Any sequel in a franchise is tricky. Because the main characters are so iconic, it is difficult to have a new vision while remaining true to the original. Hype for each film is inevitably shot down on opening weekend by reviewers and fans alike who are upset that the nine millionth installment didn’t live up to the original.
Halloween just managed to blow that out of the water.
This movie (the eleventh installment, in case you’ve lost count) does what others in the franchise have not yet attempted: it pretends that nothing after the original ever really happened. Watching this one pretending that the nine movies that followed were actually elaborate fan fiction or urban legend was half the fun! The beauty of this plan of attack is that it is done in a truly respectful way. There is a lot of love and care put into ensuring that the spirit of the original is intact.
While Blumhouse is known for elaborate jump scares in its films, it is not the case here. The focus is squarely on building suspense. There are jump scares, to be sure, but a lot of the scares are subtle. For instance, Michael would be blurry and far away murdering someone in the background while the person the audience is focused on is busy elsewhere. The blood is (for the most part) minimal, and some of the kills are suggested. A character will leave the room and then rather than seeing the kill you see the body later.
This is a sequel that was born out of fan love. I could picture the writers sitting down and rather than saying “What do the fans want to see?” asking each other, “What would I love to see as a fan of Halloween?” While this one has left the door open for a potential sequel, it doesn’t really offer any new material. There were a few really great characters, and an additional twist that was interesting and unexpected, but nothing that completely reimagines the series. However, that’s not why we go see the umpteenth addition to a horror franchise. We want more of the same, delivered in an unexpected way, and that’s what we got here.
As for Jamie Lee Curtis, she does a great job as the iconic final girl that she made famous forty years ago. The take here was more like she portrayed her character in 1998’s Halloween: H2O. She plays the character as someone who has been traumatically scarred by the events, and was never able to get over it. She is someone who doesn’t regret her decisions, but is forced to acknowledge how it has impacted her family, especially her relationships with her daughter and grand-daughter. Of course, in this case she gets to dole out the biggest, fattest I TOLD YOU SO in the history of I TOLD YOU SOs, but that’s neither here not there. The big difference here is that she hasn’t turned to medicating or hiding. She is a badass, with a MacGyver’ed house and wicked aim with a shotgun.
Michael Myers and John Carpenter’s original version is treated with the utmost respect here. The looming shape has an updated mask, but it doesn’t change how stoic and creepy he is. He is a runaway train, killing until he hits something. If you’re a fan of the franchise, you won’t be disappointed!