'Halloween' (2018) Is Way Better Than the John Carpenter Original
Last weekend, ahead of an early screening of the new 2018 Halloween sequel, I sat down to watch the original John Carpenter classic for the first time in over a decade. And you know what? That horror “classic” doesn’t really hold up. It’s actually kind of boring.
Don’t get me wrong. I know how important Halloween is for the entire horror genre. The 1978 film helped establish many of the horror tropes we know and love today (like when the “final girl” runs up the stairs to escape a knife-wielding killer instead of fleeing the house like any rational person would). But that the problem with inventing tropes, what was at one point edgy and fresh quickly starts to feel dated and stale once everyone else starts using the same tricks.
Sure, in 1978, Halloween may have felt edgy and new, but in the 40 years since we’ve seen these same exact scenes play out a million times. In Scream (1996), when Neve Cambell runs upstairs to her bedroom to escape from a masked killer she’s practically winking at the audience mid-sprint. When Jamie Lee Curtis does it in the original Halloween there’s no sense of awareness. But come on, even back then, everyone on set must have realized just how dumb her character was being in that moment. Right?
You might say I’m being petty for picking on Halloween. Plenty of classic horror films fail to hold up by today’s standards. After all, we’re so used to gratuitous gore, quippy supporting characters, and meta-commentary that a simple slasher can feel downright dated. But that doesn’t mean every old horror movie is bad now.
Rewatch the original Nightmare on Elm Street and tell me it doesn’t still scare you silly. That’s because Wes Craven managed to create something so original it couldn’t be easily imitated a million times over. Freddy Krueger never needed to be reinvented, because even 34 years later he still feels fresh and exciting.
Now let’s talk about Halloween (2018). What could have been just another pulpy Michael Myers sequel instead manages to retell the original story only better. Along the way, it also updates almost every one of those classic tropes to meet our heightened 21st-century expectations.
The old Michael Myers might have stabbed and choked a couple of teenagers. This one smashes faces, cracks jaws, and impales high schools kids on fence posts. The original wasn’t gory enough for you? This 2018 sequel might make even the biggest horror fans squirm in their seats.
Halloween (2018) also takes the classic Final Girl trope and flips it in an incredible way. Michael doesn’t chase Jamie Lee Curtis’s character, she chases him. One scene even recreates that iconic final scene where Michael falls off the balcony only to disappear a second later, reversing their roles so Curtis is the one who vanishes. Suddenly she’s become the hunter, offering a message of female empowerment that the original never matches even as a young Curtis stabbed her attacker in the neck.
Of course, it’s possible that 40 years from now this 2018 slasher will feel just as boring and dated at the 1978 original feels today, but at this moment in time there’s no comparing the two movies. The new sequel wins, and it’s not even close. It’s a massacre.
Halloween (2018) is in theaters now.