The Kev Cut: Halloween (2018)

I was prepared to like David Gordon Green and Danny McBride’s take on Michael Myers. A seminal horror villain that predates his fellow slasher icons Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees, he’s also managed to keep himself the most culturally relevant. The Halloween franchise is the set example of how slasher franchises work: first, there is John Carpenter’s iconic first entry, a movie that did so well that it created the rulebook for all of the copycats that would follow. Then a sequel that was flailing to find a reason to exist in the first place, finally propping up it’s more gruesome kills with the information that Michael and Laurie Strode are really brother and sister. The following sequels would limp on in vain, with the continuity of the franchise becoming more convoluted and silly. Then we had H20, a movie which I would have loved to be the end of the franchise. Sadly, H20 had the same problem as the current Halloween: it was too successful. Michael Myers can’t be fully defeated if he still makes bank.

After H20, and the franchise’s nadir, Halloween Resurrection, the franchise found itself in the hands of Rob Zombie who produced two movies that battled against the cult director’s best and worst qualities. The worst, as is usual for a Zombie movie that isn’t Lords of Salem, won out and Halloween needed to be updated and relevant again. Enter David Gordon Green and Danny McBride.

Halloween is a solid, unspectacular entry into the series. It wipes the timeline out completely in order to make itself a belated sequel to Carpenter’s film. Laurie has become a Sarah Connor of the suburbs, as she trains herself and her daughter (played by the typically wonderful and underrated Judy Greer) for what she sees as Michael’s inevitable escape and subsequent murder spree. You may remember that I put Halloween in my worst movies of the year list, and I stick by that as my reasoning lines up perfectly with the point of this article. It’s time that I fix this movie with one choice aided by a lack of pressure, budget, time, and four years’ worth of hindsight (check out my last Kev Cut article if you’d like to get a full run-down of what this entails!).

I’m here to fix the one unforgivable choice made by McBride and Gordon Green. Instead of Laurie randomly interrupting her estranged family’s dinner, which leads to Michael’s escape and her having to play catch-up for most of the runtime, I’m going to go one further: Laurie causes the crash. After spending years training for this night, it really doesn’t make sense for Laurie to leave her post on the night of his escape and try to fix things with her family. It feels like a lazy plot device that allows Michael to escape. This doesn’t make sense for the Laurie that the movie sets up.

Halloween uses a motif in which Laurie, older, wiser, and much more dangerous, mirrors a lot of Michael’s scenes from the first movie. This suggests that Michael’s darkness has infected Laurie and festered to the point where she needs this confrontation. This would also make Michael more of an active character – you can still have him killing babysitters but with Laurie’s actions there can be an intriguing cat-and-mouse between the two, a connection much stronger that the brother/sister angle that has been dropped. It would make Laurie less heroic, as she would be responsible for Michael’s murders, but it makes her character and the film much stronger as an allegory for abuse which in turn can fuel the generational trauma that trickles down to Laurie, her daughter, and her granddaughter. 

It’s a move that would have been too brave and controversial at the time. Look what happened to pop culture when Rian Johnson showed Luke Skywalker in a less-than-perfect light. Still, flaws are what make great characters, and I feel that this change in Laurie’s motivation would have made for a much more interesting film. Don’t hire Jamie Lee Curtis unless you’ve got a meaty role for her.

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By Kevin Boyle

(header image via Vanity Fair)

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