Halloween ★★

David Gordon Green's 2018 sequel to Halloween is as comme ci, comme ça as I expected it to be: mildly diverting, not something I would ever watch a second time. Truly, this is the Doctor Who of horror franchises; so much regeneration. Why does Laurie Strode even still live in Haddonfield, IL? To be fair, I guess the series tried to change that with Halloween H20 (which I enjoy because hey, LL Cool J can improve even the most idiotic movies) by moving her out to California, though it didn't matter since Michael Myers found her there too.

Generational trauma is a worthwhile theme to tackle, but it would mean more if this Halloween installment had a halfway decent screenplay. You get the same cookie-cutter teenagers being slain after hooking up, disbelievers quickly converted once they see Michael approach and, intentional or not, a #MeToo theme so heavy-handed that Laurie literally says "time's up" to the pretentious podcasters who try to interview her about the harrowing ordeal from forty years earlier. (Green's previous film, the biopic Stronger, was similarly unsubtle and clichéd in its storytelling.) There's probably no better representation of the film's frustrating qualities than this review's succinct distillation, which leads to a back-and-forth of sound and fury between dudes in the comments section.

By erasing the past history of sequels (whichever ones you like; take your pick), Michael reverts to being a generic manifestation of pure evil, a blank slate on which the victims can project any and all fears. I wouldn't mind MM's transformation from human being to supernatural predator over the years if only he had a personality; I find it easier to accept Freddy Krueger returning in film after film, for example, because his backstory and personality make him compelling even in the dumbest plot lines. Freddy has a specific motivation fueling his endless desire for revenge, whereas Michael's urge to kill shifts depending on which story you're watching. I'll repeat my refrain from another review and state that Halloween 4 is the best of the films, discussing family ties and a legacy of pain while building to a genuinely disturbing conclusion.

To my disappointment, three out of the four most interesting supporting characters in Halloween '18 were whisked out of the film without a proper exit. First is the cemetery caretaker (Diva Tyler) who rolls her eyes as the podcasters record pompous utterances in front of Judith Myers' tombstone; then there's Cameron Elam (Dylan Arnold) - or as I said when I saw him, "hey, it's the virgin guy from After!" - as the cheating boyfriend of Laurie's granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak); then, one of Allyson's friends' babysitting assignments, Julian (Jibrail Nantambu), a smart aleck kid who has cool animal-print wallpaper in his bedroom and doesn't mind clipping his toenails when need be; last, there's Laurie's son-in-law Ray (Toby Huss), who isn't necessarily likeable on paper but is made better for having been portrayed by Huss. I'm sure David Gordon Green and fellow screenwriters Jeff Fradley and Danny McBride intentionally left a few loose ends because they planned on continuing the story in Halloween Kills, but if Halloween is judged solely on its own narrative merits, those hanging threads just look like mistakes.

Well, at least the end credits' remixed theme makes me feel like I'm at the midnight party I might have attended if COVID weren't a thing.

P.S. If you think that I ended October 31 on a flat note, worry not: I'm exactly the kind of freak who would know off the top of my head which SVU episodes are the most unsettling, and the one that automatically comes to mind is "Pique" - what could be scarier than Chad Lowe as a murderer with mommy issues, especially when Mom is played by Margot Kidder?
P.P.S. Love that Nick Castle is still playing the Shape. Shoutout to his weird but fun film Tag: The Assassination Game!

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