One must be careful to compare any modern-day horror movie to John Carpenter's 1978 classic thriller Halloween. The cherished pilot and the comparable sequel Halloween 2 wrote the proverbial 'horror book' on how cinematography and great directing, in lieu of today's tropes of violence and blood, can be used to build suspense and create fear.
There can be little argument that Halloween and Halloween 2 spawned what would be the future of Hollywood filmmaking with any hint of success which is, 'why not make another one?' Unfortunately, Hollywood has yet to learn the lesson why. This is noticed by the Horror sub-genre's that followed it up to the present day to include, but not limited to, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Child's Play, and anything with the word 'exorcist' in it...and that's not an exhaustive list...The Nun...The Conjuring...they're all heading in this direction to their own peril.
To be fair, Halloween was not exempt from this trap either as Hollywood launched another 7 movies with the title that were all dismal by comparison except for Halloween: H2O that saw the return of Laurie Strode and was a decent addition to the series despite still being a paled comparison to the original.
Rob Zombie took his stab (pun intended) at the franchise in 2007 and 2009 as he sought to recreate his vision of John Carpenter's original, and in Rob Zombie-esque fashion to be sure. With an 80M worldwide gross, this edition to the Halloween franchise almost totaled H20 and Halloween: Resurrection combined in revenue which isn't bad. However, fans were largely divided on his remakes although the first of the two stayed close to the original story with a nice exploration of Michael Myer's backstory as it sought to show a creative and unique angle that the original did not. Additionally, I would also be surprised to find any fan who could argue against the portrayal of Michael Myers by all 6'9" Tyler Mane of 'Undertaker' fame, as a violent and terrifying presence to this now legendary character that even the original couldn't quite meet.
Three Halloween Movies in one?
When we first heard the announcement that Halloween was going to return, most theories speculated that it would be a 'one-off'...a final saga that would see the end of Michael Myers and in perhaps a poetic fashion, even Lori Strode...but No. We're getting a Halloween trilogy which, after a solid 255M worldwide gross, is not surprising, that's Hollywood for you. Historically, and this is true of almost all movie sequel's, the farther you get away from the original, the worse the movie is as filmmakers make efforts to differentiate each new film from the one's that passed before yet seem to forget about the recipe that led to the original success as much of the effort is merely in cashing in on name recognition.
But how will it be done? Or, perhaps said differently, how should it be done? It appears from trailers that, much like the original sequel, the second installment of 2018's Halloween takes place where the first one ends. With scenes indicating a mob hunting of Michael to freakily shot hospital scenes, we see glimpses of Halloween 2 and Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers better moments.
There is no shortage of films in Hollywood that take place over one day or night although it's still uncommon. The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3, The Breakfast Club and Cloverfield come to mind. But there are far fewer movie sequel's that span the same day or night as the original. Even more rare, there may be zero movie 'trilogies' that all take place within the same 24-hour period. If this is what we're in for, this would place the Halloween trilogy in a unique place in cinema and may be a fantastic way to immerse fans into the storyline that no other movie trilogy has done to date.
What are these new Blumhouse Halloween movies really about?
The obvious answer is Lori Strode and the effects of the trauma she experienced so many years earlier. But, to dig deeper, this trilogy is really about the trauma of the entire town of Haddonfield, a concept rarely explored by Hollywood and again, another unique possibility for these final two films.
Trailers and casting announcements have confirmed that original characters Tommy Doyle, and Lindsey Wallace, portrayed by Kim Richards of the Real Housewives of OC, are reprising their roles with Richards being the actual actress that played Lindsey in the original. Have we ever stopped to consider the trauma that these young children likely experienced with their brush with death at the hands of Michael Myers? To be honest, I never did. How has this trauma impacted their lives growing up and how is Michael's return going to impact them going forward? I am fascinated that the showrunners are choosing to explore this in more detail and it's a move in the right direction, they deserve their time in the sun. The effects of trauma and the levels of resiliency a person has, to say nothing of how one copes with trauma, will be interesting layers that I hope our writers and directors will take the time to explore.
Who else are we forgetting? How about Sheriff Leigh Bracket played by Charles Cyphers in the original. This actor will also be reprising his original role as we will get a peek into the life of the other person so horribly impacted by that fateful night in Haddonfield. If you remember, Leigh's daughter Annie, Laurie's best friend, died horribly at the hands of Michael Myers. Compound that with the responsibility Sheriff Bracket must have felt presiding over a town whose only claim to fame is the slaughter of 15 people killed at the hands of Michael Myers must be overwhelming and life changing.
How will Halloween End?
Will the makers of these films throw a curveball at us when (and if) it comes to Michael's final scene? Theories abounded as fans considered who should (or would) deal the final death blow to Queen Cersei in Game of Thrones. Some wanted Jamie Lannister, others Daenerys, others Arya Stark so she could complete her list...all would have had provided some form of irony to her end but alas, we were served with none of the above and instead, we got a very anticlimactic ending of the worse sort.
To be sure, fans are assuming that Michael will die at the hands of Laurie Strode. But would it not also be an unexpected, yet satisfying twist in Act 3 to have 'the shape' die at the hands of Lindsey Wallace, Tommy Doyle or Leigh Brackett? Or maybe all of them? A fitting end to the spree murdering Myers and closure to those hurt beyond the physical as they seek to repair their life.
How the new Halloween trilogy should end
Yes, this is the 24K question. Although I touched on this above, the ultimate question is will and should Michael Myers die?
If the movie-studio mentality is any indication, Michael will live so another group of folks can, at some later date, revitalize the franchise and make a studio some money. From a business standpoint, we must understand this. However, as this franchise has already shown us, even the greatest films in a genre can suffer from this over-used and tired philosophy. As Cortez once burned his ships to motivate his men, so to perhaps John Carpenter and company need to burn the Michael Myers ship, put an end to this madness and force Hollywood to find the next Halloween rather than more tired repackaging of this series. But that's jumping too far ahead for this treatment.
With our eyes and psyches firmly rooted on Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends, the title itself connotes a finality to this 40-year iconic franchise, but is it a ruse? We may see the end of Michael Myers but as alluded to earlier, will we see the end of Laurie Strode in an 'ai uchi' (mutual killing) form of Samurai death. In a study of Samurai lore, one possible outcome between evenly matched opponents would be the idea of mutual death or a death blow from each. To be defensive would leave one open to defeat. Only when fully vested in killing the opponent, even at the possible expense of your own death, could you truly be in Mushin or 'no mind.' In this state, warriors neither sought victory of feared death...they simply were. Will Laurie Strode sacrifice her life in this Samurai fashion to bring peace to Haddonfield and protect her family from the evil force of nature that is Michael Myers?
There is a lot to play with here no doubt. If nothing else, fans can be satisfied that the people at the helm of Halloween have seen the importance of adding to the recipe that made the original Halloween so great as well as the nostalgia as they continue to bring back characters to explore as they put an exclamation point on this film franchise. So far, they have come to understand one important thing, new friends are good, but old friends are even better.