On Saturday evening, the Missus and I went to go see David Gordon Green’s new Halloween movie (2018). We were not disappointed in the slightest. I had much the same emotional reaction from seeing this flick that many Star Wars fans got from seeing Episode VII: The Force Awakens back in 2015. It was like seeing an old-fashioned Halloween movie again. Watching Jamie Lee Curtis beat the living shit out of Michael Myers is just about my favorite thing to see.
I’m not going to go into too much detail about the film—I’ll wait a few months before I give this movie a proper review and really dissect it for everyone. But I did notice that a certain film critic at CNN named Brian Lowry has accused the film of being little more than your average slasher fare. He also accuses it of sabotaging its own message of female empowerment by having so many “women who wind up on the chopping block.” First, I’d like to point out that Lowry’s tone betrays his prejudice against slasher movies in general. While it is true that slasher movies of the early 1980s were particularly questionable in the ways they portrayed their female characters, this is most certainly not true of the original Halloween from 1978 (or even most of its sequels and spin-offs). We might also point out that slasher movies have generally become much more woman-friendly since the 1990s (as in Wes Craven’s Scream from 1996 and Jim Gillespie’s I Know What You Did Last Summer from 1997). So I think Mr. Lowry’s insistence on judging this new Halloween movie based on “common knowledge” of slasher films is ill advised.
But perhaps my biggest beef with Lowry here is that he doesn’t appear to have watched the same film I watched at all. He describes it as a “fairly by-the-numbers slasher movie” in which the gruesome deaths are “mostly involving [teenagers],” and then he makes a joke about not getting attached to anyone who isn’t old enough to drink legally. (In many early 1980s slasher films, the characters are usually teenagers who go to an isolated spot so they can drink, smoke, and have sex without any parental interference; as they are picked off by the killer, it often seems to film critics as though the characters are being “punished” for violating White Anglo-Saxon Protestant values.) Lowry’s comments are ironic given that most of the victims in Green’s Halloween (2018) are not teenagers, but adults. Roughly half of them are male, and the men suffer the most grueling deaths by far. (No spoilers, but it does not pay to be a cop in Haddonfield, Illinois.)
More importantly, Lowry seems to have missed the entire character arc of Laurie Strode, her daughter Karen, and her granddaughter Allyson. Again, I’m not going to discuss any spoilers, but this movie grapples with issues like post-traumatic stress disorder, trauma, and grief. It shows us that the things that happen in these movies can have real consequences that continue to effect people for decades after they’ve already happened. It even explores the idea of a female survivor’s story not being believed, not only by men, but by other women as well. My wife put it best when we were leaving the theater: This is not just a “by-the-numbers slasher movie,” but a Halloween movie for the #MeToo era, which is very lovely thing to see.
Apart from saying that I think this is literally the best Halloween film to have been produced since 1988, I can’t recommend this movie highly enough. If you dig horror movies, do yourself a favor and go see this flick. And if you’re worried at all about this film being misogynist or anti-woman, let me put your fears to rest. If we had a daughter, my wife and I would take her to see this movie because we both think Laurie Strode is a fantastic role model for young women everywhere.