- Review by Kaya Savas - November 2, 2018
Halloween: Resurrection came out in 2002, but this year’s Halloween is the true resurrection of this beloved but tired franchise. John Carpenter’s original film remains one of the greatest horror classics ever made, and gave birth to a genre of horror that would be copied and mimicked for the next 40 years. Complicated legal battles and grudges kept Carpenter away from the franchise for some time. When it came time to do Halloween H20, Carpenter was set to return to direct but dropped out from the project when his director’s fee was not met by producer Moustapha Akkad who had produced every film since the original.
Akkad past away in 2005, which left the door wide open for a new producer to take the reigns. With horror seeing its biggest resurgence in years, and studio appetite for franchise films at an all-time high, I’m surprised it took this long to get another Halloween made. Jason Blum acquired the rights and assembled the original dream team back together. He convinced both Jamie Lee Curtis and John Carpenter to be involved, and got David Gordon Green to direct. The film is a return to form, and a great modernization of one of the most iconic horror characters of all-time. The film’s success is helped greatly by the fantastic score from John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies.
John Carpenter might be the best director/composer out there. While he is in no way as capable as a more traditionally trained composer, his themes have strived in simplicity to become the bold hammer that nails the tone and feel of his own creations. Here, he is working with his son, Cody Carpenter as well as composer Daniel Davies. These two young talents help round out the music team to make this score more than just a thematic hat to place on the head of the film.
The main theme for Halloween is beyond iconic, but having Carpenter’s "synthy" sound palette back on the franchise makes everything feel right again. The score is already working hard during the opening logos, building atmosphere and creating a spooky fog of sound that fills the air. We’re then hit with that iconic theme for the opening credits before being plunged into the story.
The score brings back some moments from the original, and doesn’t do too much fleshing out, which is just Carpenter’s style. There is definitely more narrative storytelling happening here than the original score had, and that can sometimes help and hurt. The original film and score worked so well because it was really just adding tiny moments. Here, we go a bit overboard at times. And while some moments of this score are great, other times it can suck out the tension completely.
Michael Myers is meant to be the embodiment of pure evil, nothing drives him except the desire to kill what is around him. The film does a good job cementing that while showing that all this “connection” to Laurie Strode is all in her head. She built up Michael Myers to be this haunting ghost from her past, when in reality Michael is in no way seeking Laurie out. The score does some minimal character building with Laurie and Laurie’s granddaughter, and we hear that in "Laurie’s Theme". When Michael is on the attack, silence works best. It’s when the music decides not to be silent that it can become too much.
The tracks that I’m sure everyone will gravitate towards are “The Shape Hunts Allyson” and “The Grind”, which add this nice booming presence for Myers. It feels like this culminating moment in the two times it’s used in the film. This motif feels very much inspired by the New Order song titled “Elegia”, which was made famous by being used in the short film More. The song was also used in Season 1 of Stranger Things. Then you have the “VROOOMS”, which honestly just sound like the alarms from The Purge. So even though the makeup of this motif isn’t wholly original, it still makes for some cool moments in the film.
In the end, this is a fantastic horror score that is quite entertaining. Having John Carpenter return to score this Halloween along with Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies was a rousing success. While this Halloween can’t hold a candle to the original, it’s probably the best sequel to come after the original. And since this film ignores all the other sequels, it does feel like starting on a clean slate. This is a messy franchise, but it’s iconic for so many reasons. The score for this 2018 sequel is a blast, and showcases so much of what makes Carpenter’s tunes so perfect for his visual creations.