How the Strodes Honored the Past and Opened the Future of Halloween
The moment after seeing Halloween at TIFF, I was immediately squirming to talk about it with everyone everywhere. The time has finally come to do just that as virtually everyone and their babysitter has now seen the much-anticipated sequel. Halloween cut down the competition with a $33.3 million an opening day in October and raking in $77.5 million in the first weekend. Jamie Lee Curtis shattered dusty records paving the way for other women, including supporting actresses Judy Greer and Andi Matichak. As Curtis noted, the list includes the biggest horror movie opening with a female lead, biggest movie opening with a female lead over 55, and second biggest October movie opening ever. As a mega fan, this is what you hope from a franchise. For it to remain fun to watch and succeed every time it comes back.
OK. I’m going for one BOAST post. Biggest horror movie opening with a female lead.
Biggest movie opening with a female lead over 55.
Second biggest October movie opening ever.
Biggest Halloween opening ever #womengetthingsdone @halloweenmovie pic.twitter.com/DhUBy82z3U
— Jamie Lee Curtis (@jamieleecurtis) October 21, 2018
I waited for weeks to discuss Halloween in detail, so here come all the SPOILERS.
Director David Gordon Green and writer Danny McBride pull no punches here. We want to see Michael escape, cut down half the town, and have a face to face confrontation with Laurie and that is exactly what we g0t. Except for this time, she’s ready which is even more fun. We saw Laurie the survivor in 1978 and it was revelatory. Now we get to see Laurie the fighter and it’s even more fun. We know he’s coming. She knows he’s coming. How can we all be smart about beating him?
Well, bring Michael’s mask to him and sticking a recorder in his face isn’t a good place to start. How did Dana (Rhian Rees) and Aaron (Jefferson Hall) get that mask anyway? The two podcast reporters clearly share our fascination with Michael, but it’s never a good idea to get too close. They are, in fact, the perfect sacrificial lambs for the series. They’re interesting and enjoyable to watch as characters, but just annoying enough that it’s scary and satisfying to see them become victims. And so follows a whole host of other characters who are fun, funny, and perfect fodder for Michael’s rampage.
There is one point in the film that almost lost me and turned out to be one of the most exhilarating plot turns. I’m not sure how I fell for it, but Danny McBride, you are a sly one. In the second act, Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer), who we think has Dr. Loomis sentiments, turns out to be a Michael worshipper rather than a protector. That’s all good and well until his bloodlust overcomes him and he takes out Michael and assumes the role. This did not sit well with me. Michael isn’t just a spirit. He’s a person and only Michael can be the Shape. I internally cried foul and shock and disappointment overwhelmed me. Luckily, Michael feels the same. No one can replace him. He rose again, killed Sartain to an eruption of cheers resumed his stalking of Haddonfield.
A new featurette pulls back the curtain on John Carpenter’s relationship with Nick Castle and how they developed the character together. Castle even details how they came up with the original kitchen scene, a personal favorite. The chilling stares and curious head tilts were a collaboration of terror. That spirit is perfectly captured in the new film, which greatly contributes to its success.
The rest is powered by Strode magic. Laurie is someone we have cared so deeply about for so long that it is so moving to see her face again. She has lived a tragic life and the scars are painful, but she’s also survived and her struggle is uplifting. She never stopped fighting. Now joined by her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter (Andi Matichak), Laurie continues the fight for her family. Laurie spent her entire motherhood instilling survival skills in her daughter, but it has come at a cost in their relationship. However, when she is vindicated, it is explosive. Literally.
An audience member commented after the film that they loved seeing the knife end up in Curtis’ hand. “No, it ended up in her hand,” Curtis corrected pointing to Matichak. It was a moment of empowerment. A woman who had been terrorized by Michael for 40 years seized the power, then handed it off to someone she cared about. Although she was a little neurotic and it drove a wedge between her and daughter, Laurie’s love language is empowerment. She tried to teach the younger generation of Strodes to protect themselves and that was the most selfless thing she could do.
Whether Karen wanted to participate in her mother’s doomsday preparation or not, she was ready when the moment came. The entire house Karen had learned to survive in was revealed to be a trap. She shot Michael in the crucial moment and they were able to capture him in the basement setting the entire house and past ablaze.
Can Michael survive? He would have to for the franchise to continue. As previously noted, no one else can be the Shape. The previous Halloween sequels diverge into an exploration of Michael being supernatural. It can sometimes get weird and outrageous, but this installment cuts that out completely. Michael hasn’t left the criminal institution since the first film, and it doesn’t ever reference Michael as being supernatural at all. Dr. Loomis does agree with Laurie in the end that Michael was the ‘boogeyman,’ but what does that really mean?
The Strodes executed a pretty complete decimation of the Shape, so a supernatural thread would have to be reestablished to resurrect him. Unless McBride has another trick I don’t see coming. It has happened before. “The only thing scarier than being chased by Michael Myers is having to write a sequel to Halloween,” McBride said at the Toronto premiere. If another one is as scary good as this one, please start writing now.