They never happened.
That’s right. Forget about Halloween II, Halloween 5, Halloween H20. Push the seven sequels out of your mind. Don’t let it wander to the Halloween reboot of 2007 or its 2009 sequel. As far as the 2018 residents of Haddonfield, Illinois, are concerned, those movies never happened. They might as well be fever dreams, for all they know.
No, in this timeline, Michael Myers, the serial killer who stalked babysitters and hacked up five people in Haddonfield back in 1978, has been safely locked away in Smith’s Grove Sanitarium. For 40 years, he’s lived there—standing, sitting, eating, drinking, getting older.
But never talking.
Michael’s former psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis, said the killer was “purely and simply evil.” He couldn’t be saved. He couldn’t be rehabilitated. Perhaps the best—the only—thing one can do in the face of such evil, Loomis believed, is to destroy it.
Laurie Strode would agree. Michael killed many of her friends 40 years ago. He nearly killed her, of course. She survived, but Michael exacted a price, and Laurie’s still paying.
Her hair’s gray now. She has a daughter and granddaughter of her own. But her life is still stuck to Michael’s as if he pinned her to his wall with a long, sharp knife. She can’t forget that night and has spent the last 40 years prepping for an encore. Her house is a fortress. She trained her only daughter, Karen, to fight Michael—or did until the state took her away. “I spent my entire life trying to get over the paranoia,” Karen later says.
Karen, now grown with a husband and daughter (Allyson) of her own, can barely talk to Laurie now, so lost is her mother in her obsession. The world, Karen believes, is a better place than her mother imagines. Not every rap on the door comes from a serial killer. Michael’s been locked up for 40 years now. Forty. Years. Enough’s enough.
He’s never coming back.
Laurie knows better.
Laurie knows better than anyone that evil’s hard to kill. And you can’t keep it locked up forever. When Michael escapes, she’ll be ready—with both barrels pointed at the door.
Is Halloween a family movie? Hardly. But it is a movie about family, and the messages therein (perhaps surprisingly) aren’t all bad.
Sure, Laurie was hardly a picture-perfect mom, and daughter Karen has some serious lingering resentment over that. But Laurie has no regrets. Her daughter’s safety was the most important thing; requited love was secondary. And that, when you think about it, is fairly self-sacrificial and loving.
The experiences that follow bond these three generations of women together more tightly, of course—each exhibiting strength and resourcefulness under the most extreme circumstances.
And if we take Michael Myers’ old doctor at his word, that Michael is indeed an embodiment of pure evil, we should laud those who forcefully oppose that sort of evil, especially at such great risk. And forcefully oppose that evil Laurie certainly does.
Laurie admits to Frank Hawkins, a law enforcement official trailing Michael, that she’s prayed every night that Michael would escape so she could kill him. “That was a dumb thing to pray for,” Hawkins tells her.
Michael Myers has never liked teens getting frisky with one another. And perhaps if there wasn’t so much “frisk” going on, more people would’ve gotten out of this movie alive.
Teen Dave visits girlfriend Vicky while she’s babysitting. He shows her a tattoo he got to commemorate the evening—perhaps anticipating the moment when they have sex for the first time. (He calls it an evening they’ll remember for the rest of their lives … even though that span ends up being quite a lot shorter than he likely anticipated.) Vicky makes a reference to physical stimulation, and we see the pair make out on the couch.
In flashback, we see the moment when 6-year-old Michael killed his teen sister, who’s preening in front of the mirror without a shirt. Her breasts are visible, both before and after the murder.
A guy makes an unwanted pass at Laurie’s high-school age granddaughter, Allyson. After she rebuffs him, he apologizes, drunkenly explaining that some girls at a Halloween party aroused him (describing, rather crassly, both the arousal and the flirtations that caused it). When he sees a stranger in the darkness, he confesses his girl problems to the guy. “Have you ever really liked a girl and you just couldn’t have her?” he asks.
Allyson and her beau dress up as Bonnie and Clyde for Halloween, only she goes as Clyde and he goes as Bonnie. (Allyson jokingly tells Vicky how “sexy” he is as a woman.) They kiss on occasion. Said beau and a male friend carry on in a school hallway as if they were gay. We see kissing at a Halloween party. Someone wears a revealing costume; a woman’s tank top is quite formfitting. We hear talk about getting pregnant and references to the male anatomy.
Michael Myers killed five people during his original rampage, we’re told. He shoots past that mark (though not literally: horror-movie slashers never use guns) significantly here. And he’s not the only person to inflict some serious pain.
One man is gorily killed by having his head crushed under heel. Another is stabbed in the back and is found impaled on a fence. (A spike runs through his face.) Still another is found pinned to a wall by a large knife, the blade penetrating his neck.
Lots of other folks are killed via other knife wounds, too: One we see shockingly stabbed in the neck from behind (the blade shoots out the other side), and two others are killed and left behind in a car. (A flashlight is stuck in the head of one unfortunate soul. His eyes have also apparently been removed, causing his skull to glow like a jack-o’-lantern.) A man is killed with a smaller blade, and we see his blood spurt out of the wound before he apparently succumbs to his injuries.
Several other people, including an 11-year-old boy, die after having their necks snapped. (One such victim is found with his neck grossly distorted.) Someone apparently dies in a fiery blaze. A woman is murdered by a hammer: Though the murder takes place off camera, we later see the body and the blood. A couple of people have their faces bashed against windows, walls or toilet stalls: I’m uncertain whether anyone’s outright killed in such a fashion, but most don’t survive subsequent … happenings. Someone else is strangled before having his throat cut, and various corpses are found in unexpected places. Bloody trails are left around houses.
One person gets thrown out of a window, bouncing off a rooftop before coming to a rest on the ground below. Another unfortunate gets hit by a car. Michael’s shot several times, but that never seems to incapacitate him for long (surprising, given that the guy’s at least 60 by now).
A montage shows lots of mannequins being shot. We hear references to the original Halloween massacre of 1978. We see glimpses of some old crime photos with presumably dead bodies in them.
Nearly 30 f-words are uttered between the movie’s screams and quips and gurgles. We also hear the s-word about five times. “A–,” “b–ch,” “b–tard,” “h—” and “d–n” also make their audible presence known, the latter used once with God’s name. (His name is misused at least two more times, and Jesus’ name is abused twice, too.)
Dave smokes marijuana. Over the phone, Vicky invites Allyson over to a house where she’s babysitting, telling her that Dave will be bringing some “alakazam” along. (The boy she’s babysitting knows that’s a reference to pot.) Allyson’s dad jokes that he used to buy peyote from the father of Allyson’s boyfriend. We hear other joking references to drugs elsewhere.
Wine is served and quaffed with dinner. Laurie (who, it’s suggested, stopped drinking a while ago) grabs a large glass of vino and guzzles it rather quickly.
An unfortunate woman chooses the wrong time to go to the bathroom. We see her using a bathroom stall in a gas station when … well, someone else comes in.
Slasher movies have about as much finesse as an over-caffeinated rhinoceros. They barrel into theaters with bluster and noise and carnage. I don’t think we need much nuance in this review, either.
I’ll say this for the newest Halloween: It’s effective. The impending dread, the moments of terror, the surprising instances of levity all make for a notable entry in this inherently dubious genre.
But beyond the horrific thrills and chills, beyond the cathartic showdown, slasher movies are about one thing: death. Fans expect to see lots of it, done in grotesque ways. Halloween doesn’t “disappoint.” More than a dozen characters die here, and all of them die horribly, in pain. Most of them are screaming.
Early on in Halloween, a pair of journalists interview Laurie. They want to get insight into Michael Myers’ psyche—learn what lessons they can from her experience with him.
“There’s nothing to learn,” she says. “There are no insights or discoveries.”
Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.