The Halloween (2018) episode of WTF Happened to This Horror Movie? was Written and Narrated by Jason Hewlett, Edited by Jaime Vasquez, Produced by Lance Vlcek and John Fallon, and Executive Produced by Berge Garabedian.
When it comes to horror franchises the Halloween series is a bit like Chewbacca; it doesn’t make a lot of sense narratively unless you really understand what is going on. That’s right, you just heard a Star Wars reference in a video about a Halloween movie. Just roll with it… Technically the Halloween films are four different stories and one one-off tale told over the course of thirteen films, if my math is right away. Only one of these narrative shifts seems to have been done for creative reasons while the rest were undertaken in an effort to continue the series and make more money from the Halloween brand. If this sounds cynical to you, well, perhaps it is a little bit. But there’s still plenty of good storytelling going on here, most recently in David Gordon Green’s trilogy of films which kicked off in 2018 on the 40th anniversary of John Carpenter’s classic. That’s right, we’re taking a look at Halloween 2018 (watch it HERE) and attempting to find out WTF Happened to this Horror Movie!
The long road to David Gordon Green’s reboot/sequel to John Carpenter’s Halloween started shortly after the release of Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 in 2009. Zombie had such a terrible experience making his two films for the Weinstein owned Dimension Films that he had no intention of making a Halloween 3 for them. Despite that, Halloween 3D was announced days after his Halloween 2 hit theatres. Suffice to say, Halloween 3D was never made. Nor were many other potential sequels or recalibrations from a slew of screenwriters and filmmakers, including Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer. A whole series of videos could be made about these films, but I’d recommend giving Dustin McNeill and Travis Mullins Taking Shape 2: The Lost Halloween Sequels a read to fill in the blanks. It’s really an excellent book.
With no new Halloween movie in theatres, Dimension films lost the rights the franchise in 2015. Less than a year later Blumhouse Productions and Miramax announced they’d be co-financing a new film with Universal Studios distributing it. Blumhouse CEO Jason Blum said at the time that the original Halloween was a great influence on himself and his company. Carpenter signed on to the project as an executive producer in 2016 saying “thirty-eight years after the original Halloween, I’m going to help to try and make the 10th sequel the scariest of them all.” Having Carpenter involved excited many Halloween fans, including yours truly. He’d washed his hands of the series after the commercial failure of Halloween 3: Season of the Witch and has gone on the record saying he hadn’t even watched the films that followed. What would a new Halloween movie with his involvement look like?
The answer started to take shape – see what I did there — in February of 2017 when David Gordon Green and Danny McBride, best known for comedies like Pineapple Express and Your Highness, came on board to handle the screenwriting duties, with Green also directing the film, under Carpenter’s advisement. The new Halloween would continue the continuity of the original film and essentially ignore the other movies, but still pay homage to them. McBride said “There’s so many different versions, and the timeline is so mixed up, we just thought it would be easier to go back to the source and continue it from there. It was nicer than knowing you’re working on Halloween 11, it just seemed cooler, ‘we’re making Halloween 2’.”
Eight drafts of the script were written, with rewrites taking place right up until shooting. One version reimagined the ending of the original movie, with Michael Myers killing Loomis before Laurie shoots him off the balcony. That ending never made the final draft. Another script had Laurie’s daughter, Jamie, from the original series continuity included in the story but she was eventually rewritten as Karen, who was played by Judy Greer in the finished film.
The big news came in September 2017 when Jamie Lee Curtis confirmed she would reprise her role as Laurie Strode. This time, she wouldn’t be Michael Myers’ sister, as was revealed in Carpenter’s script for the original Halloween 2. The idea instead was to return Myers to his role as The Shape, a force of nature who just happened to pick Laurie and her friends as random victims. In this writer’s opinion, a wise move as Michael was always more frightening without an agenda.
A few months later it was announced that Nick Castle, who played Michael Myers in the original film, would once again don the William Shatner mask as The Shape. Stuntman James Jude Courtney would also portray the character. The rest of the cast includes Andi Matichak as Laurie granddaughter Allyson, Dylan Arnold as her boyfriend Cameron, Will Patton as Officer Hawkins and Haluk Bilgioner as Dr. Sartain, a replacement Loomis, as Laurie describes him, although with more sinister intentions…
Much like The Force Awakens – yup, another Star Wars reference – Halloween 2018 is one-part remake of the original film while still being a sequel, bringing back original cast members while introducing a new roster of characters. Continuing the story but following many of the beats of the first film. This both honored fans of the first film, while introducing the story and characters to a generation who probably hadn’t watched the classic.
It’s October 29, 2018, and infamous serial killer Michael Myers has been institutionalized at Smith’s Grove Psychiatric Hospital for 40 years following his Halloween killing spree in Haddonfield. Before he is transferred to a maximum-security prison, true crime podcasters Aaron and Dana visit the hospital and, during their encounter, Aaron displays the mask that Michael wore in 1978 to him, to no effect. Meanwhile, in Haddonfield, Laurie, the only survivor of The Shape’s killing spree, hasn’t overcome the trauma of that encounter. She drinks heavily and rarely leaves her heavily fortified house. She has a strained relationship with her daughter Karen, whom the state took away from her when Karen was 12. However, Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson tries to maintain a relationship with her grandmother. On October 30th, as Michael is being transferred, the bus crashes and patients begin to wander into the road. The accident causes a father and son to stop to see what is happening. Michael murders them both, takes their truck, and returns to Haddonfield.
On the morning of October 31, Michael sees Aaron and Dana visiting his sister Judith’s grave. He follows them to a gas station where he kills them both, as well as a mechanic for his coveralls, and discovers his mask in Aaron’s car. The rest of the film details Michael’s killing spree until he eventually crosses paths with Allyson and then has a final confrontation with his original, intended victim – Laurie Strode.
How Michael and Laurie are reunited is the film’s weakest plot point. Spoiler alert, it turns out Dr. Sartain, Michael’s psychiatrist and a former student of Dr. Sam Loomis, has become obsessed with Michael’s motivations. In one scene, he attacks and leaves Officer Hawkins for dead and kidnaps Allyson, taking her and an unconscious Michael to Laurie’s home. It is revealed that he is responsible for Michael’s escape and hoped to study him “in the wild”. His plans go horribly wrong, Michael escapes and literally puts the boots to Sartain, before setting his sights on Laurie, Karen, and Allyson.
This one plot point aside, Halloween 2018 is a great follow up to the original, offering several nods to Carpenter’s classic, including an elaborate tribute to that films continuous Steadicam shot. This time, we follow Michael as he stalks through a neighborhood on Halloween night, picking off a couple of victims one at a time. There’s also a moment during Michael and Laurie’s final throw down where The Shape stabs Laurie and she falls from a balcony, only to disappear when the killer goes to investigate. This is a nice homage to the original film’s surprise ending.
One of the movie’s strongest elements is how it portrayed multigenerational trauma. The effects of Michael’s attack on Laurie and her friends as teenagers plagued Laurie all her life. Paranoid of her attacker’s return, she dedicated her life to preparing herself, and ultimately her daughter, for this moment… one everyone else believed would never come. A recluse and alcoholic, Laurie’s struggle caused almost irreparable damage to her relationship with her daughter. In my opinion, this is Jamie Lee Curtis’ finest work, and she brings both a hard edge, and vulnerability to Laurie. Her scenes with Greer and Matichack are uniformly excellent, and their relationships believable.
But this is still a Halloween movie, and the film delivers with some great kills and moments of suspense, including the aforementioned single-take sequence and the final showdown between Laurie and Michael in Laurie’s fortress-like home.
And yes, having Carpenter compose the score alongside his son, Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies resulted in some great musical moments to accompany the stalk and kill sequences.
Halloween 2018 grossed $76.2 million during its opening weekend in October 2018 and went on to make $159 million in North American and $259 million worldwide. All this on a budget of about $10 million. It didn’t take long for Blumhouse and Universal to announce two more films, Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends, both of which couldn’t live up to this film, and ended up dividing fans, especially Halloween Ends… but that’s another story for another video.
Halloween 2018 serves as a great follow up to Carpenter’s classic, and a works both as a standalone story and series reboot. One could argue Blumhouse needn’t have continued the story at all, and should have left Laurie and Michael alone with this film’s conclusion. As is, it’s a fine double header on Halloween night with Carpenter’s original.
A couple of the previous episodes of WTF Happened to This Horror Movie? can be seen below. To see more, head over to our JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channel – and subscribe while you’re there!
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/halloween-2018-wtf/