Halloween Die-ary: October 18, 2018

Hallow-screen is starting to become the theme of this stretch of this year’s OTIS Halloween Season. Tonight, three things were on that I wanted to see: Part 2 of the Samantha Brown AutumnWatch on New Hampshire PBS, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on ABC (I know, I know, but there’s something about watching this special in the moment on broadcast TV), and the debut of the new Halloween movie in theaters. It was a hard choice…that I made about a month ago.

No way was I not going to watch the new Halloween movie. Of all the movies out there, the original John Carpenter indie is sort of baked into the holiday. I bought advanced tickets for me and Lindsey at our favorite theater near our house as soon as they opened for them. And then totally changed plans for tonight’s debut.

The build-up to this movie has been insane. This is a franchise with 10 movies in it already, including remakes. I tried to figure out the hype and came up with a few reasons. Horror is big right now (and I mean in a trending sense, not in a seasonal one, but that latter could also be relevant). We also trust Blumhouse Productions to put out great stuff. John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis both returning was key to the buildup (although JLC has returned to the franchise before). And maybe we love Michael Myers that much. Without him there would be no Jason and Freddy and Chucky and Ghostface. He’s OG.

I add all that together…and still don’t quite know. But I’m body-surfing across it with everyone else.

I spend Thursdays at my office in Boston, and for some reason I bought tickets for the 7pm showing near my house, meaning it would be a tight finish line what with traffic and all. On top of that, Lindsey bowed out about a week ago due to the baby in her gut that’s gotten so bad even a night with Michael Myers wasn’t worth leaving the house for. So I made an executive decision at the office and went to a theater by myself near my work after work.

That means I’m responsible for three tickets’ worth of this movie’s box office. The same thing happened to me with The Force Awakens…which becomes a more relevant point later.

I arrived at the Somerville AMC to discover the one thing with this Michael Myers mania that I wanted to see besides the movie: The movie standee. I figured this theater would have it because they always have all the most extravagant standees…even for less event-based movies.

The Halloween standee is a one-inch-thick door with a real knob set into a large black cardboard box. You open the door to find a life-sized cardboard Michael Myers standing there in a closet with his knife raised. Way cool.

I got my popcorn, my soda, and my Twizzlers and then settled in to watch the movie. Afterwards, I had a 10 minute walk back to my office where my car was parked. It was almost winter cold and city-dark, and as I walked, my thoughts solidified around what I just watched.

It was…fine. Michael Myers beautifully realized walking around brutally killing people. That’s all it needed to be, I guess.

I think the thing I loved the most about it, besides Michael Myer’s look, was the score, which was co-written by John Carpenter himself. Without his new score in this movie, this Halloween would be at 60% power and possibly lower. And, honestly, that might be true of the original Halloween, too.

But “fine” wasn’t what I was all-in on this movie for. What was lacking?

Basically, the story and creative decisions.

It wasn’t very daring. For a horror movie, that’s a problem. Especially for a horror movie whose main big bad we’ve seen more often then certain of our uncles. The whole thing reminded me of how I felt about The Force Awakens. Excited during the build-up and excited in the moment, but pretty empty about it afterward. Both movies are fine. Both movies are remakes in tone and beat and plot. Both movies are safe choices for their particular story.

And then there was Laurie Strode. JLC did great with her. Loved every minute she was on screen. I just couldn’t figure out what the movie was doing with her. Her life had been a shambles for 40 years, ever since that first Michael Myers rampage, and she ruined her daughter’s childhood over it as well.

So when The Shape finally comes, does that mean she’s vindicated? This one moment vs. the 40 years of loss? A moment that wasn’t even much of a showdown and didn’t need 40 years of preparation. And a moment, by the way, that they then snatch from her by making Michael Myers escape (arguably, I guess, but we all know how this goes). I thought that the Laurie Strode/Michael Myers moments in Halloween H20 were more powerful.

Also, waiting for him to escape the asylum for 40 years seems extremely passive to me for a person who dedicated their lives to getting ready for a showdown.

The other thing I was sort of bummed about was that it didn’t seem like a Halloween (as in the holiday) movie. Just didn’t have that feeling that the original had that helped it totally earn its name and made it such a part of this month. There was some Halloween in the middle, but it seemed perfunctory. I think that can be traced to the movie lacking an overall directorial vision and style. It was obvious that Blumhouse knew that it really had to land this movie, so it erred on the caution side, with lots of fan service and very little audaciousness (pretty much only one moment of it, in fact).

But, in the end, who cares? It was fun leading up to the movie, fun watching the movie, and fun to have this movie be such an integral part of the 2018 season. Next year, I might choose Great Pumpkin instead, though.