As soon as Blumhouse and John Carpenter announced that they were working together on a brand new reboot of the Halloween franchise, horror fans began speculating on who would direct the hotly-anticipated return of Michael Myers. A handful of different names were thrown around as suggestions, and every single name I heard was one that was inextricably linked to horror. We’re talking guys with a proven track record in the horror space; guys who primarily play around in the genre we love. Guys like Adam Wingard. Mike Flanagan. Adam Green.
All great choices, might I add. But as it turns out, Carpenter and Blumhouse were keen on going the complete opposite direction from whatever any of us could’ve expected. As announced this week, Carpenter will executive produce (and possibly provide the score for) a new Halloween film, set for release in October 2018, that’s being co-written by David Gordon Green and Danny McBride, and directed by Gordon Green. Yes, the same David Gordon Green who directed Pineapple Express. And yes, the same Danny McBride who has mostly starred in laugh-out-loud comedies.
My first thought? SAY WHAT?!
About 30 seconds later? Pure, unbridled excitement.
Now if you’re opposed to the very idea of two comedy guys, or two guys we perceive and have typecast as comedy guys (check out David Gordon Green’s Joe, which is brilliant and very much not a comedy), I totally understand where you’re coming from. The idea of Danny McBride writing a Halloween film is undeniably a bit of a strange one, at the very least a completely unexpected one, and you may be wishing right about now that the creative forces behind this were a little bit more, let’s say, connected to the horror genre. You’d probably feel safer with a guy like Mike Flanagan attached to direct, because let’s face it, a guy like Flanagan has proven that he’s probably up for the task.
But it’s precisely because of how outside-the-box (and maybe even a little uncomfortable) this all is that I personally am excited about this project; way more excited, to be completely honest, than I would be if a “horror guy” was announced this week instead of two “comedy guys.” Why, you ask? Because talented filmmakers (and both Gordon Green and McBride definitely fit that bill) who don’t live and work in the horror space (they also fit that bill, to say the very least) are maybe actually the best people to inject new life into the dead, tired franchises that we adore. And what Halloween needs right now is just that: Fresh. New. Life.
We horror fans have a tendency to forget that it’s not necessarily “horror people” who make great horror movies, it’s great filmmakers who make great horror movies – it’s worth noting that this year’s Get Out, the most widely-hyped horror movie of the year so far, was directed by comedian Jordan Peele. In fact, some of the very best horror movies, some of the ones that wrote the genre’s rules, were made by filmmakers who are very much not identified as “horror guys.” Steven Spielberg directed Jaws. William Friedkin directed The Exorcist. Stanley Kubrick directed The Shining. Richard Donner directed The Omen. Hell, John Landis followed up Animal House and The Blues Brothers with An American Werewolf in London.
My point? Great filmmakers who aren’t deeply involved in the horror genre have a proven track record of making damn good horror movies that we all agree are some of the best we’ve ever seen, and also of bringing fresh and innovative ideas to the table. And with David Gordon Green and Danny McBride at the helm, we can at the very least be pretty damn sure that their take on the legend of Michael Myers is going to be as fresh as the franchise could ever dream of being in the year 2018 – we already know that Carpenter himself fell in love with and vouched for their pitch, which should be enough to sway anyone who might be on the fence about “comedy dudes” resurrecting one of the most beloved horror properties of all time.
And here’s another thing that’s important to keep in mind.
Though Pineapple Express may have turned David Gordon Green into a (perceived) comedy filmmaker, he actually cut his teeth with serious dramas like George Washington, All the Real Girls, and Undertow; he’s nothing if not one of the most versatile filmmakers working in Hollywood today. Furthermore, Gordon Green is a HUGE horror fan with a deep love for the genre. You may remember that he was at one point attached to direct a true passion project: a remake of Dario Argento’s Suspiria. Why didn’t it work out? Because Gordon Green and the studio butted heads. He left the project because he didn’t feel he was being afforded the opportunity to properly do Argento’s film justice.
He explained to Indiewire back in 2015:
I wanted it to be a horror film. And a horror movie, at the time when we were modeling that movie, meant you’re making ‘Saw’ and ‘Paranormal [Activity]. You were making these down and dirty, very gory, very economical movies. So the economic model for a horror movie was not where I wanted it to be to make a $20 million elegant movie from a guy who was an unproven horror director, you know?
I don’t know about you, but those are the words of a man who I want to be creatively involved in a franchise that I love. Because clearly, he loves and cares about this stuff as much as we do.
I’m not cautiously optimistic. I’m not even optimistic. I am just plain EXCITED.
And you should be too. Because we are lucky to have these dudes in charge.