Let’s make one thing clear from the start, I do not enjoy watching horror films that much, I rarely go out of my way to watch one, I’m just not a huge fan of the genre. The reason? I won’t lie, it’s because I’m a massive wuss and I’d rather spend my time watching something else, not being scared.
I made an exception for Halloween, mainly due to the massive hype around it, I was genuinely intrigued about a horror film for the first time since Scream 4. So, did I enjoy it? Well, let me put it this way, if a horror film fails to unsettle or scare a self-proclaimed pansy like myself, then it has failed massively in my eyes. Unfortunately, Halloween falls into this category.
The reaction to this film has been quite polarising, and I think it’s important to note that I myself haven’t seen the 1978 Halloween for a very long time, and a lot of audiences may have never seen it at all, so I will be judging this film on it’s own merits and not constantly comparing it to the original, I’m not a die-hard fan of the franchise, and although I did notice some of the references and call backs to the original, they didn’t really have as much of an impact on me as they will on others.
Halloween is a direct sequel to the original 1978 film and it completely disregards and wipes any of the multiple films that came after from the canon. In this version, Michael Myers has been locked up for 40 years and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, reprising her role.) has spent the entirety of this time anticipating and preparing for his return, becoming this Sarah Connor-esque badass in the process.
Jamie Lee Curtis was the strongest aspect of this film in my eyes, she perfectly captured the PTSD that Laurie would rightfully be suffering from after the events of the original film. The situation is handled perfectly and it shows the real consequences that her confrontation with Michael had, causing her to have failed marriages and an estranged relationship with her family, notably her daughter, Karen. (Judy Greer) It was an interesting dynamic to see that, in a sense, the hunter has become the hunted. Her decades long obsession with the killer has gotten to the point that you feel that she wants this confrontation to happen. I would have liked for her to have had more screen time than she did.
Unfortunately, I felt that the rest of the film fell quite flat. Inevitably, of course, Michael Myers escapes imprisonment, gets his mask back (in one of many plot conveniences that just felt like incredibly lazy writing.) and continues where he left off, by killing lots of people.
But, none of it was scary, it wasn’t even tense. The marketing for this film has really let it down for one, because bar one or two kills, I had already seen every single kill in a trailer or TV spot. This immediately took away any sense of tension, because I knew what was coming. Whoever is in charge of distributing trailers for various films, please, I beg you, stop putting so much in them! It really spoils the experience.
But this isn’t the only flaw when it comes to the killing spree Michael embarks on, tonally, the film is all over the place. There are so many moments that should have been tense, even terrifying, but they are immediately followed by moments of forced, misplaced humour that just slaughter any sense of atmosphere that may have been there beforehand. I see this a lot with modern movies, and I don’t know why it keeps happening. Not every film needs to have a lot of comedy in it, especially not a film like Halloween. There is one scene in particular where there could be a good amount of tension built up, but it cuts to a scene with two police officers making quips about their food, it’s completely unnecessary and just diffuses any ounce of fear that the audience may be starting to feel.
The film also seemed to have a few side plots that don’t really go anywhere or add anything to the story, notably with Laurie’s granddaughter, Allyson. (Andi Matichak) We get a lot of time dedicated to her high school dance and her love life, it adds zero substance to the story and after the film I came out asking myself, why was it there? What did it add to the plot? Absolutely nothing. I don’t know if it was in an attempt to make us care for her more as we build towards the final act, which she does become involved in. But I was there to watch a horror film, I was there to see some brutality, not a teenage love drama. Every time this was on screen I was just internally begging the film to rush along to the next Michael Myers sequence. (In the hope that there was something that I hadn’t already seen in marketing, oh, how disappointed I was.)
As I said earlier, the script just felt incredibly lazy and the plot is riddled with a vast number of conveniences and inconsistencies to roll the story along. I discussed the film with a friend after watching it and we constantly kept asking ourselves: “Why did this happen?”, “Why didn’t X do this?”, etc. I understand that logic is not a common trait of horror films, but I was hoping for a little more substance. There were so many times where I felt like the story progressions could have been delivered in a much more poignant, meaningful manner, but it almost felt like the writers kept putting themselves in a corner and had to just roll with the wind and hope that the audience doesn’t question some of the completely illogical choices that characters make.
Now, the above could be forgivable, if the film lived up to it’s genre. But it didn’t, so I left the cinema completely underwhelmed, having seen what I felt to be a lazy, predictable, nonsensical “horror” film, that didn’t even scare me! Now that, I’m afraid, is quite unforgivable.
There are moments of brutality and tension in this film, and they are quite good. But they are fleeting, and rare, and often accompanied by misplaced, unwelcome comedy. I was constantly left wanting more, but more never really came, which was immensely frustrating, there’s nothing worse than wasted potential. I also probably would have enjoyed it more if I didn’t see every kill coming, so a lot of my negative feelings towards this film should actually be redirected towards the ridiculous marketing department that seemed intent on spoiling all the key moments.
I know people who are big fans of the original and loved this film, so perhaps this is more tailored to the die hard fans, rather than the casual like myself. I noticed a few elements of fan service and I’m sure there was a lot that I missed, so perhaps this is a better sequel than it is a horror film? Perhaps I’ll go back and watch the original at some point and see if my opinion changes, and revisit this somewhere down the line.
I will add one last positive, because it would be unfair of me not to mention it in this review and I don’t want to end with total negativity, John Carpenter’s score is absolutely fantastic, and he shows here why he is one of the finest composers of all time.
But for now, I think I’ll sum up my feelings by repeating what my friend said as soon as the credits began to roll at the end of the (rushed and underwhelming) final act:
I think that perfectly sums up Halloween, it’s not the worst film in the world, it’s just a bit meh.
I give Halloween a 5/10.