scene when Allyson comes to the gate and Michael steps out, she sees him for the first time and an electric guitar wildly rips at that classic Michael Myers introduction.
It was the perfect execution of the song for that moment in the movie. The pounding piano theme wouldn’t have suited that sort of climax the way that shredding guitar did.
In the opening kill scene, the music was stripped leaving us with the raw sound of their deaths. The grunting and splashing of blood. Also the sprinkling sound of the teeth hitting the floor as Michael releases them from his palm. Fine details of sensory perception that create a very tangible moment for the audience.
The deaths in the movie were rather grizzly and difficult to watch. But we needed to be made uncomfortable with Michael’s methods. We needed the bashing of a man’s head, pools of blood, a strangled kid, a skull squished under his boot. We needed those deaths to be so dramatically stomach-churning firstly because it’s a trademark of Halloween and all 70’s horror film. Without it, the deaths would have been too “neat”. We also needed it for the final fight. For us to fully grasp Michael’s blood-thirsty desire to kill, and then his death-defying drive to specifically kill Laurie Strode.
Twists! Expect twists and lots of ’em. From small twists to surprising situations, this movie is packed with sharp curves. Just when you thought you had the characters pinned or when the plotline was becoming predictable…BAM! You’re wrong and you’re jaw is hanging between your feet.
Those two specifically come to mind when I think twists in this movie. I won’t say more and spoil it for ya.
The reason I love Michael Myers so much is the reality behind his story. This could really happen. Serial killers are known to exhibit superhuman capabilities related to their desire to kill specific prey, and until that desire is fulfilled, their adrenaline to satisfy that fantasy causes an immunity to pain. Hence why Michael is able to be shot and stabbed and lit on fire. His purpose to kill Laurie conquers death.
This movie appealed to the realism in his character and his story. Even to the fine details. How did Michael get his mask when he escaped? Because it was brought by investigative journalists who thought the presence of the mask would provoke a psychological or emotional response in Michael. The mask was on scene for a reason other than cinematic convenience.
How did Michael get out of his white hospital suit and into the classic blue overalls? His first killing was at a gas-n-go with a mechanic on site. He took the suit from the mechanic, got his mask and became the Michael Myers we all fear. Realism is the scariest feature of a story, and it’s obvious in the successful execution of that device that the writers and directors wanted reality as a main ingredient in this film.
Michael’s mask took an upgrade, too. The wear on it made it appear aged in a way a human face would after four decades. It still looked like Michael Myers, but the state of the mask itself translated well to the age of the movie.
Even Laurie’s turn from victim into bad ass was realistic. As Dr. Sartian said, trauma can be handled in a variety of ways. Many convert their trauma into strength. Laurie built a fortress, got some gun training, drank her pain numb and conquered her fears to battle her forty year enemy, Michael Myers. And she handled herself very well during that fight scene. Compliments to Jamie Lee Curtis for looking ruggedly gorgeous the entire film. Absolutely beautiful woman who proves age really is just a number.
Directing-wise, there were some beautiful shots. In the “Halloween Homicide” scene where Michael kills his second victim in Haddonfield, the camera focuses in a front room window at a woman on a telephone. The camera remains motionless for two minutes while Michael enters the house. Practical environmental tools are used to capture Michael’s every move from the front porch to the back door where he sneaks in without the camera moving whatsoever.
In the first frame, we catch Michael’s chilling reflection in the window glass.
Then we watch Michael walk up the side of the house thanks to an outdoor light, and see his grandeur shadow cast up onto the side of the garage.
The victim approaches the camera, and we see past her where Michael enters the house and kills her. Such impressive directing and angling on that one!
My only tick is how fast Michael walked in the movie. Though I wasn’t expecting him to be so slow, I definitely didn’t anticipate him speed-walking after his victims. Especially not since according to chronology, Michael should be 61 years old in this movie. The fast-walking deviated from character and felt more like a lazy overlook than an increase in Michael’s fear factor.
As far as classics go, this movie exceeded the expectation for staying true. From the song to the costume to the character himself, John Carpenter preserved Michael Myers. By far,my favorite thriller movie. This one will be hard to top.
Halloween Kills is set to release October 16th, 2020. And Halloween is said to “end” on October 15th, 2021.
Special thanks to Fandango (Youtube) for the video clips from the movie!