Halloween 2018 (The Devil’s Eyes)

HalloweenThe momentum leading up to the release within the horror community was palpable. You have to understand that it wasn’t just as though people were casually mentioning it here and there. I don’t think, for the last year I’ve not gone a day without seeing someone on social media or in person talking about it. This has a lot to do with Blumhouse knowing exactly how to sell a picture. Jason Blum and his production company have ruled the roost when it comes to horror for easily the last ten years. Although certain horror die-hards bristle at what is perceived as the “Blumhouse Model” for films. It’s undeniable that they have brought more success and money to horror not seen since the old Universal, Hammer or New Line days. It’s fun that this film was actually distributed along with Universal.

But another Halloween sequel? They have their work cut out for them. How do you go about including another entry into what was at various times referred to as “The grandfather of slashers” The “perfect slasher” The “quintessential slasher movie.” God knows people have tried.  Before its release there had been ten films released, featuring everyone’s favorite Shatner-masked killer. Technically nine because of Season of The Witch, but I digress.  Every one of those films has a stalwart who will die on a mountain to defend it.  So it was a losing battle from the start. Maybe fans were just tired of Michael Myers? Hardly.


It was never that fans were tired of Michael Myers. It was the context in which we see him. First, you attach the original writer, director and composer John Carpenter to executive produce and compose a new score.  Then you add original star, Jamie Lee Curtis. Finally, you add a dash of the original Shape actor, Nick Castle. Serve it up while you ignore all previous continuities and say it’s a direct sequel to the 1978 original. Even casual fans perked up their ears. Blumhouse had our collective genitalia in a vice and they knew it.

From the moment all of this was announced, with every name, every promotional photo, every release of another statement, or interview. Fans were frothing at the mouths for this movie.  All that is well and good you’re saying. But, is the movie actually any good? Yes.

Sitting in a packed theater on a friday night, to watch a slasher movie isn’t something I’m accustomed to. Slashers while still made are hardly the flavour of the moment. For example I was sitting by myself in a theater for The Strangers 2.  Not this time. The crowd was full of young and old. Die-hard fans showing up in their Fright-Rags Halloween T-shirts. The elderly who clearly remember the original film from 1978. Young people who I gleaned from their conversations, knew that there was a previous movie but had never seen it.

The opening sequence takes place in a mental institution, we’ve seen this scene from the trailers so not a major spoiler. Two podcast “journalists” are attempting to get any reaction from the patient Michael Myers who’s been a near catatonic since that fateful night 40 years prior.

You’d almost think this film could be anything at this point. It even has the gritty realistic and mental institution heavy vibes of Rob Zombie’s remakes.  We’re about to get abruptly pulled back down to earth. The opening credits hit us and it’s like I’ve just been shown a lost slasher from the 70s for the first time. The score, the font, the pumpkin. The names in the credits. Holy fucking shit, I missed this.

The meat of the story is lean and economical. Laurie has been suffering from heavy PTSD since that night in 1978. She is a grandmother now. After two failed marriages, she is estranged from her daughter because she attempted to raise her as a survivalist. Trapmaking, gun shooting, living in a fortress type home.  Michael Myers awakes from his trance-like state, escapes a bus transferring him to another facility and returns to Haddonfield, Illinois.

Front and center is Jamie Lee Curtis. This is her picture, make no mistake. This is a story of a very broken woman who hasn’t gotten over it. There is an interesting theme of various characters saying that what she went through wasn’t that bad, both speaking about the unfortunate chorus of real-life criticisms survivors with PTSD go through and also the younger generations comments of the old guard slashers not being that scary compared to their realities.

Watching the film I couldn’t help noticing, especially in these modern times, how oddly conservative the script comes off. Anyone spouting peace and love, happiness and apathy towards the evils of the world are promptly seen as delusional and in a world with Michael Myers in it, foolish.  Therapy, federal institutions and understanding are useless against the dark realities of the world. A world with no room for high minded ideals. There are only predators and prey.

Even, Michael’s doctor, Dr. Sartain is ineffectual and ultimately just as easily susceptible to being consumed by the darkness of Myers.

The kills in the film are great, gory and numerous and fans will rejoice (many in the theater did in fact cheer) at the many nods to the series as a whole. I look forward to watching this again to try and spot more. Carpenter’s score? What can I say? It maintains its classic sensibilities while being infused with more dread. Some portions even sound like a deep, distant Klaxon howl that warns us of a catastrophic event approaching.

What makes this film so effective is exactly the reason why it got so hyped in the first place. 10 sequels and continuity to wrestle with is a tall order for anyone. Especially since it served to give purpose to a thing that has no purpose other than killing. For some reason, in my opinion, filmmakers have been trying to make a simple story more complicated and failing every time. I’m not saying every sequel is bad, far from it. But compared to the original? What was Carpenter doing that everyone else wasn’t? The answer is he never tried to pretend the shape was anything other than unidentifiable evil.

I’ve often been asked by friends what I think Michael Myers is. Most other slashers in the unholy trinity (Jason, Freddy) have an explanation as to why they seem indestructible, powerful, and relentless.

Loomis in the original would tell us everything we need to know. He is purely and simply, Evil. That doesn’t seem to satisfy people Or at least people in charge of the movies. They make it about family or curses. They give Myers a back-story, they do everything but let him be. His being, is nothingness. The blackest eyes, the Devil’s eyes. Remember?

This movie allows Myers to be what he is. Purely and simply, evil. He isn’t a man, he has no motivation, he won’t allow you to analyze him or understand him or sympathize with him. He is a force of nature. He is the coming storm. He is nothing.  There is a slick sensibility about him. Realistically, we’re talking about a killer who is by now in his 60s. He manhandles people, takes damage that would put down someone half his age. Really brutal stuff in some cases.

This time he faces three generations of the Strode women. Laurie is ready and waiting. The climax is imperfect but somehow left me wanting more. In a way we watch these films hoping for extreme plans to fail in the face of things people don’t understand. The irony is that nobody in the film really seems to understand what Myers is. Except for Laurie, and of course, Blumhouse. That’s why they were so prepared.

Go see it.

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