‘Halloween’ revives the franchise by ignoring it

Latest sequel draws solely from the‘78 original

halloween

Film: “Halloween”
Release Date: Oct. 19
Studio: Miramax
Grade: B

John Carpenter struck gold with 1978’s “Halloween.”

The horror classic has become a staple in the horror genre, spawning a franchise of 11 films. The franchise has been subject to several changes in narrative and storyline, as well as a two-film reboot by Rob Zombie.

But the ensuing sequels failed to maintain the edge of the original.

John Carpenter was hard pressed to move forward with the sequel, “Halloween II,” in 1981. His directorial duties were handed to Rick Rosenthal, although Carpenter stayed on as as writer and producer. 

Over the next 40 years, the “Halloween” franchise would experience many ups and downs, with storylines that became more and more bizzare with each consecutive film. Michael Myers went from the hauntingly evil serial killer in the 1978 film to the seemingly immortal Michael Myers capable of withstanding the invasion of Normandy.

David Gordon Green had other ideas for 2018.

Alongside co-writers Danny McBride (yes, Kenny Powers himself) and Jeff Fradley, Gordon’s 2018 “Halloween” sought to re-energize the franchise with a new approach: Ignore every single film in the series except the 1978 original. “Halloween” stays true to the original narrative, background and characters laid out by John Carpenter, who also wrote a revised score for the 2018 film. 

But a true “Halloween” sequel wouldn’t be complete without Jamie Lee Curtis.

Curtis returns to her titular role as Laurie Strode for 2018’s “Halloween.” Strode is severely traumatized from the events of the 1978 film, and has spent 40 years preparing for Michael Myers’ inevitable escape.

“Halloween” also finds time to pay homage to several of the franchise’s sequels, such as the gas station which has a similar layout and series of events seen in “Halloween 4: the Return of Michael Myers.” 

Curtis and company have taken Strode’s character in a new direction that works. The storyline of Laurie Strode going full Rambo to counter Michael Myers’ murderous streak was a gamble. The film works hard to prove Strode’s reaction to the 1978 killings could be a real response, showcasing an alienated and dismantled family as Strode grows more and more paranoid.

“Halloween” isn’t without its fair share of slasher-esque tendencies. The film starts slow while showcasing an incarcerated Michael Myers only to quickly pick up steam and an immense body count in the process.

Laurie Strode was ready for such an outcome.

Myers and Strode clash toward the second half of “Halloween.” Strode takes on the role of hunter and Michael becomes the prey as he wander the streets of Haddonfield upon arrival. Strode proves she isn’t messing around, telling the sheriff of Haddonfield point-blank she has prayed regularly since 1978 that Michael would escape and meet his end from her doing.

“Halloween” seeks to balance respecting the original film and setting the stage for a narrative with an overarching element of self-empowerment. Strode has her share of moments worthy of cheer throughout the film. But the element of Strode’s ability to deal with the horrors she witnessed 40 years earlier often mars the line between realistic and reaching.

Green found a balance between an interesting yet plausible narrative to follow the 1978 film while also adding in exceptional thrills. Throughout the film, Michael Myers returns to form as his kills don’t spawn gore. Instead Myers’ kills terrify more than they shock.

“Halloween” largely ties up loose ends spanning 40 years for the residents of Haddonfield, especially Strode. David Gordon Green has left the door open for potential sequels if the film performs. With an $76 million opening weekend, follow-ups to 2018’s “Halloween” seem inevitable. 

Brian Evans is the senior arts editor and can be reached at brian.evans@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @BrianEvansSpec

BRIAN EVANS


Brian Evans is a senior English major and The Spectrum's senior arts editor.