Indie director David Gordon Green wasn’t an obvious choice to create a sequel to 1978 cult classic horror movie Halloween, but he’s done what so many before him failed to do, writes ANDREA BEATTIE
NEARLY a dozen sequels, prequels and ‘reimaginings’ and none have managed to come close to capturing the brilliance of John Carpenter's 1978 cult horror slasher movie Halloween.
Forty years after the release of Carpenter’s original masterpiece, US director David Gordon Green, and co-writers Jeff Fradley and Danny McBride have done what so many filmmakers had attempted and failed: to create a film worthy of standing next to the 1978 classic.
In doing so they had to ignore the convoluted and contradictory storylines thrown up by the 10 or so Halloween films that preceded theirs, and pick up the story of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Michael ‘the Boogeyman’ Myers (Nick Castle) directly after the terrifying conclusion of Carpenter’s original film, exactly 40 years later.
In the original film, masked serial killer Myers, known as The Shape, terrifies the small Illinois town of Haddonfield, killing three teens while trying to get to their friend Laurie who’s babysitting on Halloween night. He evades capture and goes on to ‘star’ in 11 more films.
But in Green’s 2018 re-imagining, Myers was caught not long after the murders of Laurie’s friends, and has been incarcerated at a maximum security mental institution. As for Laurie, she’s spent her entire adult life waiting for Michael to return. Now a self-confessed basketcase, Laurie’s lost relationships and had her children taken away from her; her sole life focus has been preparing and training for Michael’s inevitable return so she can exact revenge.
She gets her chance when The Shape (James Jude Courtney) escapes while being transported to another facility, and so begins the nail-biting and bloody game of cat and mouse.
“This movie really blurs the lines between who’s the hero and who’s the villain, who’s the predator and who’s the prey,” director Green says on the phone from LA.
“It’s an emotional character story first, and then it’s a horror movie.”
Halloween also stars Judy Greer as Laurie’s daughter Karen and Andi Matichak as her granddaughter, Allyson. Supporting actors include Virginia Gardner and Will Patton, as well as cameos from original cast members Nick Castle (Myers) and PJ Soles (Lynda).
Green, who also created Eastbound & Down and Pineapple Express, says as a lifelong fan of the original film, he was incredibly nervous taking on a project with such huge expectations.
“I’m always drawn to what I’m scared of,” he says. “(Carpenter’s Halloween) is sacred and is beloved, not just to me but to a massive worldwide fan base. I haven't had too many opportunities in my career to make a big commercial film that has a degree of anticipation behind it; this, to me, was an opportunity to broaden my horizons into the horror genre which I’ve been wanting to do.
“I was one of the people who had a lot of opinions about how (a new Halloween movie should be made)
and I thought if i’m going to have an opinion, I’m going to be the one to do it.”
Green and his creative team collaborated with John Carpenter who gave them some stellar advice: “Keep it simple and keep it relentless”. As he did on the original, Carpenter created the score for the new film too.
“(John) was the one who said ‘don’t try to explain things, keep it ambiguous and straightforward’,” Green says. “There was a version I had in the script that had a prologue establish who we were, where we were coming from, why we were here today and he was like, ‘you don’t need that. Jump into the movie, it’s your movie, don't try to explain everything to the audience, they’ll pick it up as they go along’. Advice like that was really valuable.”
Replicating the tension and terror of the original was a challenge for Green.
“What I’m really drawn to is the intimacy and simplicity of a man with a knife in your house. A man with a mask and a knife in your house is even worse,” he laughs.
“I like the idea that here we didn't have to do a lot of explaining; the ambiguity is part of what's so terrifying about it.”
Green was thrilled when fan favourite Jamie Lee Curtis agreed to return as Laurie after she was made aware of the Halloween project by mutual friend Jake Gyllenhaal.
“We didn’t ask her ‘til we wrote it. We thought we’d write something that appeals to her and hopefully she’ll join the band,” Green laughs. “A lot of actors who are iconically recognised in a part or a role, (are) trying to distance themselves from that relationship but she’s so appreciative of the opportunity of Halloween and the doors that it opened and the career that it created.
“She shows up to work an hour early every day just to be appreciative and show people thanks. “She’s the Queen Bee of the set and lets everyone know how much she appreciates them.”
Green says he really wanted the film to be a love letter to Carpenter and Curtis.
“The things that were essential to me were the tone that Carpenter had established, the character of Laurie Strode and the music,” he says.
“Those three things I hold pretty sacred and very much involved them both in my questions and my curiosity and my ideas. They were great collaborators and I wouldn’t have made the movie without them.”