I am not a movie critic.
I love film criticism but it comes from a dispassionate place. Proper critics could objectively look at this movie and rate it entirely based on its own merits as a film. I lack that level of objectivity. I’ve seen each Halloween film multiple times, I am well-versed in the series mythology, and I have a love for the genre that can color my perception in the way that a non-genre fan might not have.
So this is not a film review. Honestly, if you’re on a site called I Love Halloween then you’ve probably got a good idea about whether or not Halloween is for you. I enjoyed myself immensely. It didn’t knock me out of my socks like Hereditary did, but it also wasn’t as much of a pleasurably throwaway experience like The Nun. So this isn’t really going to be a review, but more of a series of observations about my experience with the film.
Onward. Beware yon spoilers.
If I could describe the film in any particular way, I’d say that it’s about a character who is fundamentally incapable of change and the way the world has moved on from him.
There’s not much of an attempt to make the idea of Michael Myers scary. In the 40 years since the character first picked up a carving knife, the notion of a unfathomable evil hasn’t shaken us anymore. Early on in the film, one of the teenage characters - who has grown up in a country where people shoot up elementary schools with AR-15s - can’t fathom what’s so scary about a guy who killed five people. Yet many of the characters are fixated on trying to understand Michael Myers and, by extension, trying to understand all the purposeless of evil. Two of the characters who seek Michael out are specifically trying to get him to say something, to no avail. There’s no scene of him shedding a tear like in Part 5, nor is there any grandiose occult conspiracy tying him to the ancient forces of Samhain. He’s just shut away from the world until he is “reactivated” by circumstance and fate.
Once he gets back into the mechanic jumpsuit and mask, he gets back to work. The filmmakers clearly had a back-to-basics approach with him. Gone are the elaborate kills, the ability to shrug off hundreds of bullets, or the ability to easily teleport around. He threads through Haddonfield using whatever internal rules help him select victims - some of the people he spares are genuinely shocking, while others are especially horrifying. Unlike H20, he’s not specifically targeting Laurie Strode in the earliest stages of his rampage, but once she pops up on his radar then he goes after his favorite victim.
It’s impossible for a longtime fan of the series to NOT compare this version of Laurie Strode to the version presented in H20 and, to be honest, I have mixed feelings. H20 is by no means a perfect film, but it’s a very different take on the trauma that Laurie endured. She didn’t turn herself into a super killer but instead went and his from her brother.
The Laurie Strode in Halloween 2018 is basically Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2. She’s become a paranoid survivalist (with apparently a doctorate in engineering, which would explain the intricacies of her trapped home) whose attempts to harden her family has driven them away from her. I really like her relationship with her daughter and granddaughter. The daughter is understandably traumatized by her upbringing and the granddaughter is willing to build bridges between them all while being too far distant from the original events to really understand them.
The movie isn’t entirely without faults. There’s a few too many overt nods to the original and it tends to lose focus and get flabby when the story pulls away from Laurie Strode and Michael Myers. Dr. Sam Loomis has a protégé in the film who has taken over Myers’s care, but his role and motivations could have easily been filled by the British journalists who accidentally awaken Myers in the first place. There’s a babysitter scene that doesn’t really do anything for the story beyond calling back to the original. And there are some scenes that are so overtly comedic that they come off as jarring. But these are small quibbles. I enjoyed the movie and will likely see it again before it leaves theaters.