Making sense of the contrived 'Halloween' series timeline
I know what you're thinking: another Halloween movie?!
But I assure you, it's fun and definitely a lot better than any movie in the franchise made between 1981 and 2009. What's even better is you don't need to have seen any of the Halloween movies other than the first one—and even that prerequisite isn't absolutely necessary.
Allow me to explain:
OK, so start at the beginning: What happened in the original 1978 Halloween?
Halloween opens with a startling sequence: the six-year-old Michael Myers stabs his sister Judith to death while wearing a clown mask (which we see from his point of view). He's placed in a psychiatric hospital, where he stays for 15 years. The film jumps to the present day (Halloween 1978), when a 21-year-old Michael escapes and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois.
He stalks Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and murders a number of her friends. Laurie barely escapes death. In the end, Myers's psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) finds Laurie and Myers fighting and shoots the murderer six times in the chest, knocking him off a balcony. But when he looks back, Michael is gone.
What happens next?
Halloween II, released in 1981, picks up right where the first one ends. Laurie is taken to the hospital, and Michael continues to hunt her down. It's in this sequel that we learn that Laurie is actually Michael's sister, but her name was changed to protect her identity.
This gives a motive to Michael's seemingly random murder spree—this one taking place in the Haddonfield Memorial Hospital. At the end of the film, Laurie watches as Dr Loomis sacrifices himself and ignites a gas-filled operating room with Michael and himself inside.
But then there were, like, eight other movies, right?
Yes, and as you'd imagine, it gets pretty nuts from there. The third film, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, doesn't feature Michael Myers or Laurie Strode at all. The main storyline picks up again with Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (which did not involve the return of Jamie Lee Curtis or Laurie Strode) and Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, a two-part story in which Michael seeks out Laurie's daughter, Jamie Lloyd.
After one more sequel (1995's Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, which featured a young Paul Rudd and brought Dr Loomis back from the dead), the series reset once again. Halloween: H20, released in 1998, celebrated the original film's 20th anniversary by bringing back Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, explaining the messy continuity of the sequels with an easy explanation: She faked her death after the events of Halloween II, now living a quiet life in California. Michael, of course, figures it all out—but he's no match for Laurie, who decapitates him at the end of the movie.
In 2002's Halloween: Resurrection, Laurie is confined to a psychiatric hospital (the man she killed in the previous film was mysteriously not Michael Myers), where Michael finds her and kills her in the opening sequence. Then, in 2007, the whole thing was rebooted completely by Rob Zombie with a different origin story and new actors. It was successful enough to warrant a Halloween II remake.
None of this matters though?
Nope. As it turns out, the new Halloween abandons everything that happened between 1981 and 2009. This movie is essentially a direct sequel to the original Halloween released 40 years ago.
"We watched all of them and I can actually enjoy all of them," director David Gordon Green told Entertainment Weekly about the Halloween development process. "But there just felt like such a simple truth to the original. I think by the time you add Michael and Laurie’s relationship, being family, or he’s only hunting his family, it takes that ‘Boogeyman’ out of it. I want everyone to be afraid of him."
"The first one really had that anonymity to who he was. [We are] stripping down the backstory, and philosophy, and motivation, and, you know, themes of cults, and things like that. In this one, we’re trying to go bare bones and tell a horrifying story of questions that have no answers. It’s just bad sh*t that happens."
That means Laurie is not Michael Myers's sister. In fact, that's even explained in the new movie, when one character asks if it was Laurie's brother who murdered all those babysitters. "No, it was not her brother," another character responds. "That's something that people made up." And that's an interesting way to retcon all the other movies as something more like myth and rumours rather than facts in a timeline.
What do we actually need to know for new movie?
Well, honestly, anyone can enjoy the new movie regardless of their knowledge of the Halloween universe. Halloween 2018 can function as its own stand-alone movie. It's a breezy, gory thriller that also turns out to be a lot of fun thanks to some clever writing from Jeff Fradley, Danny McBride, and David Gordon Green. But I will say: It's a lot more fun to watch if you've seen the original. It's full of fun Easter Eggs and nods to John Carpenter's slasher classic.
Even though Halloween purists might be annoyed with the narrative reset (even though that's nothing new for this franchise), it does make this whole movie a lot more palatable and realistic. Picking up where Halloween 1978 left off, we get more of a sense of the life-long trauma that Laurie suffered after those murders 40 years ago.