History is about to repeat itself — just not in the way you think.
It’s been four decades since Michael Myers, aka The Shape, escaped a mental hospital to kill five people in sleepy small-town Haddonfield. Two podcasting journalists, Arron (Jefferson Hall) and Dana (Rhian Rees), convince Michael’s current doctor (Haluk Bilginer) to permit them to provoke a reaction… to no effect. With no new information gained, the pair try their luck with Michael’s surviving victim and resident recluse Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) yet still come up empty-handed. The past weighs heavily upon Laurie, and while still unable to convince her own daughter Karen (Judy Greer) of the continuing danger, she finds a kindred spirit in granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). On the eve of Michael’s transfer to a maximum-security facility, Laurie watches in despair — wishing with all her being The Bogeyman would escape — as her last chance to destroy him begins to slip away.
The “classics” never seem to stay dead. From three seasons on Starz of “Ash vs. Evil Dead” to an upcoming Chucky reboot, the modern movie slashers still persist. Dispatching all but the original 1978 John Carpenter film that introduced The Shape, director David Gordon Green wrote a treatment along with Danny McBride (yes, that Danny McBride) and others to craft a direct sequel that hints at all that has gone before while moving fully into new territory. While the original Halloween inspired both intentional rip-offs and self-aware horror-comedies — even a competent remake by Rob Zombie before going off the rails in his sequel — is the film world ready for an intelligent slasher flick where audiences root for the survivors and the killer?
Failing the Bechdel Test in the best possible way, Halloween 2018 elevates the Final Girl trope into a true till-it-happens-to-you art form. Of *course* Michael Myers is itching to murder Laurie Strode, but Laurie Strode also can’t wait to kill Michael Myers… and she’s willing to go full Sarah Connor to nail her own Terminator to the wall. Ms. Curtis pours her heart and soul into maternal badassery, a survivor who fears missing her opportunity far more than experiencing abject failure. Not content in just taking her power back, she chooses to make damn sure the silent object of her ire knows it’s “game on.” No science fiction, no supernatural forces, and no holds barred.
While blending the best parts of a revenge flick with a slasher film, the female empowerment elements flirt with feminism, straddling the line between useless or inadequate menfolk without making them pointless. It’s no secret the guys herein take a back seat to the gals, but a smart script avoids full-on kid-flick issues where all non-kids (aka adults) are complete idiots merely to make the children appear more heroic. In the same way “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” flipped the trope of the doomed blonde cheerleader who trips running through the woods, Halloween 2018 also mirrors the oft-imitated crunchy bits originating in the 1978 version and reinvents them to cheer-worthy effect.
Familiar yet modern, this revamp does little wrong in light of getting so much right, especially in the ways many new entries fail to realize (Sony’s floundering missed-opportunity Slenderman immediately comes to mind). It’s easy to pigeonhole a movie like this as another grrl-power film, but a more apt description is survivor-empowerment: bullies beware. Yes, you *should* believe in The Bogeyman… and maybe he should believe in you, too.
Halloween 2018 is rated R for horror violence and bloody images, language, brief drug use, nudity, and unforgivable things happening to a perfectly good mobile phone.
Four skull recommendation out of four