Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Movie Review: Halloween 2018

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Final act, Laurie
Cons: Brutal, dropped storylines, stupid character
The Bottom Line:
Michael, Laurie back
In this big slasher sequel
That is just okay

Michael and Laurie Return, but the Suspense Doesn’t

So, if you follow my blog enough, you'll discover that I have a dark side.  Yes, I have a love/hate relationship with slashers.  No, I haven't reviewed every slasher film I've watched, but I have reviewed a few, mainly from the late 90's.  I haven't seen all the movies in the Halloween franchise, but I have watched the first one several times (and a variety of the sequels), so when I started hearing about the 2018 Halloween movie, I was intrigued.  The previews got me fully on board, and I made a rare trip to a theater to see a horror film.  (Most of the time when I do watch these movies, it's on my couch in the middle of the afternoon.  Yes, I'm a wimp.)  I fail to see quite why the film has received the raves it did.

This movie picks up after the first movie, pretending all the other sequels, reboots, etc., didn't happen.  (Think of all those people who died in vain!)  We first meet two podcast journalists (Rhian Rees and Jefferson Hall) who are working on what happened 40 years ago when Michael Meyer stalked and killed 5 people with Laurie Stode alone surviving.  They first visit the asylum where Michael has been since being recaptured that night and try to get a rise out of him, even showing his mask to him.  When that gets no reaction, they go to visit Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), who now lives alone in a survivalist compound out of town.  She's estranged from her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), son-in-law Ray (Toby Huss), and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matickak), who is a senior in high school.  It seems that Laurie's obsession with being ready to stop Michael once and for all has made her crazy, at least in most people's eyes if not in fact.

Michael is scheduled to be transferred to another facility right before Halloween.  And we all know where this is going.  There's a bus crash, and Michael is the only one of the inmates that they aren't able to recapture.  Soon, he's heading back to Haddonfield.  Will anyone survive his latest attack?

Now, let's be honest here, this is a slasher film.  Going into them, my expectations are reasonably low.  I mean, the genre isn't known for outstanding filmmaking.  Even so, the film has some rather obvious flaws.

Now, the formula for a slasher movie isn't that shocking.  We meet a group of characters, usually teenagers.  One by one, someone in a mask goes about killing them until there is a final confrontation.  How successful the movie is comes down to how well the characters are defined before they die and how well the tension is built as the film progresses.  We don't need a lot of extras in the way of storytelling.  But that's what we get here.  There are characters and at least one sub-plot that simply disappear as the movie goes along.  Maybe they hit the chopping block when the film was cut down by half an hour, but if so, it was a poor editing choice.

In that first movie (which is the only one we are saying exists now), Michael was in and out of the film early on, but we didn't know why.  And some people had close encounters with him that they walked away from.  That helped build the tension since we didn't know when and where he would strike.  All that is forgotten about here and Michael leaves a trail of brutalized corpses behind him.  I can't emphasize this enough - he is brutal.  There are only a couple of scenes that had any kind of suspense.  Instead, it's attack and brutalize.  All this left me not happily terrified but wishing things were over sooner.

And let's not even get started about the beyond stupid plot twist just before the third act.  Seriously, we get a character who is too stupid to live, and it made me want to scream at him.

So far, it's sounding like I didn't care for the film.  That's not entirely true.  I certainly enjoyed the call backs to the original and how some of them were flipped on their ear here.  That was a lot of fun.

I loved Laurie.  Even though they've changed their relationship from brother and sister to two random people, I still found Laurie and her connection to Michael the heart of this film, and her struggle to get anyone to take her seriously compelling.  I also loved Alyssa.  I must admit that Karen had to grow on me, but I grew to like her by the end.  Likewise, the acting is pretty good across the board, although these three women are definitely the stars of the film.

And that third act?  The best part of the movie.

There are attempts to break the tension with some laughter as the movie goes along.  Personally, I thought it worked, and I enjoyed most of those moments.

Usually, I wait for a slasher film to hit TV or at least Redbox before I indulge.  I was tempted to do that with Halloween 2018, and I wish I had.

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