Halloween: Progress or Pitfall?
by Taylor Synclair Goethe | published Dec. 11th, 2018
"Halloween" (2018) is a remake of a remake of a remake. But what makes it unique is that Laurie Strode, the original heroine of the Halloween franchise, faces off with Michael Myers once again on the 40th anniversary of the original murders. This time she is aided by her daughter Karen, and granddaughter Allyson.
You might as well swipe "Halloween" two through five, as well as "Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers," "Halloween H20: 20 Years Later" and "Halloween: Resurrection," from your memory. The only movie that matters to this reboot is the first one in which Laurie, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, was the only survivor after five of her friends were brutally murdered. Now, in the 2018 reboot, Curtis returns as a 55-year-old bitter trauma survivor who has been preparing for decades to get revenge on Myers.
Although the holiday of Halloween has long passed, the "Halloween" film will be important for years to come. Described by Curtis as a #MeToo movie, "Halloween" has a trailblazing female-led cast. Horror movies have often been critiqued for misogyny because of their not only gruesome, but often sexualized murders of women. Even in horror movies where the lead actor is female, she is often powerless. In the 2018 "Halloween" film, however, the women fight back.
The mother, daughter and granddaughter are hunting Mike Myers instead of being victims of tragedy. The agency and confidence that these characters project is a refreshing twist on a genre that often leaves women helpless and traumatized. Yet, despite all the progress for women's representation, the plot leaves much to be desired.
Warning: Major spoilers ahead!
The plot begins with two podcast hosts (in an attempt to be hip with the young people) who are covering a story on the Michael Myers murders 40 years ago. Somehow, they not only get access to the maximum security prison where Myers is held, but they also get to speak with Myers, who only ignores them. In order to initiate a response from him, they present him with his mask — since podcast hosts totally have clearance for evidence in high profile trials. The scene then cuts to Allyson, who the audience later learns is the granddaughter of Laurie.
Laurie is a recluse who lives in a high-security and heavily-armored cabin in the woods. The story reveals she had lost custody of her daughter, Karen, when she was 12. Ever since that time, Karen has had a rocky relationship with her mother. Everyone — from her family, to the police and the podcasters — asks Laurie why she can’t seem to move on. Laurie insists that she cannot rest until the evil of Michael Myers is brought to an end.
The story then progresses into a bunch of drama about the family and Allyson’s boyfriend. However, the main action finally picks up when, after trying to transport Myers to a new prison (for some reason on the night before Halloween), the bus crashes, freeing Myers.
Honestly, this is where the movie loses me. Even with the explanation that the evil psychiatrist wanted to free Myers to study him in the field (weird, but okay), I don’t buy the psychiatrist's ability to do so. How did he convince anyone that Myers, after 40 years, needed to be transferred on the anniversary of the murders? How did he take down a bus and free dozens of prisoners without getting shot by the armed guard who was alive the next scene? It seems as though the movie was so excited for a reunion that it no longer cared how it got there. Afterwards, there was a string of coincidences that just didn’t add up.
After escaping, Michael Myers wanders aimlessly until dawn: Halloween day. You may be wondering how, in broad daylight, a 6-foot-something man in a prison jumpsuit isn’t noticed. Never fear, there’s a mechanic who is Myers's exact size and he can swap his jumpsuit. And oh, what a coincidence:it’s the same jumpsuit that Myers wore in the first movie.
After going on a mini murder spree, he stumbles upon the podcasters' car (never mind how he knew that it was theirs) and gets his mask back. However, the most unbelievable aspect of the film was the reunion between Laurie and Michael.
A major motif for the first film is that Laurie and Michael are in a perpetual cat and mouse game. Yet in this film, it's flipped. Laurie is the one with the upperhand and hunting Michael. This motif is flawed, because in order to have a true cat and mouse relationship, there has to be some mutual willingness to participate. Yet, Myers isn't really an active participant in this game of chase, he's just along for the ride — literally. Myers didn't even find Laurie. He was driven against his will to her house. Why? Myers has no need to purposefully hunt anyone because the main character trait of Michael Myers is that he is pure evil and kills randomly. This is why when he's first freed, he just goes door to door murdering people. He wants to kill, and any notion of preference to who he murders is counter to his characterization.
Since Myers clearly wasn't targeting Laurie at all, the whole platform that this film stands on is one giant plothole. MICHAEL MYERS KILLS ANYONE HE GETS HIS HANDS ON! In one of the earlier scenes in the movie, he snapped an eight year old's neck, so he has no qualms about killing a 55-year-old grandma. So the entire premise of a 40-year cat and mouse chase and a long-awaited reunion is hogwash. There's no indication that Myers even recognized who Laurie was to begin with.
The movie seems to be counter-intuitive to itself because the message is supposed to be that Laurie was right to prepare for Myers. But it was really all a fluke based on one deranged psychiatrist and a string of impossible coincidences that gave us the final boss battle.
However, that's not the kicker! The movie ends with Laurie leading Myers to the basement which, continuing the motif of cat and mouse, is really a trap. The basement is an elaborate ruse to burn Myers alive. Never mind that she had a gun and could've shot him in the head, but I digress.
In the last shot of the flames, Myers is no longer seen standing in the basement — which means he probably escaped. Which then means there's going to be a sequel. This shows that the filmmakers didn't actually care about finishing the story, but wanted to reboot the franchise for another cash grab. Which finally means we're going to get 10 more awful sequels. Celebrating Halloween just became less exciting.
But awful storyline aside, this film is a good watch for anyone who has become tired of the awful tropes women play in the horror genre. You'll enjoy the film for its positive message about the strength that women can have, even as you suffer through the weakness of the plot.