Halloween kills off the previous sequels to focus on the trauma experienced by final girl Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), who has spent the last 40 years preparing for a rematch.
This retcon includes canon stating that Laurie is Michael Myer’s sister, which explained his obsession with her. The relationship was established not only in the sequels but also the Halloween television edit. Several new scenes were filmed to fill out the time slot. The word “sister” was written in blood on Michael’s cell door following his escape from the insane asylum.
The relationship is literally explained away in a meta moment between the characters. They dismiss it as a rumor that was started to make people feel safer because random killings are much scarier.
Time’s up for Michael Myers
Curtis connects the film to the #MeToo movement despite being written well before it.
“Ultimately as we are learning in so many areas, women are trying to take back the narrative in their own lives from men who have abused them, in myriad ways. And this is just one example of it,.” Curtis told People. “Trauma is a generational disease because it affects everyone in the family.”
That fateful Halloween night resulted in three generations of trauma: Laurie; Laurie’s daughter, Karen (Judy Greer); and Laurie’s granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak). Laurie’s relationship with her daughter is eerily similar to that between Sarah Connor and John Conner in Terminator 2. Karen is trained in firearms and hand-to-hand combat from childhood until she taken away from her mother and the two become estranged. Allyson seems oblivious and unsympathetic to the trauma her grandmother inflicted on her mother growing up. She continually attempts to get them to reconcile with no success. Only the impending danger brings them back together. Allyson is ultimately a superfluous character whose only real purpose is to provide a connection to the teens who are murdered.
The doctor is out to lunch
Dr. Ranbir Sartain (Haluk Bilginer) takes on the mantle of Michael’s psychiatrist but he’s no Loomis. He’s more Malcolm McDowell than Donald Pleasence. Dr. Sartain’s morbid interest in the slasher is purely selfish.
“There are many ways for tragedy and violence to change a victim. They can grow accustomed to always being afraid, in constant fear. They can grow weak. They can grow strong,” he explains. “But there’s also the other side. The effect on the victimizer. You see, this is what has intrigued me through my studies. How does a crime like Michael’s affect him. What’s that feeling? Is he on a random path or is he emotionally driven. Triggered by something. Perhaps some unheard marching orders imprinted on his very being. I want to know what he’s feeling. I want to know what pleasure he gets out of killing.”
The doctor’s unhealthy obsession is also demonstrated when he allows journalists Aaron Korey (Jefferson Hall) and Dana Haines (Rhian Rees) to interview Michael (Tony Moran). Aaron attempts to provoke a reaction by bringing out Michael’s mask but he doesn’t respond. However, the rest of inmates go crazy so much so that even Dana looks at Dr. Sartain as if waiting for him to stop it. Dr. Sartain continually shows that he will go to any length to get Michael to break his silence. What’s never explained is why. The character seems to be an effort to reiterate the randomness of evil.
Halloween less scary by the very nature of the film. Between its fearless empowered heroine and enamored experts it feels like watching an episode of Shark Week. Michael Myers becomes this thing that can be controlled and studied as opposed to the incomprehensible boogeyman.
There are a gratuitous amount of homages to other films in the franchise right from the start. A decomposed pumpkin comes back to life to recreate the opening credits complete with the same font. Once again Michael’s escape results in asylum inmates wandering around. He kills yet another garage mechanic for his jumpsuit. The journalist Dana meets her end in a restroom just like another woman nearly did in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later.
Michael kills an elderly woman in her kitchen for her butcher knife then goes after the girl next door just as she receives a phone call warning about the killer on the loose. Both scenes are call backs to Halloween 2.
P.J. Soles, who previously played Laurie’s friend Lynda, makes a cameo as Allyson’s teacher. She echoes the speech about fate that Laurie’s teacher gave her but this time Laurie menacingly stands outside her granddaughter’s classroom instead of Michael Myers.
Allyson’s friend, Vicky (Virginia Gardner), and her boyfriend Dave (Miles Robbins) mirror the deaths of Lynda and her boyfriend, Bob (John Michael Graham). Michael pinned Bob to a door with a butcher knife through the stomach despite the fact there’s no possible way the knife would be long enough to go through the door let along hold him up. Dave’s death is slightly more believable as the knife goes through his neck, which at least explains why he didn’t slump over. Michael originally wore a ghost costume to impersonate Bob before killing Lynda. This time he uses the costume to cover Vicky’s corpse.
There’s a role reversal of the iconic scene in which Laurie hides in the closet. Laurie goes on the offensive and searches the closet expecting Michael to be inside but what she discovers is Allyson’s father, Ray (Toby Huss), disposed of in the same manner as Lynda.
Michael ultimately killed by fire reminiscent of the Halloween 2 ending. However, a post credits scene featuring heavy breathing suggests he’s still alive. Another possibility for a Halloween sequel is teased in the last scene, in which the camera pans down to Allyson holding the butcher knife. The intent might be to set her up as the next final girl or perhaps even a female Michael Myers.
The real problem isn’t the non-stop references per se. It’s that they leave little room for original material. You’d be hard-pressed remember any deaths 40 minutes after the movie let alone 40 years. The only actual death that stands out is a decapitated cop turned into a jack o’ lantern.
Vicky even overshadows her own death when pranks Julian (Jibrail Nantambu) while babysitting him. She checks his bedroom for monsters and pretends to find a man hiding in the closet. Vicky asks him to leave but obviously there’s no response, which only makes it more creepy.
A cut above the rest
There’s still hope for some proper scares. Horror movies frequently have deleted scenes and alternate endings, and Halloween will be no exception. One of the trailers features Dana in an unused shower scene that’s interrupted when Michael pulls back the curtain. Presumably this is a dream sequence but it would have added a level of dread to her actual death. And then there are characters who are simply asking for it but inexplicably never get what’s coming to them.
Sheriff Barker (Omar Dorsey) literally laughs at the notion of cancelling Halloween after learning of Michael’s escape. He’s arguably responsible much of the carnage and yet he suffers no consequences, not even from the residents being murdered.
Allyson’s boyfriend, Cameron (Dylan Arnold), comes off as a total jerk. He gets drunk then kisses another girl. When Allyson confronts him about his drinking problem, he throws her phone in a bowl of dip. Neither the phone nor Cameron are seen again. His apparent survival is made more troubling in light of the death of Oscar (Drew Scheid). Allyson berates Oscar when he dares to make move on her while consoling her about Cameron. She calls him “pathetic” before leaving him to his fate.
Halloween might be a treat for those looking for female empowerment and emasculated males whose death count is nearly three times that of their counterparts. For everyone else it’s junk food, tasty but not very filling.