The sequels had to die. Director David Gordon Green and screenwriters Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley had zero interest in continuing slasher normalcy. Their Halloween had to explore the resulting realities of the genre it’s confined within. How would “The Night He Came Home” affect its victims? What kind of mark would such a violent attack leave on the survivors? Can a filmmaker deliver on the thrills demanded by the franchise fanbase, but also remain true to such a harrowing experience?
At the Fantastic Fest premiere of Halloween, we had the opportunity to chat with several of the cast and crew. They appeared to be very aware of the continuity anxiety exhibited by certain members of the fandom. For forty years, Michael Myers has been stalking the streets of Haddonfield, Illinois. To transform most of those cinematic events into fantasies was no simple decision.
Malek Akkad inherited the responsibility of the franchise from his father, Moustapha. While he was eager to see the films continue, he was initially weary:
“At first, I don’t want to say I was taken aback, but it sort of made me pause. But the more David and Danny and Jeff explained their vision it didn’t take me long to get behind it.”
Halloweens 2-8 still exist. They haven’t been erased from your Blu-ray shelf or digital downloads. They wait for you whenever you want to press play. Akkad assures the fans not to worry; the new Halloween will not be totally unfamiliar:
“The beautiful thing is that there is so much in there for the die-hards of the whole franchise. If you haven’t seen those, you should also see it because it is a standalone movie in a very strong way with what David Gordon Green has done. At the same time, it seamlessly fits with part one. So there can be these parallel universes. We might be living in a parallel universe. Who knows? Halloween has its parallel universes.
Danny McBride was not looking to eradicate the sequels. In fact, he had no desire to write the films in the first place. However, once Green came to him with the idea, he could not let the potential slip past him. In answering the question of 2018, Laurie Strode meant they couldn’t’ worry about the mythology. They had to go back to that original October 31st:
“We were just trying to figure out a simplistic way into this, and it felt like if we had to figure out some kind of continuity between it all, then we wouldn’t be able to do it.”
When the reboot concept entered their head, the film came together quickly:
“That’s the age that Jamie is now. I don’t know; it just seemed like the right time. It was just one of those ideas that we had from the start. So we followed it.”
Such a bold decision came with plenty of anxiety, but the longer they thought about making another Halloween; the path to reboot seemed necessary.
“We’re fans of that whole series, so we didn’t cut them out because we didn’t like those movies. It was more about trying to find a way in that would keep the tone similar to what the first one was, the simplicity of it.”
Jamie Lee Curtis was not looking to crank out another night of horror for poor Laurie Strode. She returned to the series for Halloween: H20 and Halloween: Resurrection. She was done with the character, but then the script from Green, McBride, and Fradley made its way into her hand.
She could not resist. Curtis did not believe the reality of slasher films had ever been dealt with before. Even during her previous returns to the series, the pain of that fateful night was only explored on a surface level. This script allowed her to reveal authentic hurt to an audience that cheered on her pursuit in 1978:
“Trauma is real. Soldiers, police officers, fire department personnel, anybody on the front line of any conflict suffers trauma. There’s random trauma to people every day. We very rarely explore it. We feel bad for them, and we move on because nobody wants to look at the messy part of trauma. Then through the messiness watch, someone take back the power. But you can’t take back the power until you see the person who is getting in the way and we have to explore that. What was beautiful about the script was that it explored it very honestly and with a lot of integrity.”
Producer Jason Blum concurs. Although, it’s not all doom and gloom:
“It’s also about female empowerment. Three generations of women outsmarting a psychopath.”
Taking on the role of Allyson, granddaughter of Laurie, Andi Matichak believes they can have their cake and eat it too:
“It’s a lovely slasher and its fun. It’s thrilling and energetic and all those things that we love. But if this really happened where would you be forty years later?”
Allyson has grown up in the shadow of grandmother’s nightmare. Michael Myers did not just kill three teens that night. His attack sent ripples down the time stream. For Matichak, that infinite threat is the most important aspect:
“It’s a story about trauma and how trauma affects you generationally. You see how it affects her relationship with her daughter (Judy Greer) and how that trickles down to me. It’s really interesting because she has to be a mediator between the two of them for her whole life. Alyson is a little bit more of an older soul because she is constantly trying to be like, ‘Okay Grandma, get it together.’ It’s an interesting dynamic because it has made her grow up quicker than most.”
Akkad is in awe of what they’ve achieved in this latest entry, but he denies the crown of the franchise’s new figurehead:
“I don’t look at it that way because what he started was totally different, but continuing what he started is very rewarding. I know that there is no one would be happier today with this release then he would be.”
We’re still waiting to see if the grand experiment of killing the Halloween sequels works. The decision certainly led to the return of Jamie Lee Curtis to the franchise. Halloween Part IX would have simply been Myers vs. a new group of victims, and would not have furthered any conversation surrounding the emotional distress of human suffering. In 2018, even the slasher film can offer a forum for thoughtful discussion.
Will that translate to box office success? Jason Blum is not worried:
“Personally, I was very satisfied the first time I saw the movie. I was really, really pleased because it was what I had hoped to set out to do. Yes, I hope we really succeed in another way, but personally, in that way, I thought it was a success.”