October 21, 2018

Go BTS of David Gordon Green's Box Office Smash 'Halloween'

You were freaked out by 'Halloween' this weekend. Now see how it was made.

A direct sequel to the original 1978 film of the same name, David Gordon Green's Halloween wears its slasher fandom on its sleeve, and, if you grooved to the John Carpenter horror classic, that's a good thing. After all, if we're going to ignore the various sequels that flooded theaters through the 1980s, 90s, and 00s, might as well skew pretty close in tone and style to the original source material.

Direct references come a'plenty in this sequel that picks up forty years after the original, where masked serial killer Michael Myers returned to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois to stalk and murder babysitters on Halloween night. Remember that scene in which the young Laurie Strode, daydreaming in her high school English class as her teacher drones on and on about fate, notices Michael Myers staring back at her from across the street? That's redone in this new film, but with a twist! Remember Laurie telling the kids she was babysitting for in 1978 to do as she said? Well, she repeats that line in 2018, but with a twist! Remember Michael's tireless but fearful doctor, Sam Loomis, who came to the conclusion that his patient was simply and purely evil? Well, this new film also assigns Michael an obsessed doctor that's hot on his trail, but with a twist! The iconic shot that closes the original Halloween in which Michael's body is gone, implying that he never truly can be put down? That's redone in 2018, but with a twist!

If you appreciate the fan service, taking it as an adoring, loving homage by Green and co-writers Jeff Fradley and Danny McBride, then this latest edition, in which Myers returns to Haddonfield to pick up where he left off, has its charms. It can't come close to matching the haunting visual poetry of the original, but in its own funky way, it's a respectable way to dust off the menacing figure figuratively identified as The Shape. No, the opening Steadicam shot from the original in which a six-year-old Michael roams the family house before offing his older sister isn't replicated here, but a similar roaming camera shot, in which Michael takes a stroll through Haddonfield and kills two neighbors who live next door to one another, is an inspired update.  

Is there closure provided? Even for a Halloween movie, I'd vouch "no."

The first half of the film seeks to humanize Michael—more so than any other film in the franchise, this film puts Michael's human flesh front-and-center—and, while a subplot involving Michael's ability to verbally communicate goes nowhere, Green isn't against Michael spilling some very human blood of his own. If the film, with the addition of two foreign podcasters who specialize in true crime stories, occasionally feels like it's trying too hard to be modern, it's appreciated to see that the man and woman are taken seriously enough as characters, their fate possessing substantial meaning. It's a shame that their story comes to a close so quickly—when we meet the teenagers that make up Laurie Strode's granddaughter's circle of friends, they already have "Lunch Meat" written all over them—but this is Laurie's story after all, and Jamie Lee Curtis's performance as an alcohol-dependent, twice divorced grandma is particularly heartfelt even as it channels Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Is there closure provided? Even for a Halloween movie, I'd vouch "no," at least not as conclusive as Halloween: H20, the original "redux," from 1998. This new film has stakes to be sure, but Green's idea of finality comes with its own set of questions yet to be answered. Given the lasting nature of the franchise (and the incredible box office performance of his film over the past three days), Green's choice may be intentional. Can Michael ever truly die? Until he's six feet under, I have my doubts.

To get a behind-the-scenes look at how the film was made (complete with an on-set cameo by John Carpenter), check out this pretty fun and insightful video below. 

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