“Are you afraid of the Boogeyman? You should be.” — Laurie Strode, sole Michael Myers survivor
If you’re reading this, you know who the Boogeyman is: Michael Myers. (If you don’t, stop reading, call your parents, and berate them for not giving you a good childhood.) The original Halloween made its debut in 1978, cementing itself as one of the greatest horror films of all time. It opened the floodgates to countless slasher knockoffs and blessed us with horror icons such as Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger. It also spawned now 11 sequels, reboots, and reimaginings, with only a few being worth a watch, either for nostalgia or because they’re so bad they’re fun. (Rob Zombie’s “reimagining” diptych can burn in hell.) After countless duds, David Gordon Green’s Halloween is finally the sequel that John Carpenter’s slasher flick deserves. It’s scary as hell and gives the Laurie-Michael feud a finale that fans deserve.
By the way: 1998’s Halloween: H20 previously brought back Curtis as Laurie. I saw that film in theaters three times in one day and still love it despite its plot inconsistencies and mask troubles. I will fight you if you say it’s a bad movie. (Note: You must be shorter than five feet and weigh less than 100 pounds.)
Green’s Halloween is a direct sequel to Carpenter’s, erasing all the other films from the original’s canon. This means Michael Myers and Laurie Strode are not blood relatives anymore, and she is very much alive. If you’re panicking like I did when I learned the former, don’t worry, Michael’s determination to rip Laurie’s head off is as sharp as the knife Myers uses to butcher his victims.
The new film picks up 40 years after the original. Michael has since been locked up in maximum security at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, having been arrested shortly after falling off that balcony. The once-innocent girl next door Laurie has spent her life training in combat and firearms and building her own security compound for Michael’s inevitable return. In the meantime, she lost custody of her daughter Karen (played as an adult by Judy Greer) because she spent too much time training her daughter to kill a psychopath who may or may not come for her one day. The town thinks Laurie’s crazy, and adult Karen doesn’t want her mother anywhere near her or her own daughter (Andi Matichak). When Michael escapes and slides on his wicked mask (the original one from 1978, but crusty, cracked, deteriorated from aging, and with a hole where Laurie poked him in the neck long ago), he wastes no time crushing skulls, ripping out teeth, and butchering every unlucky soul in his path.
The script is co-written by Danny McBride (yes, that Danny McBride), Jeff Fradley, and Green. The film is very clever, terrifying, and the most violent Halloween I’ve ever seen, and yet most of Michael’s offscreen kills are the most bloodcurdling. Green also pulls off something unconventional for diehard fans of all of the Halloween films. Even though they’re no longer canon, he salutes every Halloween film made by peppering popular moments from those movies liberally throughout the film.
This is Green’s first stab at directing horror and hopefully will not be his last. From the opening credits that mimic Carpenter’s Halloween (and a really cool use of a rotted pumpkin coming back to life while the credits roll) to the set design of the doomed town of Haddonfield, Ill., the film looks as if we time warped right back to 1978. He also did a terrific job showing us Michael has aged (he’s now like 76) but is still a colossal threat. Maybe it’s his rage or a new strain of Viagra, but he is still able to pick up 160+ pound humans and impale them into walls.
However, the filmmakers demonstrate that Laurie is legitimately dangerous to Michael and other people. There’s a moment in the film when someone says they want to “track down the monster’s counterpart.” The counterpart is Laurie, and she’s called that because her rage and 40-year determination to kill Michael makes her an equal match for him. He learns rather quickly she no longer fears the reaper when they reunite, and that he needs a new bag of tricks if he wants to be the last one standing.
After 40 years of filmmakers trying to cash in on Michael Myers, we finally get the sequel that respects the original, will make you squeal, clap, and leave the theater completely satisfied. This is the Michael Myers we have missed. Welcome back, Boogeyman.
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis. Directed by David Gordon Green. Written by David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, and Jeff Fradley. Rated R.