There’s a really good movie buried somewhere in the flesh of Halloween (2018). Somewhere, tucked deep in the fat and chaff is a brilliant film about a broken family struggling to find normalcy. A family infamous in their small town, living in the shadow of trauma and death would be its own kind of horror long before the specter haunting them breaks loose. Instead, Halloween is just fine.
It’s exactly that: Just Fine. It’s well lit, fairly well shot, decently acted and reasonably paced. Few of the kills are particularly satisfying and some of them just don’t make very much sense. It’s all very fine that isn’t more than the sum of its parts. It’s fun and sometimes even very compelling but as a slasher, a horror movie, or even just a movie it’s entirely fine.
That’s disappointing, because it feels like a better movie exists without Michael Myers and Laurie Strode. This Halloween constantly tries to call back to an original film that increasingly is a distant thing that is talked about as a classic but also a movie people haven’t watched. Like Frankenstein or Dracula, horror films of a certain vintage are discussed but rarely directly interacted with and, 40 years later, the original Halloween is heavily trending in that direction.
In 2018, there was no need for a new Halloween movie. I fully believe the story that some guys sat around and thought “Ya know, it’s been a while.” That’s really how we got a new Halloween movie. That’s how we get most of these sequel homages. It’s how we end up mired in nostalgia for things that we don’t even remember anymore.
Halloween feels like a “fan movie” in the worst sense. I have a lot of respect for fans who tinker and take something far beyond the original creator. I write fanfiction sometimes. Secretly. But Halloween feels like fanfiction in the way that its trying to desperately to be like the original without any new ideas or direction. There’s not even any of the fun BS of fanfic like a random dragon or something. It’s just stale, polished mimicry. Like the plastic food outside a restaurant.
With a little more creativity and a lot more ability to fundraise it would have been fascinating to see this movie free from the bondage of nostalgia. Instead of spiritual successor with original characters that makes sly references to a prequel that never occurred, we’re stuck with a movie that shoehorns characters into a sequel with a 40-year time gap where mostly the same thing happens except one of the characters is old and paranoid.
Maybe in the end it’s just sad. It’s clear that David Gordon Green and Danny McBride really like the original. Maybe they even love it. But its also clear that they maybe should have just made a different movie. I don’t think the “legacy” of Halloween is worth preserving. Maybe it’s time to just let it go. Let all of the classics fade to the “Classic Horror” section of streaming services and let’s make mediocre movies about new things so we can at least say we tried something new.