The Halloween franchise is easily one of the oddest collections of films; there are currently eleven films in the series, with all kinds of weird continuity — the third installment being an attempt at turning the franchise into some kind of horror anthology — but when that didn’t work, they brought back knife-wielding Michael Myers to terrorize teenagers everywhere. Then, in 2007, Rob Zombie was given the chance to reboot the franchise, but neither it nor its sequel were well-received by fans, and now Blumhouse Productions brings us the final (snicker) installment that ignores every other film except the John Carpenter original. Being that the Halloween sequels vary in quality, between adequate and utter crap, this is not an intrinsically bad idea – the Godzilla franchise does this kind of thing all the time – but the problem here is that without those forty years of Michael Myers slashing his way across America, we’re just dealing with a sixty-year-old guy who killed five people decades ago. This kind of lets the air out of the tires of the whole thing.
This follow up to the 1978 original finds Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) living in a heavily fortified house deep in the woods, the traumatic events of the “Babysitter Killings” having turned her into a paranoid survivalist, whose crazed plans to ward off the inevitable return of Michael Myers resulted in Child Services taking away her twelve-year-old daughter. The estranged daughter Karen (Judy Greer), now an adult and married to a guy named Ray (Toby Huss), has a teenaged daughter of her own named Allyson (Andi Matichak), who rebels against her mother’s wishes when it comes to hanging out with crazy grandma. You really can’t blame her, as Laurie is as crazy as a shithouse rat, for when she’s not breaking down into a sobbing mess at a restaurant, she’s cosplaying as Sarah Conner.
Now I’m sure that narrowly escaping with your life while your close friends were brutally murdered, is going to leave some emotional scars on a teenage girl, but the Laurie Strode in this film appears to be a woman who must have seen all those sequels – the ones we’re supposed to pretend didn’t happen – because if not, she has ruined her life over a guy who killed a few people and has been rotting in a mental institution ever since. Why has she trained every day of her life since that fateful night for his return? Myers hasn’t said one peep to anyone since he was six years old, so there really isn’t any reason to believe that if he managed to escape, he’d give two shits about the one that got away, and the movie wisely ditched the whole “Laurie is Michael’s little sister” plot line, but with that gone we lose any substantial motivation for why he’d want to track her down. In this film, we see him wander from house to house randomly murdering people, and there doesn’t seem to be any pattern or trigger for these kills, so why the fixation on Laurie?
The film opens with two British true-crime podcasters Aaron (Jefferson Hall) and Dana (Rhian Rees) confronting Michael Myers (Nick Castle) at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, waving the iconic Halloween mask in his fact in the hopes of getting a reaction. The only reason for this scene is to apparently set up how he gets his old mask back, as if that’s something any of the films in this franchise every worried about. These soon-to-be-dead podcasters then drop by to bother crazy Laurie in her “Bunker of Doom” thinking she can shed some light on why Myers tried to kill her all those many years ago…wait…what? Wasn’t it made clear that Myers was just stalking and killing random teenagers, and that the only thing special about Laurie was that she survived? The original Halloween II took place the same night as the first film, so Myer’s following her to the hospital could be considered him wanting to tie up loose ends, but to think that after forty years he’s still hung up on her, well that’s kind of pathetic. We get Laurie spouting such drivel as, “Forty years ago, he came to my home to kill. He killed my friends, and now he’s back to finish what he started, with me. The one person who’s ready to stop him.” How exactly did she come to this conclusion? Has Laurie developed some sort of psychic bond with a mental patient who hasn’t spoken a word in decades? There has to be a better explanation for why Michael Myers has returned to Haddonfield; more than just to finish off Laurie.
In this film’s hour and forty-five minute run-time, we are introduced to many characters, from Michael’s current psychiatrist Dr. Ranbir Sartain (Haluk Bilginer), who is easily the stupidest character to appear in a Halloween movie, to the noble Officer Hawkins (Will Patton), who was the first officer on the scene of the “Babysitter Killings,” and was the one who apprehended Myers. This raises an interesting continuity issue, because the original film ended with Laurie and Dr. Loomis looking out the balcony window to find that Michael Myers had disappeared. Are we to assume that Myer’s just got up after being shot, hobbled around to the side of the house, only to be quickly apprehended by Officer Hawkins? With Michael Myers being immediately captured, and not mysteriously vanishing into the night, it completely undercuts the whole “Boogeyman” aspect of Michael Myers. With this new take on things that classic ending would have been altered to something like this…
Laurie: “Was that the Boogeyman?”
Loomis: “As a matter of fact, it was.”
Laurie: “Oh look, they just arrested him.”
Loomis: “Well, I guess he wasn’t the Boogeyman after all.”
This new Halloween offers none of the suspense or scares found in the original, with kills that aren’t even vaguely interesting – bashing heads is his go-to attack in this film – and the characters are so thinly developed that I couldn’t have cared less if they were killed by Myers or not. Even John Carpenter’s haunting music failed to illicit a reaction from me, as it only reminded me of how much of a better film the original was. This sequel/remake/reboot simply recycles classic moments from previous entries and trots out Jamie Lee Curtis to add some nostalgia to the proceedings, but worst of all is that an iconic horror villain is relegated to lumbering around like a trained seal with all the mystery brutally removed. This may not be the worst entry in the franchise, that’s still Halloween: Resurrection, but what we have here is a chapter that just didn’t need to be told.
• Michael’s retrieving of his iconic mask makes him the luckiest serial killer on the planet; there is no way he could have known the podcasters would stop at a particular gas station to fill up.
• When it is discovered that Michael Myers has returned, and several people have already been murdered, the police drive Laurie and her family to her country house. Wouldn’t the police station have been the more obvious choice of destinations?
• Laurie has a hidden basement bunker in her home, one which everyone keeps running in and out of, instead of remaining hidden there.
• A couple of idiot cops radio “officer down,” just before they themselves are killed, but no further police ever arrive at the scene.
• Allyson running through woods had me wondering if I’d nodded off and they were now playing Friday the 13th.
• Laurie stalks Michael through her home with a rifle – a terrible choice for close-quarter combat – and she doesn’t even bother to turn on any lights.
• Once again, people shoot Michael and then forget that they still have a gun in their hands, this is so he can get back up and come at them again.
A heroine suffering from PTSD could have led to an interesting movie, and Jamie Leigh Curtis can certainly pull that off, but the filmmakers forgot that once you ditch the villain’s decade’s worth of movie history all were left with is an old dude with a stabbing fixation.