Franchise Fred was a big fan of Halloween H20, so the one misgiving I had about a new Halloween was that it would ignore my favorite along with the mediocre or worse sequels. But this approach to Halloween which I will call H40 is actually a gift to a fan of H20. Now I get to see two movies where Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is a survivor with PTSD finally confronting Michael Myers! What other franchise gives you their your favorite entry twice!
In H20, Laurie changed her identity and went into hiding with her son. In H40 she stayed in Haddonfield, divorced twice and lost custody of her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), though she’s close with her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). So there you already have two drastically different explorations of what could have become of Laurie Strode, both dramatically valid and poignant.
Every time Curtis does a Halloween movie, she brings unparalleled gravitas to the story. When Jamie Lee Curtis tells you to believe in the boogeyman, you listen to her. H40 reverses many of the classic Halloween shots from Laurie’s perspective and it’s so effing satisfying. Not because they’re callbacks, but because they represent Laurie taking the power back.
Everything about H40 is great. It opens with a pre-title sequence like a James Bond movie. Just seeing that font and those credits with a new pumpkin sequence over the John Carpenter theme is triumphant. Watching teenagers walk and talk down the street passing by pumpkins and Halloween decorations is special.
We meet Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney and one scene with Nick Castle) as an old man, and the camera is careful to obscure him until he gets the mask back. Michael leaves a path of death wherever he goes, more so than in the previous movies. In the others he mainly avoided detection until he got where he was going. Not anymore.
The state is transferring Michael to a new facility because they can’t leave well enough alone. You do have to question that of all nights, they had to transfer him on October 30th. Like they couldn’t wait ‘til November 1? You have a killer who only murders people on Halloween, and you think, “We’ll go October 30. What would go wrong?” But if H40 showed bureaucracy making smart decisions it would be science fiction.
I really like Allyson and her friends so I genuinely worried for them when Michael got loose. The script gets rid of Allyson’s cell phone in a reasonable way, because this is 2018 and it would cut the movie down to about 65 minutes or less if they could just call Allyson earlier in the night. Kids do stupid things with their phones, so it’s a reasonable solve.
I’m not 100% on this, but has any other Halloween had a camera track with Michael on a killing spree before? We’ve seen his point of view, but have we ever followed him for a long rampage? Even if that’s not a first, there are so many elegant camera moves to reveal Michael. A scene involving backyard motion sensor lights is particularly stunning.
H40 is a true bookend to the original. And the great thing about the Halloween franchise is that still doesn’t rule out more. Over 11 movies they’ve had sequels that contradict each other’s timelines, a pair of remakes, a standalone non-Michael entry and now this. There are no rules and Franchise Fred approves continuing to make Halloween movies. Letting A-list filmmakers give their take on it was a really good idea though.