Female-lead “Halloween” remake misrepresents, falls short

Elena Waldman and Lauryn Bolz

The producers of “Halloween” might think the 11th time is the charm, but don’t bother wasting your time.

Surrounded by critical acclaim and the hype of being the biggest film to open with a female lead over the age of 55, “Halloween” was on track to break box-office records before it was even released. Social media and news pages were flooded with images of Jamie Lee Curtis alongside costars Judy Greer and Andi Matichak striking power poses against a blank background. The promise of a female-led cast was what brought us, and we suspect many of the other women, to the theatre.

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We fully embraced this film, expecting to come out of it having witnessed the next Clarice Starling or Ellen Ripley. In reality, we left the theatre with an empty bank account accompanied by severe disappointment.

What the film offers in place of developed female leads is an assembly of irredeemably bland characters with little to no complexity.”

The 11th installment in the slasher-film series, the plot of “Halloween” is just as obscure and confusing as the entire franchise. The 2018 release is a direct sequel to the original 1978 adaptation of the same name and completely ignores the previous nine parts of the franchise for the sake of a cohesive storyline. The story follows psychotic serial killer Michael Myers 40 years after killing several teenagers and winding up in a highly guarded mental institution in Haddonfield, Illinois.

The only survivor of Myers’ homicidal rampage is Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), a neurotic woman living in seclusion out of paranoia that Myers will return to finish what he started. After escaping captivity while being transported to another facility, Myers continues his killing spree, forcing Laurie to relive her experiences from the first film. Laurie, who has spent the last 40 years preparing for his return, has an unstable relationship with her daughter, whom she was overly-protective of due to severe trauma. Despite these tensions throughout the film, Laurie, her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) band together to finally put an end to the terrorization.

Man holding a knife and wearing a white mask.
Serial Killers Michael Myers in original 1978 film “Halloween”.

The trade-off of “Halloween” between various production conglomerates throughout the years has likely contributed to it being such an incoherent mess. Purchased in 2015 by Miramax, the franchise has endured several remakes and loosely connected spinoffs, creating the confusing context in which the story takes place.

Though there are several nods to the original Halloween, the franchise has become so repetitive and homogenized that many of the references lose their value. When Michael Myers escapes captivity in a similar way he does 40 years prior, it feels like less of a tribute to the original and more like the writers lazily falling back on old clichés.

For a movie that thrives off the illusion of being a feminist accomplishment in blockbuster history, the marketing team for “Halloween” deserves major props. What the film offers in place of developed female leads is an assembly of irredeemably bland characters with little to no complexity. Under the guise of being strong and independent, each woman is reduced to their relation to their male counterparts.

Laurie, Karen and Allyson, the ultimate trifecta of clueless white women, lack any chemistry at all.Halloween” makes a clumsy effort to explore the strained relationship between the three but falls short with the lack of emotional depth or character development.  

The lack of diversity and use of people of color as props for white characters revealed the true intentions of branding “Halloween” as a groundbreaking feminist film. As many Hollywood studios have recently learned, bolstering a message in social equality for women is matched by a largely female audience who are willing to spend money on bad films if it means supporting their fellow ‘feminists’. 

We wish we could say “Halloween” redeemed itself with enough terrifying jump-scare moments to make up for its gaping flaws, but cannot. The storyline was horribly predictable, employing every exhausted scary movie cliché to carry the plot along. If the use of tired tropes was an intentional ode to the era of scary movies in which the original was created, it certainly did not read that way.

Should you watch it? Meh. 

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What “Halloween” lacks in horror, it makes up for in humor — albeit completely unintentional. We must say watching a grown woman hysterically run through a residential neighborhood while waving a gun around at children who are trick-or-treating will forever be etched in our minds as the funniest attempt by a slasher movie to induce anxiety within the audience.

Elena Waldman and Lauryn Bolz can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @WaldmanElena, @laurynbolz.