The new HALLOWEEN isn’t terrible

HALLOWEEN 2018 POSTER

I’m not a professional film critic and I don’t pretend to be, but I figured, since everyone is asking, I’d share a few of my thoughts on the new Halloween.

If you don’t like spoilers and plan to see this movie, you may not want to read further (or, if you want to wait for the Dark Discussions episode, we’re recording it tonight, so it’ll probably be released next week).

Overall, I came out of this movie feeling like I’d had fun, and it was worth my ticket price. First off, there are some nice homages to the original (this list is huge; I’m only pointing out a couple here). There is a scene between a blonde babysitter and her pot-smoking boyfriend, a moment in which Michael sits bolt upright, and a moment in which Michael looks down at what he thinks is a dead Laurie, only to see she has vanished. The modern-day Haddonfield feels and looks like the one from the original, and its home interiors are rendered in subtle throwbacks to the 1970s, including gilded wallpaper, earth-tone color schemes, Colonial-style furniture and even a rotary wall phone.

There is also a strong visual motif using slats and bars, suggesting that we can become prisoners to our emotions and obsessions, one of the movie’s themes: most of these characters are in intangible prisons of their own making.

Once we get into the kills, there’s a great deal of fun to be had. Plenty of unexpected twists, downright disturbing moments and unapologetic thrilling jump scares (this movie knows what it’s expected to be). There are also moments of humor to break the tension, which come across as organic. That’s something that wasn’t in the original, and I liked it.

I’m not a person who’s into gore, and I found that this gore is balanced and not at all gratuitous. There are places where they could’ve gotten really disgusting, and they don’t; the kills by themselves are shocking enough. While there is significantly more blood and gore than the original (which honestly has very little), I was expecting to be grossed out. I wasn’t. They do cutaways where appropriate and lots of shots of victims in pools of blood, which makes the point just fine and keeps the story moving.

In addition, smart choices are made in favor of creep over splatter. When Michael has a finger blown off, we don’t see it. Instead, a scene or two later, we see him silhouetted, one finger missing and dripping. Much more effective.

What plussed this for me was the audience. I was in a packed house, and clearly, everyone was looking to have a good time. There was screaming, there was giggling, there were lots of people saying “Oh my God” and “Don’t open the door.” What I found most interesting? People were almost more horrified when a cell phone got tossed in a punch bowl than they were when someone got knifed. That’s kind of scary, if you think about it, but points for a creative solution to the “cell phone has no service to call for help” trope (and one that made complete sense plot-wise).

Now for what I didn’t like.

The first 20 minutes or so is slow and on the edge of boring—but this isn’t because they should have cut the backstory about Laurie and her relationship with her daughter and granddaughter; applause for that having been properly built, so that not only do we care about the characters, their arcs work and the conclusion of those arcs have satisfying bangs on them. There’s also wonderful conflict there, which is the only interesting part about the opening.

What should have been cut is the additional storyline.

The film opens with two journalists going to the institution where Michael is held. They interview his doctor and try to get Michael, who’s being moved to a different facility the next day, to speak to them (which of course he doesn’t). Then we follow the journalists to visit Laurie Strode, and there is a long scene in which they try to convince her to talk to them about her life and fail. A few scenes later, after Michael escapes, we see the journalists murdered in a gas station.

None of this is necessary. The journalist storyline clearly serves no other purpose than to provide exposition—honestly, their motive for the interviews to begin with is completely weak—which could have been executed much more effectively other ways. We could’ve gotten to the good stuff much sooner, and the story wouldn’t have dragged, had it simply opened with us getting to know Laurie’s issues with her family through the granddaughter’s problem of wanting her grandmother to come see her get an academic award; everything could’ve been established there. The information about Michael being transported could’ve easily been communicated through Laurie seeing this on television, which would also heighten the tension with her family. Then show the bus accident, where we meet the doctor at the scene. We do need to see the doctor’s obsession—it’s integral to the plot later—but there’s already a scene where he’s recuperating in the hospital which, the way it’s written now, doesn’t really advance the story, so that information could be put there (Dr. Loomis rant-style). Michael can then just kill two random people in a gas station and boom, we’re off.

So, overall, if you’re on the fence about seeing this, don’t be. As long as you’re not expecting the original (remember, the original was a true groundbreaker), it’s not terrible, and it’s really a perfect seasonal date movie. Just don’t take it too seriously, and if you get a great audience? I can guarantee you’ll have a good time.

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About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in countless magazines and anthologies. She has received three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies, served as a co-editor for Read Short Fiction, has judged both writing and grant competitions and co-hosts the Dark Discussions Podcast. Her work Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole is a collection of ghost stories set in Disney Parks; her novel, Bad Apple, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She’s also a member of the New England Horror Writers Association. More info: www.kristipetersenschoonover.com

Posted on October 25, 2018, in Horror Movies and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I am looking forward to seeing.. thanks for your review. Love.. Carol

    On Thu, Oct 25, 2018, 17:02 KRISTI PETERSEN SCHOONOVER wrote:

    > kristipetersenschoonover posted: ” I’m not a professional film critic and > I don’t pretend to be, but I figured, since everyone is asking, I’d share a > few of my thoughts on the new Halloween. If you don’t like spoilers and > plan to see this movie, you may not want to read further (or,” >

  2. Yes, we’re going to see this. Date night!

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