For the first time since 1981, both John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis will be returning to the Halloween franchise, respectively set to produce and star in the film that will be released next year. With its plan to ignore the sequels and start fresh after the original, the new film presents a unique opportunity to revamp the series and once more make the killer as frightening as he was during his 1978 debut. So what can the filmmakers do to avoid the mistakes of many of the sequels?
No Family Ties
The best sequel after the original is still Halloween II, and while it's an effective horror film, it did introduce the idea that Jamie Lee Curtis was Michael Myers' villainous sister. The original film told of a girl who was randomly targeted, which had the unsettling implication that Michael could have honed in on anyone. Laurie being Michael's sister removed the random nature of his attack, and as a result made him less frightening.
Carpenter has always said he was disappointed in his choice to make Laurie the villain's sister, so will the new film ignore this plot development? It's an exciting possibility. The original Halloween told of something that could happen to anyone, and its haunting ending left audiences wondering if they were next. If the filmmakers abandon Michael's family killing quest, it just might be that way again.
Always Closing In
What many forget is the original #Halloween isn't a very gory film, nor does it have a high bodycount. #JohnCarpenter and his team created tension with a very simple but effective trick: they put Michael in every scene. As characters go about their routines, the killer is constantly watching from the shadows, gradually moving closer until he finally strikes.
The original film milked these moments to the point of torture. We know Michael is going to kill someone — the only question is when. Whenever he shows up in the frame, leering at a character, it creates a feeling of anticipation and dread. It's always the waiting that's more frightening. Moments like this set Halloween apart from the slew of imitators that followed. Will the filmmakers return to this more subtle but more effective form of horror? We'll have to find out in 2018.
The character of Dr. Loomis insists that Michael isn't human, a point the film makes further when we see Michael's very inhuman behavior. Michael's movements, and lack thereof, are more akin to a machine or a phantom. He drifts in and out of shots in the blink of an eye, stands as still as a stone statue. When he does move, it's often in a strangely mechanical fashion that makes the character look more like a robot than a man.
You can't reason with an unfeeling machine and you can't stop a phantom. Many of the sequels reduced Michael to a lumbering goon, not nearly as unsettling as the character in the original film. The filmmakers may want to move away from the hulking brute and return to the elegant ghost. They can also take a page from the book of Nick Castle, still the best actor to portray the famous killer. Less human is always better.
Less Michael, More The Shape
John Carpenter sought to dehumanize his villain as much as possible, even going so far as referring to his villain as 'The Shape' in the script. This is because that's primarily how Michael is shown in the original film, not as a man, but as the impression of one. We hardly ever see his famous mask, mostly catching glimpses of the killer from the neck down, or even more common, concealed in shadow.
Carpenter referred to the character of Michael as a force of nature, like the wind. This unique way of photographing the series' antagonist really brought that point home. A man bleeds and a man can be killed, but a shadow is made of darkness, and darkness is unstoppable. In showing less, the makers of the original make Michael more. They made him The Shape, and if done right, the 2018 film can see The Shape's triumphant return to screen.
As an avid fan of the original classic, its hard not to get a little hyped for the new film. Carpenter is reportedly very excited about the new script and has a good deal of creative input on the project. Could this mean the creative spark that made the original so powerful will be found in the new film? Only time will tell. Halloween didn't become an icon by drenching the screen in buckets of blood — it horrified a generation of filmgoers simply by showing a silhouette in a doorway. I have little doubt that the same things that scared people in 1978 can scare them again in 2018.
Do you think returning to the original techniques can bring back success to the Halloween franchise? Let me know in the comments.