Face Your Fate
David Gordon Green
Forty years after the events of Halloween, two podcasting journalists pay a visit to the asylum where Michael Myers is being held. He is set to be transferred but they want answers. Getting nothing from the silent, stoic figure, they visit Laurie Strode [Curtis], the sole survivor of the incident. From here we learn that her relationship with her family is fractured and she has become a recluse hiding in a fortified property behind fences and walls, armed to the teeth for the day her attacker may return. Sure enough, the transfer does not go according to plan and Michael escapes to return to Haddonfield and finish what he started.
One key take-away from this release is how well it has been assembled. The direction and cinematography pick a lane and stick to it, giving us a very moody release with some extremely pleasing shots and uses of lighting. The editing on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired; disorientating, restrictive and unnecessarily erratic, it occasionally gets a little confused and really fails to capture the distinctive style that made Carpenter’s original so iconic. Speaking of Carpenter, the score has received a nice, subtle revamping, tastefully recycling the classic themes with a contemporary presentation. A good example of this would be the solitary guitar riffs that punctuate Allyson’s fear when first face-to-face with Michael.
Watching this movie, it becomes very apparent that it is a product of its time; seemingly deliberately so. Acting as a time capsule, Halloween deals with several subtle incidents of progressive younger characters dealing with older generations. This can take the form of two cops discussing a Vietnamese packed lunch over standard PB&J, a young boy forced onto a hunting trip by his father when all he wants to do is to focus on dancing, the difference between how Tommy Doyle interacts with Laurie in the original compared to the incredibly sassy but lovable Julian (played by Jibrail Nantambu) and Allyson [Matichak] and her boyfriend dressing up as Bonnie and Clyde but with a gender-swap twist, keeping that element a secret from Allyson’s parents. But the movie really shines with its portrayal of Laurie Strode. Curtis has always been a formidable acting force but here she goes full Sarah Connor as we explore the mind of a victim who has led a torturous existence waiting for something that may never come. Equally, the portrayal of her daughter finally gives an opportunity for someone to take Judy Greer and do something more with her than Jurassic World or Ant-Man, offering us an equally tormented individual who was drilled constantly by an over-protective, paranoid mother, while simultaneously living with her own trauma from her unorthodox raising. Also, the combined performance for Michael Myers is fantastic; the shape moves as he should and is just as terrifying and unstoppable a force as he has always been.
**Spoilers at the end of this paragraph**
But we also have to address the weaker elements to the cast. Starting with those stupid stupid podcasters. I genuinely hated these characters. I wasn’t entirely sure what they brought to the plot other than buckets of exposition and to effectively bring Michael his mask. There is possibly the slightly interesting question of whether their need need to understand him brought him back, or whether he was genuinely waiting for this moment to strike but ultimately, they are unlikeable, annoying and painfully twee. I’m sure there’s some sort of statement there about society’s desire to humanise villains (*cough* “balance” in political coverage *cough*) to the degree that they become sympathetic, taking the viewpoint that certain evils are just evil but it’s never really addressed or followed up to have a lasting impact. It is also worth mentioning that all the men are utterly useless. This is far from a complaint, just an observation; I have absolutely no need to raise a fist to the sky and decry this movie for making men look bad, it simply presents men as men and they happen to be bad. From Allyson’s wise-cracking but ineffective father to her straight-up abusive boyfriend to Allyson’s rather pathetic friend and back to that podcasting journalist who somehow acquired evidence in a murder case, held it up to the killer and screamed “Say something!” repeatedly. Which brings me to Doctor Sartain, played by Haluk Bilginer. He is taken out fairly early in the story and put into a coma, giving way for the rather decently acted role of Officer Hawkins [Will Patton] but then he comes back and is the most suspicious motherfucker. It was odd that he survived the bus crash but then every line he is given is delivered like a cackling, moustache-twirling classic Universal horror mad scientist. He even goes so far as to say “remember, he’s property of the state, he mustn’t be harmed.” At that point, the man has killed several people, it’s blatantly obvious he has his own twisted agenda and the fact I was unsurprised by this was criminally disappointing.
It is my opinion that Halloween II, Halloween H20 and Rob Zombie’s remake Halloween all have very interesting ideas and concepts but are, overall, flawed films. It is also my opinion that this latest Halloween sequel is on a par with these releases, stuffed with some really great notions, characters and setups but failing to really satisfy in a way that has the same impact as the original. But in truth, the encompassing issue any Halloween sequel faces is that they end up trying to explain Michael. A familial element was introduced but that robbed the terror of the lack of a reason the Annie, Laurie and Lynda were targeted, the next generation was also explored, one impatient with his mother’s paranoia but that also fell a little flat for the same reason, ensuring the Myers attacks were simply driven by some bloodline vengeance. Finally, the 2007 remake tried to get into the headspace of Michael, exploring his slide from innocent child to cold killer due to his abusive home life. I personally really enjoyed this portrayal but the problem is, it maintained the family connection to Laurie and essentially had to tack on the entirety of Halloween to the final act. The best comparison I can give is that of Scream 4 which united a lot of the original cast and crew and delivered something that was both pleasing yet largely mediocre, giving us an entertaining new experience with a new satirical, conversational drive but it didn’t have the same lasting impact. Unfortunately, for all the good it does and as pleasing as it is, it still hits the same old familiar notes and pumps the nostalgia gas enough for people to not realise they’re watching the same film again.
A lot of hardcore fans will hate this release while many more will enjoy it and laud praise upon it. While not wholly unjustified, I would be curious to see how long that lasts as I can almost guarantee that another sequel will be punched out off the back of this movie’s success and it can only serve to be just as disappointing as the lower tier sequels in this franchise. But hopefully I’m wrong.
19th October 2018
The Scene To Look Out For:
On Halloween night, Michael begins his killing spree by stalking the neighbourhood, moving from house to house, remorselessly executing people in his path. It’s presented in an incredibly orchestrated continuous one-shot and offers an insight into Michael’s movements and efficiency. And that’s part of the problem. Myers sees a woman returning to her house so picks up a hammer, enters the home and kills her, then he takes a knife, ignores a crying baby and moves to the next home. There he peers through the window then goes inside and stabs a woman then leaves. At the end of the day, it’s honestly difficult to enjoy because we don’t know why and that should be part of the thrill but all we end up with is a healthy dose of confusion. Either that or at the very start of the film, I was trying to ascertain when the movie was set. The asylum Michael is housed in has an eclectic mix of things from really old record players to CRT screens but the visitors have a fairly new looking zoom audio device. Not to mention the fashion is all over the place – but that’s pretty reflective of contemporary trends and styles. But all of that fell away as a printed sign was taped to a window that said “Please ensure all..” except it actually read “Please insure” and from that point, I had real issue focusing on the film and before the simple but impressive title sequence brought me back round, I got the feeling this entire release might irk me.
One of Allyson’s close friends is babysitter Vicky. In the scene above, I mentioned Michael going from house to house, randomly killing people with speed and efficiency. The next house he calls on is the one Vicky happens to be in. Suddenly his relentless attacks are substituted with a cat-and-mouse game and while this could easily offer us insight into Michael’s predilection for stalking young women, it became obvious that her character was a little more charming and interesting to watch than Allyson’s. Sure, Laurie is very much cast as the goody-two-shoes virgin labelled as boring by her friends but Vicky’s just a nice kid who feels more like a Strode than Allyson. But I feel this is to do with the script’s pressure to include the PTSD-affecting family element that denied Allyson of any innocence. As stated earlier, this isn’t exactly a complaint, just an interesting side-effect of the nature of the script and direction of the story.
“There’s nothing new to learn. No new insights or discoveries”
In A Few Words:
“A completely solid sequel-reboot but the same problems that afflicted the others are just as present and for some will be unavoidable”