HalloGreen – A Zeitgeist Slasher Film?
DIRECTED BY DAVID GORDON GREEN/2018
Blumhouse and Universal’s Halloween (2018) Thursday night pre-screenings opened to a promising $7.7 million, beating out Warner Brothers The Nun September $5.4 million outset and only falling short of matching the popular Stephen King re-adaptation of 2017’s It which earned $13.5M. Halloween, or as I’ll now be referring it as “HalloGREEN” (Helmed by seasoned drama writer-director David Gordon Green), retcons all other franchise sequels, Zombie’s two remakes, and is a direct companion piece to John Carpenter’s original 1978 classic. It was claimed by its creators and a substantial amount of critics alike that it would be the true, one and only, definitive sequel.
“Hallogreen” presents us with a new timeline in which Halloween II (1981) and Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998), coincidentally both of which star Jamie Lee Curtis reprising her career defining role as Laurie Strode, never happened. The most monumental change being: Laurie Strode is no longer Michael Myers’ sister. And thank goodness because aside from having the series tied down by its constraining bloodline arc, was there nothing more idiotic than Michael deep sea scuba diving for his relatives in Halloween: H20? Am I right? Get it?.. Because H20 is the chemical formula for water. Do you guys like my jokes?… I’ll stop.Set 40 years later, two investigative true crime podcast journalist Aaron Korey (Jefferson Hall) and Dana Haines (Rhian Rees) journey to Smiths Grove Sanitarium to interview Michael Myers who, after his killing spree of three innocent teens on that cold autumn night back in 1978, was taken into custody by authorities and has since remained in a highly surveillanced captive state, the last four decades continuing his known oddity of refraining from all verbal communication. At the seasoned age of 61 he eerily resembles potential Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock.
When the interview doesn’t lead to fruition, the pair pay 3k to interview the town of Haddonfield’s legendary Laurie Strode, who has now become a cut-off recluse, a barely-coping firearm-gathering survivalist (She’s T2’s Sarah Connor, but grossly incompetent and without all the self-assured fortitude) and most likely a woman struggling with some form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. With two failed marriages under her belt and a highly resentful daughter (Judy Greer) taken by Child Protective Services at an early age, it’s a perplexity as to how this woman managed to find someone who wanted to have children with her at all. In her own words, she tells podcast journalist “I’m a basket case.”
When Myers is scheduled to be transferred, we’re introduced to an adult Karen Strode’s family and particularly, Laurie’s granddaughter, Allyson Strode (Andi Matichak). Though Laurie is mostly shunned by her family, she still prepares for some sort of final confrontation with the man she narrowly escaped and holds responsible for her life-altering neurosis.I’ve followed the production of “Hallogreen” since its announcement, and all the way through said production, remained in pretty high spirits about its potential. That was, until Jamie Lee Curtis began doing promotion for the film, and took to her social media accounts to express some of her political allegiances. “Hallogreen” has been billed by Rolling Stone as ‘the Halloween for the #Metoo generation’ and it’s no longer a secret that the film has somewhat of a feminist bite to it.
Now, I’m sure I’ll lose some readers saying this, but I have become starkly anti-feminist in the wake of the #Metoo #TimesUp movement. A movement that’s trivialized sexual assault, turned rape into a public relations move, created a nation of petulant pseudo victims, come close to destroying due process, and is ending male careers over mere allegations at a rampant pace in the same era men are committing suicide at a record high. I also think it’s an easy way for Hollywood’s former “casting couch” participants to get some compensation money. The movement also lost most of its credibility and suffered an unrecoverable hit when foot-soldier Asia Argento, one of the main accusers of Harvey Weinstein and unfaithful girlfriend of recently suicided famous Television chef Anthony Bourdain was caught paying a an underage boy 350k in hush money for a sexual encounter they had when he was merely seventeen. So yes, contrary to that cute little Lynzy Lab song that’s been making its rounds on the interwebs lately dispelling the notion men have nothing to be afraid of, I do think this is a very, very scary time for boys. And as much as I love Curtis as a person, I didn’t want her political leanings to come across too strongly in the film.
At 2018’s San Diego Comic Con, at the Halloween panel, Curtis referenced disgraced doctor Larry Nassar exclaiming, “I know you’re nerds, but I don’t know if any of you watched the ESPYs the other day when all of those women stood on that stage while that M.F. rots in prison, those women stood there and said, ‘You do not control our narratives anymore.’ And that is why I am sitting here today in this great Hall H for a movie for David Gordon Green. Because he wrote a character who’s saying ‘I’m taking back my narrative!”
On October 4th, Curtis posted a muscled up photograph of her character imitating feminist icon “Rosie The Riveter” with the caption “Do as I say! From fear, to fierce.” And in the September 28th, 2018 issue of Entertainment Weekly, there was a photo featured in which a wimpish Myers is seen reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love– the feminist bible if there ever was one- with his legs crossed effeminately and Curtis looking down on him. Needless to say, after that, I was a bit cynical, crossing my fingers, and hoping most of this rhetoric didn’t sink its fangs into the heart of the film, like it has so many others. (the Ghostbusters remake, The Last Jedi, Mad Max: Fury Road – All feminist disasterpieces) Were they going to totally neuter Michael? Was Michael even a man, or should I be ashamed for assuming his gender now? Was it going to be revealed that Brett Kavanaugh was the man behind that mask all those years ago and he was inflicted by the curse of the devil’s triangle? The determining factor on how I responded to this film was if it was or was not going to be an on-the-nose feminist parable of a once-victim, now warrior overcoming her cis male perpetrator. There is nothing that would have sunken my opinion of the film more than to see three generations of Strode women handing Myers his rear end, making him look weak and pathetic.
Fortunately this is not the case. “Hallogreen” is mostly a success, if perhaps not the grand-slam knockout early reviews have indicated. The feminist commentary is there if the viewer wants it to be, but not overwrought to the point of annoyance. Alt-righters and Proud Boys may have at this, but it’s hardly an easy punching bag in the same vein as the new Star Wars sequels, fixating on the politics of multiculturalism, inclusivity and diversity more than an overarching vision. In this film, Michael brutalizes men, women, and yes, even children- hardly a safe move for a blockbuster. One particular bathroom killing at a local gas stop deserves to be highlighted for its sheer realism, rendering it the most effective death in the film.
But, “Hallogreen” does have it problems. Most notably, pacing. Unlike Carpenter’s original, the film moves at an exhilarating speed leaving some secondary characters, most notably Allyson’s high school friends underdeveloped. Even Curtis, the once virginal and pure National Honors Society student turned local nut job, who gives arguably one of, if not the greatest performance of her career, is a bit too sidelined in segments. There’s a comedic element to the film that’s occasionally welcomed (child actor Jibrial Nantambu as the babysitted Jullian will win over most theatergoers) but intrudes upon some otherwise serious scenes which deserve full gravitas. Screenwriter Danny Mcbride, who was sweating bullets at the Toronto International Film Fest premiere, shared the same concern when asked about the frequency of the jokes during the Q&A “I was worried when people were laughing. I was like f***! Did we put to many jokes in there?”Interestingly, for a film that’s so concerned about embracing a movement rooted in leftism, it’s shockingly very pro-second amendment. Fox News called Curtis out for previously being pro-legislation in an article entitled “Jamie Lee Curtis Wields Firearms in new ‘Halloween‘ Movie Despite Advocating for gun Control.” Curtis responded back, acknowledging that films that don’t contain firearms don’t pull in revenue. “If I had made my career as a pacifist actor, I would never have worked, ever. I am vocal about common-sense gun safety and gun laws. For instance, I fully support an assault weapon ban, I fully support a bump stock ban.”, she says. “I fully support the Bill of Rights. And fully support the Second Amendment. And have absolutely no problem with people owning firearms if they have been trained, licensed, a background check has been conducted, a pause button has been pushed to give time for that process to take place. And they have to renew their license just like we do with automobiles – which are weapons also.” She’s also a part of the neoliberal elite who more than once has likely had armed bodyguards escort her. So take of that statement what you will. Regardless, the police are completely incompetent in tucked away, midwest Haddonfield and “Hallowgreen” gives you the impression that without citizens’ access to firearms, it would be an open slaughterhouse.“Hallogreen’s” final message is that trauma is a generational burden that’s reach has potential to cast its shadow beyond the experience of one victim. It falls short, though, of handling its PTSD subject matter in the same nuanced way the 2009 Director’s Cut of Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 did. (Laugh at me all you want- I consider Zombie’s second entry to be the artistic peak of the series outside of the original). It also fails to capitalize, for all its feministing, on its potential for giving subtext to Michael’s “boys will be boys” violent streak. Green’s Laurie is jittery, hypervigilant, and manic to the point where she’s considered a danger to others. One sorrowful scene at a generic family gathering has her drinking wine like it’s water, as though without it, she’s ill-equipped for basic socialization. Her demeanor is one of serious-mindedness, and she always has a sullen look on her face, like a real PTSD victim. One wishes “Hallogreen” spent more time with that side of Laurie.
Instead, it carries the torch halfway, only to tragically see a serious study of survivors trauma be undermined by needless jokes and one to many rough editing decisions. It’s not the worst the franchise has to offer, nor is it the ultimate successor-piece it’s been hyped up to be. For the record, 2018’s best horror film is still Ari Aster’s Hereditary.
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out Erik Yate’s Review who hails it the “much-needed return of the slasher film.”