Through thick and thin, Michael Myers has remained one of the horror genre's most enduring icons for the better part of four decades. A mute psychopath with a penchant for white masks and babysitter murder, the guy set the standard for movie slashers that would be matched by fellow evildoers like Freddy, Jason and Chucky. Now, 40 years after his initial debut, it looks like he's gearing up for another battle with his estranged sister, Laurie Strode, in a brand-new Halloween film.
However, as excited as we are about the prospect of Michael facing off against an older, traumatized Laurie in one last battle, we have a hard time shaking the feeling that this premise feels incredibly similar to 1998's Halloween: H20. To be clear, H20 is not a bad movie; in fact, it has become one of the better-reviewed entries in the Halloween franchise. That said, this new entry still needs to set itself apart from what we have seen before, so let's dive in and talk out how to make that happen.
Set The Story In Haddonfield
Unlike the Friday the 13th films (which take place at Camp Crystal Lake) or A Nightmare on Elm Street (which has the freedom to move around inside of a dream space), the Halloween films are heavily predicated on their uniquely suburban setting in the fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois. The town has a deep connection to the evil acts committed by Michael Myers as a boy, and the quintessentially middle America setting has helped shape the tone of almost every Halloween film to date. By contrast, H20 moved the action to Northern California, and while it was a breath of fresh air at the time, the new Halloween cannot follow the same formula. After almost a full decade-long absence from the silver screen, the Halloween franchise needs to set its next (and possibly final) entry in its rightful home.
No Purely Comic Relief Characters
There is obviously nothing wrong with having a bit of levity in your scary movie (in fact, it can really improve a scary film if handled correctly), but H20 took it too far with the inclusion of LL Cool J's Ronny, a smooth-talking security guard at Laurie Strode's upscale boarding school. It's not that the music star was necessarily bad in his role, but he felt out of place in a franchise that has traditionally played its particular brand of horror very straight. If a new Halloween movie wants to pick up decades after the events of October 31, 1978, then the focus should remain on the primarily leveled on Laurie Strode's trauma that she suffered when Annie, Linda and the rest of her best friends were murdered by a deranged lunatic.
Keep Michael In The Shadows
Compared to guys like Chucky or Freddy Krueger, Michael doesn't have much in the way of traditional "magical" abilities. He carries a knife and he stalks his prey with an unnerving level of patience. However, once you see him, you just have to keep running to get away from him. That's an issue that H20 consistently ran into when it debuted in 1998 -- Michael was continually shown in direct light. The key to keeping him scary and imposing is to keep him in the shadows for as long as possible so he can utilize his knack for stealth. An audience typically fears what they cannot see more than anything else, so never knowing where Michael may come from next is the best way to keep him established as a viable threat.
Don't Force Easter Eggs And References
Among the things that H20 got wrong when it debuted back in 1998, its insistence on shoehorning references and Easter eggs into the story stands out as one of its most glaring offenses. From the kills that mirrored earlier kills in the franchise to the repetition of lines uttered in other movies ("everyone deserves one good scare") to the constant nods to fan-favorite moments in the franchise, it felt more like a love letter to a bygone era of horror films than a true Halloween movie. Instead of trying to force Easter eggs into this new installment in the franchise, the folks behind the new Halloween need to find ways to make the homages and references feel like original plot elements that will move this universe forward in a proper way. It can't just be "Hey, remember when Michael lifted someone while stabbing them?"
Don't Use A CGI Mask
H20 clearly used several different masks over the course of its production. However, there's one particular mask that will go down in infamy as the worst of the bunch: the CGI mask. It remains unclear why this version of the classic Michael Myers mask (which intentionally blacked out his eyes and gave him a more ghostly appearance) was allowed to be used (because it looked god awful), but the new Halloween needs to learn from these mistakes. Michael Meyers is not a character who requires substantial digital effects to work, which makes sense, considering that he's been around since the late 1970s. All we want is a scary and proper mask design that honors the modified William Shatner mask from the 1978 original, and we will be happy with the result.
Give Us Characters To Invest In Aside From Laurie
Last, but not least, we come to a systemic horror genre issue that extends beyond H20, but definitely shows up in that film as well: the lack of relatable or likable characters. Outside of Laurie (and her son John, to a lesser extent), most of the characters who show up in H20 are expendable cannon fodder (butcher knife fodder?) who don't get much development or time to shine before Michael unceremoniously snuffs them out. Being able to root for someone is a fundamental aspect of telling a proper horror movie story, so this new iteration of Halloween needs to pack its ranks with real characters who have real nuances that we can latch on and relate to. It can't all be about Laurie at every possible turn.