Warning: the following is written by a Laurie Strode fanboy who’s as giddy as a soccer mom cheering on John Cena.
With just a couple of days until the nationwide release of David Gordon Green’s Halloween, the direct sequel to the John Carpenter classic forty years in the making, this writer was able to attend a private screening for the upcoming film. Sitting in the theater, awaiting the lowering of the house lights, this writer’s brain ran through the events of the first film and how they would be dealt with in this film. With every film from 1981’s Halloween II through to Halloween: Resurrection and Rob Zombie’s reimagined films playing no part in this story arch, this Halloween fan was curious, excited and anxious to witness what Danny McBride, Jeff Fradley, and David Gordon Green had conjured up in their screenplay.
This writer was not disappointed.
In the opening of the film, we are introduced to Aaron Korey (Jefferson Hall) and Dana Haines (Rhian Rees), true crime podcasters who have visited Smith’s Grove Rehabilitation Center for one purpose: to interview serial killer Michael Myers (played by original actor Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney) who has been held in captivity since his capture that fateful night in 1978. Trying to squeeze a reaction out of Myers, Korey reveals that he has Myer’s mask and uses it to tempt Myers to speak. As Korey continuously demands Myers to say something, the film cuts to the opening credits. Those credits are in the same style as Carpenter’s classic by using the original color and font while presenting a time-lapse of a destroyed Jack-O-Lantern reforming to its original state. This is where the giddiness set in.
The podcasters make their way to the home of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, reprising the role that made her a household name), who now lives in a maximum security home complete with huge fence, electric gate and speaker box to request to be let in. Here, we are presented with a different Laurie. Whereas the classic presented the viewer with high school senior Laurie, the girl who was book smart, shy and unaware of the evils in the world, this Laurie is much darker. She’s a gun-toting survivor who hasn’t let go of what happened to her. Myers is about to be transferred to a different hospital and she will lose the chance to vent to him face to face. There is a pain deep inside Laurie that will never go away, no matter how much alcohol she drinks or how often she holds target practice on the mannequins on her property. Even in captivity, Michael has a firm grip on Laurie’s life and she’s lost her chance to break free from his hold.
However, this is, after all, a Halloween film. There is an accident during the transport. Michael Myers has escaped and he is headed to his hometown of Haddonfield.
From this moment on, Laurie does everything she can to prepare herself and attempt to protect her estranged daughter and granddaughter from the terror that is potentially on its way. Curtis did an amazing job of evolving Laurie into this paranoid, battle-ready survivor who is no longer interested in living in fear. Michael’s escape reignites the fire inside her. A fire that has hoped for this day to come. The day where she would finally have the chance to kill Michael Myers.
It’s a character development that fits perfectly in the era of the MeToo Movement. Laurie sees this as the chance to take back the night that changed her entire life forty years prior. In what could easily be compared to Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Curtis’ 2018 Laurie Strode has been preparing her entire life for this one definitive moment where she will confront and attempt to kill the man who assaulted her those many years ago.
Additional support in this cast comes from the other Strode women, daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). Though estranged, it will be this Halloween night where these two will have to trust their extreme Matriarch. Greer does a great job of showing a daughter who has had to live with her mom’s “craziness” and is fed up with it up until the point where she realizes the horror her mother has been warning her about has arrived. Meanwhile, newcomer Matichak holds her own as Strode’s granddaughter, embracing the next generation “final girl” up to the point where she takes a few pointers from her grandmother. Make no mistake about it; as horrifying as Michael is, leaving a trail of blood and terror behind him, this film’s focus is the strength of our female trio. It is the last stand of Laurie Strode as she stays true to who she was forty years ago, the protector fighting off a demented force of nature.
McBride, Fradley, and Green developed a screenplay that pays an excellent homage to the classic while also taking it in their own direction. A direction that makes sense with what was penned before them by John Carpenter and Debra Hill. Green’s vision along with the shots by cinematographer Michael Simmonds present us with a Haddonfield that battles between small-town comfort and eerie killing field. The sweeping shot of Michael’s first kills in the town is incredibly done, containing the same feel of the opening scenes of Carpenter’s classic and the ’81 sequel. John Carpenter’s score, in which he teamed up with son Cody and godson Daniel A. Davies, drives the tension perfectly in so many scenes, just like he did in the original film. All these elements build up to an epic finale that leaves the audience gasping, screaming and cheering all within seconds of each other.
There is no denying the iconic status of Michael Myers, but this writer will argue that, when combining this film and the classic, Laurie Strode is equally deserving of that status. She is the character that spawned the “final girl” title. She is the counter to Michael’s evil. She is the resistance to his chaotic horror. She is determined in her fate to have this final confrontation with Michael and to do so fighting to the very end. She will not cower. She will not quit. Laurie Strode takes back her life on her terms and it’s bloody beautiful. Just when this writer thought his love for Laurie couldn’t be any greater, this film did just that. If Carpenter’s Halloween presents the horrific reign of Michael Myers, Green’s Halloween is the righteous reckoning of Laurie Strode.
So, just in case it still isn’t clear to you: I LOVED THIS FILM.