By Alex Gehrlein ’19
It’s that time of the year again, depending on when this comes out, and as the movie reviewer, I’m obligated to tell you about a horror movie. The first horror movie I ever saw was Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. I was nine, over at a friends house, and scared out of my mind. From that moment forward I’ve had a connection to the Halloween franchise. I’ve seen every film in the franchise and would hold it above any other slasher giant. And seeing the promotional materials for this film, I have to admit I was excited. I cannot stand Rob Zombie’s remakes, and have been waiting a while for a competent, well thought out, modern take on the classic material.
And this movie was certainly competent. You can’t expect too much out of a horror movie these days, but even then there is a certain standard that should be reached for (think Oculus, or Get Out). The film’s greatest strength is in the cinematography, which was genuinely impressive at times. A long take, no holds barred walk through the suburbs weaving in and out of people’s houses certainly comes to mind, but even the way that the more bland close-ups and establishing shots are put together serve to add an extra layer to the film’s visual horror.
This film was certainly modern. The main characters of the first act are a pair of podcasters investigating the Myers murders. The characters are more reflective of today’s youth, not falling in to the tired cliches that plague many slasher films of Halloween’s era. You won’t find the clumsy “let’s all split up and look for clues” kind of logic that previous films would have done, but instead see an accurate reaction to the events as if a real person were put in that situation. This is the result of films like Scream, a much better movie, which lampooned these tropes to the point where no horror movie trying to be anything above mediocre would attempt them.
Where this film slips up is the planning; it is not well thought out. McBride and Green have written one of the worst scripts in the Halloween franchise, and that’s saying something. It was a genuinely surreal experience to see such a well shot film have dialogue this bad. Take this gem for example (slight spoilers):
Allyson Strode: Everyone in my family, like, turns into a nutcase this time of year.
Vicky: I mean, your grandmother is Laurie Strode. She was almost murdered.
Oscar: Wasn’t it her brother who murdered all those babysitters?
Allyson Strode: No. He was not her brother, that’s something that people made up.
Trust me, it doesn’t get worse when you hear them say it. The first third of this movie is so bad because this script is allowed to run wild without being reigned in by growing tension. I’m not saying the dialogue in John Carpenter’s original was perfect, but it was balanced properly with the right amount of short glimpses, heavy breathing, and dark shadows we’ve come to associate with the franchise.
This movie goes in the wrong direction, bringing it to the point of comedy in some scenes, and what’s worse is that the comedy is some of the best stuff in the movie (probably because it’s written by Danny McBride, who you might know from Pineapple Express), but it isn’t what’s best for a Halloween movie. That’s what the writers don’t seem to understand, is that the worst stuff in the entire franchise is when sloppy attempts to bring in humor kill the tone of the movie (see Halloween: Resurrection).
If you like Halloween as a franchise, see this movie. If you like Carpenter’s Halloween as a film, be cautious.