Forty years later, Michael Myers is back. And so is Laurie Strode. And after seeing the new Halloween, The Ringer staff holed up in a fortress with a hidden basement, trap doors, and, um, a bunch of creepy mannequins to talk about the biggest horror hit of the fall.
1. What is your tweet-length review of Halloween?
Andrew Gruttadaro: A fun movie that’s more inspired by the movies the original Halloween influenced rather than the original Halloween itself.
Amanda Dobbins: I’m a wuss who hadn’t seen a horror movie in 15 years, and I had a great time. Not sure that’s what anyone but me was hoping for?
Miles Surrey: More competently made slasher films, please! This was a ton of fun.
Claire McNear: It’s not so much a sequel as a gussied-up remake of the original. This is a compliment.
Zach Mack: The Halloween franchise is back.
2. What was the best moment of the film?
Surrey: The long tracking shot once Michael Myers is back in town on Halloween night. It’s not just paying homage to the opening of John Carpenter’s original film. It’s technically impressive, following Myers as he kills in two different houses without a single cut in the action. It comes across like trick-or-treating, but evil.
Dobbins: The roof-shot homage is the objective winner, but my personal highlight was Judy Greer’s ice-cold “Gotcha.” Judy Greer got to do something real in a movie! It’s about time.
Mack: The final act revolving around Laurie’s house of horrors—and the inversion of Michael hunting Laurie—was brilliant.
McNear: The new Halloween makes the subtext of the original movie explicit: Michael Myers’s crimes are a brutally antiwoman endeavor. How can we not rejoice in the subsequent all-woman, multigenerational stab-shoot-flame fest?
Gruttadaro: The sequence when the kid and his father come upon a bunch of asylum patients after they’ve spilled out of a crashed bus. First of all, it’s a nice homage to the original movie. Second of all, it has the thing that all great slasher film moments should have: an equal amount of on-the-edge-of-your-seat tension and DO-NOT-GO-IN-THERE exasperation.
3. What was your least favorite part of the movie?
McNear: If you have a room in your house that’s full of creepy mannequins, of course that’s where the murderer is going to hide! Did Laurie Strode train for Michael’s return, or didn’t she?
Gruttadaro: I’m still mad at Youngest Strode for thinking that her iPhone was unsalvageable after her boyfriend chucked it into a bowl of custard. Just wipe that thing down and keep it moving, Allyson!
Mack: It was difficult separating the podcast subplot from my life. There is a very real chance that Halloween’s portrayal of podcasters could indirectly affect my livelihood in some way. I’m joking … but I’m also not.
Surrey: When the two Haddonfield police officers having a conversation about the allure of banh mi sandwiches are brutally murdered. About as quickly as Halloween humanizes these dudes with a hilarious back-and-forth, their heads are used as makeshift pumpkins. Rude!
Dobbins: I didn’t watch any of the gory stuff, but my answer is still “the gory stuff.”
4. How do you feel about the body count in the movie?
Mack: The original Halloween has five deaths, only four of which happen on screen. This movie has 17 bodies. They really ramped it up.
Gruttadaro: I thought it was a little too high, and is what most distinguishes 2018 Halloween from 1978 Halloween.
Surrey: It’s a lot higher than Carpenter’s original, but not concerningly so; it’s par for the course with modern slasher remakes. I’m not sure if it’s audience bloodlust that needs to be satiated or just filmmakers trying to outdo the first film’s carnage, but either way, the box office returns speak for themselves.
McNear: Halloween was revolutionary in 1978; 40 years of horror (in movies and, especially, in the real world) later, Michael Myers’s original five-murder spree feels dated, in a sad way. (One of Allyson Strode’s friends more or less makes this point at the beginning of the movie; you half-expect him to cite Yemen when he starts talking about relativity.) I guess it makes sense that a revamp would try to double (or, uh, triple or quadruple) down, but I wish I lived in the world where a single-digit body count was shocking.
5. Is Halloween Laurie Strode’s movie, or Michael Myers’s?
McNear: If Halloween passes the Bechdel test, it does so only via a technicality, which suggests that this is, alas, a Myers joint. Would definitely watch Laurie’s survivalist YouTube channel, though.
Dobbins: It’s Laurie’s, which I liked! But I was there for the vibe, not the dead people.
Surrey: It’s Laurie’s movie. The jury’s still out on how well Halloween accomplishes its goals, but this was a film about a woman reckoning with her trauma at the hands of the monster who instigated it 40 years ago. The worst Halloween movies—so, uh, basically all of them from 1978 until now—are the ones that tried to give Michael Myers an actual backstory. This whole thing is a lot scarier when he’s an evil blank slate, and when Laurie is steering the narrative.
Gruttadaro: It’s Laurie’s movie; more specifically, it’s the Strode women’s movie. But Halloween spends much of its runtime luxuriating in Michael’s evil in a way that feels nearly gratuitous. That’s what makes the “Gotcha!” so good—and so necessary.
Mack: As history has proved, a Halloween movie doesn’t work without Michael, and it doesn’t work without Laurie. They are the yin to each other’s yang. It’s their movie.
6. Pick your favorite minor character.
McNear: JUDY GREER!!!
Dobbins: Big fan of Julian, big fan of banh mis, but I’m saving my MVPs for question no. 8.
Surrey: Ray, Karen Strode’s husband, brings some Elite Dad game to this movie. He is played by Toby Huss, which reminded me of Halt and Catch Fire, which made me feel good up until the point when Michael Myers broke his neck.
Gruttadaro: Shout-out to the stoner boyfriend, who was also a stoner boyfriend in Blockers and will play a stoner boyfriend for the next five years, and shout-out to Charlie the limo driver from Curb Your Enthusiasm. But my pick goes to the friend-zoned kid. “They were feeding me guacamole all sexy” is one of the last sentences he says before being pierced by a wrought-iron fence.
7. What grade would you give the Haddonfield Police Department?
McNear: The HPD intentionally suppresses information about Michael Myers’s escape, and then an officer, having spotted a tall person on the sidewalk who might have been Michael (OK, it was, but still), ran his damn car over him. This is a flat F, though I am happy, I guess, for the many grieving Haddonfield families who will win civil suits against the police department.
Surrey: D. You can fault them for a lot of things, but who would have guessed that Michael Myers’s psychiatrist was gonna go totally off the rails and actively want his patient to murder people?
Dobbins: It’s an F, but my question is: Why are there only three police officers in the town? Michael Myers is running around, and their advice to people is just to “lock your doors?” How about some BACKUP?
Gruttadaro: At one point, the cop in the cowboy hat goes, “What are we gonna do, cancel Halloween?” YES, COWBOY MAN! THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT YOU SHOULD DO! A SERIAL KILLER KNOWN FOR KILLING ON HALLOWEEN IS LOOSE IN YOUR TOWN. TELL PEOPLE TO STAY INSIDE!
8. Are you listening to the Serial: Michael Myers podcast?
Gruttadaro: I’m listening with rapt enthusiasm as Aaron Korey yells at a serial killer and the pod continuously teases an exclusive interview with Laurie Strode. Then I’m throwing my phone at a moving subway car when I get to the finale and it turns out they asked Laurie, only, like, three questions.
McNear: Laurie’s argument against the podcast was, essentially, that Michael was pure evil and therefore unworthy of deeper exploration. “Pure evil” sounds like a significantly more interesting premise than basically every true-crime podcast I’ve ever listened to.
Dobbins: Lol, I didn’t even listen to Serial Season 3, WHICH IS WHY I LOVED THESE HACKY TRUE-CRIME PODCASTERS! A better send-up than American Vandal! Self-important non-journalists are the secondary villains of every narrative!
Mack: I have a lot of thoughts on this, many of which are highlighted in Miles Surrey’s piece. But to answer your question, yes, absolutely I’m listening to the final recordings of two journalists who were torn apart by the bogeyman.
Surrey: Imagine being an active listener of this podcast and finding out the hosts have been [gasp] murdered by Michael Myers at [squints] a gas station restroom? Of course I’d listen to British Serial at the gym, right up until its, um, abrupt ending.
9. Is Michael really gone?
Surrey: [Extremely smooth podcast voice] Can the bogeyman ever truly vanish?
McNear: Absolutely not. A severely burned Michael is a Michael even more in need of his mask. Also, the John Carpenter score is too good to let sit.
Dobbins: Nope, 77.5 million times over.
Mack: My guess is that Blumhouse likes money, so I’m gonna go out on a limb and say ABSOLUTELY NOT.
Gruttadaro: I don’t know! Technically, Laurie had help killing Michael Myers from her daughter and granddaughter, and the prophecy specifically says that Michael must die at the hands of Laurie, for neither can live while the other surv—oh, wait, sorry, that’s Harry Potter.