'Halloween' Trailer Breakdown: The Night She Struck Back

"Happy Halloween, Michael."

Jamie Lee Curtis
Universal Pictures

Following in the footsteps of a masterpiece is no easy task. John Carpenter’s Halloween practically kickstarted a new genre of entertainment. While there have been several slashers I would be happy to praise, there have been even more embarrassing wannabes. It is a horror category that often falls into misogynistic, grotesque displays of depravity. Teenage girls lined up like cattle for the slaughter. No thanks.

I was skeptical when David Gordon Green and Danny McBride first set out to recapture the terror of the original. Erasing the events of Halloweens 2-6 as well as the Rob Zombie remakes almost felt like cheating, but after witnessing their first trailer, my trepidation was pretty much put to rest. Now comes another one to seal the deal.

Whoa. 1978 was the night he came home. 2018 is the night she struck back.

Who cares about Michael Myers? Laurie Strode is where it’s at. While most of the first half of this trailer was shown at San Diego Comic-Con, and looks incredibly paced and stylish, the back half is an absolute celebration of Jamie Lee Curtis. This is not the Laurie Strode we last saw in Halloween H20 or (gulp) Halloween: Resurrection. This Laurie Strode is stealing back the holiday that nearly destroyed her. Her nightmare is over; it’s time for The Shape to meet his end.

While we have seen several of these shots before, this latest trailer ultimately reveals two combatants at play. Haddonfield better lock up its doors and stay out of the crossfire.

Halloween Shot

As the studio logos roll over each other, we hear the laughter of children. I’m already on edge. The trick-or-treaters race between houses, completely unaware of the evil that walks amongst them. I love how David Gordon Green and Danny McBride establish this potential buffet for our killer. The holiday as a deadly meal.

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John Carpenter’s iconic piano pings begin to echo through the neighborhood. Two kids walk and rummage through their booty of candy, attempting to figure out which house is not-too-spooky to approach. Naturally, they accidentally bump into the creepiest guy on the block. Ok, kids, apologize to the tall, dark stranger.

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Thankfully, The Shape is not interested in the young ones. A noise captures his attention, and he turns his head to see…

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…a woman retrieving a few utilities from her backyard shed. The camera tracks behind Michael Myers as he approaches, passing alongside her house. We hear Laurie Strode narrate his deadly approach, “40 years ago on Halloween night, Michael Myers murdered three people.” Dr. Martin’s voice responds, “After that horrific night he was sent back to the institution under captivity.”

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The Shape is free now, and he’s on the hunt for goodies of his own. Weapon of choice number one: a claw hammer. A deadly bit of arithmetic begins to get solved in the audience’s mind. Woman + hammer = nothing good.

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The Shape enters the kitchen. We don’t need to see the deed. The scream suffices.

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The Shape trades hammer for knife. Upgrade.

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The Shape exits, roams amongst the trick-or-treaters, looking for another domicile to invade. Laurie Strode continues her message of fear, “I have prayed every night that he would escape.”

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The Shape steps up to a second house. From the porch, he peers into a random living room. We hear Sheriff Hawkins ask Laurie Strode, “What the hell did you do that for?” A healthy amount of disgust can be traced in his voice.

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We helplessly watch another victim served up to The Shape.

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“So I can kill him.” Duh.

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This is not the Laurie Strode from 1978’s Halloween or any other. That girl is gone. Only the woman remains. While we may see other victims in this film, Strode most certainly won’t be one of them. She’s on a mission. She’s been planning for The Shape’s return. She will stop his reign of terror and claim redemption for her own night of terror.

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Dr. Martin and his assistant Dana sit at the foot of a grave. Judith Myers, the sister of Michael, and The Shape’s first target. In 1978, her grave was ripped loose from the plot and desecrated.

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In the distance, Michael Myers leers. He’s still dressed in his asylum jumper. This peekaboo habit tracks with his modus operandi.

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“I need to protect my family.” Carpenter’s score is at full volume now. Laurie Strode loads her revolver and then reveals her stockade of munitions to her daughter and granddaughter. Not only will she arm herself, but her kids better get strapped as well.

Halloween Shot

While her daughter exclaims that mom needs help, Laurie responds, “Evil is real.” To sell this point the trailer cuts back to Dana trapped in the roadside bathroom. The Shape sprinkles a mechanic’s orthodonture upon her, and all she can do is scream her terror.

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A quick shot of The Shape standing at the top of Laurie’s basement. He better duck cuz she’s got one of her many rifles pointed directly at his skull.

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We are treated to several iconic Halloween images. A slow tracking shot of a clothesline has as much ominous presence as the killer himself. Sheriff Hawkins continues to suck at motivating heroism with “There’s a reason we’re supposed to be afraid of this night.”

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While only three people were murdered during the original Halloween, this sequel certainly appears to up the body count. This babysitter kill shot was the terrifying button on the first trailer, but a simple throwaway scare here.

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Laurie Strode barricades herself behind locked doors. “I’ve been preparing for this for a long time.” Yep, the new Halloween will not be a slasher film. It’s a versus grudge match.

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At some point, Laurie pulls herself from her bunker and takes to the streets to warn the neighborhood. She screams, “Go home, get out of here, get inside.” Revolver out, she’s gone hunting. While the new film ditches the sequels that came before, it still manages to pay homage to the bug-spewing costumes from Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

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Welp, don’t think Sheriff Hawkins is walking out of this one. Sorry, Will Patton.

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Blink, and you’ll miss this creepy close-up.

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As Laurie promises “He is a killer, but he will be killed tonight,” we catch a few seconds of The Shape reaching for her granddaughter in the back of a police car. How is she going to get out of this one?

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Laurie’s brother-in-law, Toby Huss, makes a gruesome discovery. Is that Jack O’Lantern face the head of Sheriff Hawkins? Probably.

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Huss backs up in terror, but The Shape is there to catch him. His future doesn’t look too bright either.

Halloween Shot A

“Happy Halloween, Michael.” Every shot of Jamie Lee Curtis aiming a rifle is pure gold. The last thing the world needs is another stalk and slash horror film. I’m not sure why it took this franchise so long to put Ms. Strode into the full-badass mode, but I am thankful to see her savage showdown with The Shape. Halloween H20 came close, and gave her a victorious coup de grâce, but she spent too much of that film on the run.

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Just check this reverse shot of Laurie’s previous basement encounter with The Shape. She has smacked him on the noggin, kicked him into her dungeon, and is ready to put that welder mask to work. The hunted as hunter. Yes.

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The trailer ends on Laurie’s screaming face. The Shape shattering her front door and attempting to rip her head through the tiny glass window. I get it. End the excitement with a genuine threat, but that’s not what I ultimately want from this Halloween.

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Boom. Let’s jump back a few frames. There it is. Jamie Lee Curtis as warrior avenger, taking back the night.

Halloween hits theaters on October 19th after playing TIFF and Fantastic Fest. Michael Myers better start praying to his dark god now.

Trekkie, Not Trekker. Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects, co-host of the In The Mouth of Dorkness Podcast.