We've already heard that Danny McBride and David Gordon Green's new sequel to the John Carpenter horror classic Halloween is going to be a kind of alternative reality, which means that the film is going to pretend that all of the other sequels and reboots never happened. In a recent interview with the Charleston City Paper, co-writer Danny McBride goes into a bit more detail about the tone of the film, as well as his horror roots.
When asked if this film will return to the slow-burn styling of the original, McBride enthusiastically said that it would:
"We're trying to. The original is all about tension. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) doesn't even know that Michael Myers exists until the last minutes of the movie. So much of it you're in anticipation of what's going to happen and the dread that Carpenter spins so effortlessly in that film, I think we were really trying to get it back to that. We're trying to mine that dread. Mine that tension and not just go for gore and ultra-violence that you see some horror movies lean on. To us, it was all about bringing back the creep factor and trying to find the horror in your own backyard, in our own homes."
Though he is eager to discuss the film, he's not about to go into too much detail. As he says, "I'm being a little bit tight-lipped at the moment. As is David, too. I was a really big fan of that series of Michael Myers. We sat down for a few weeks, tried to come up with a take that made sense and felt like it was being true to the original." All of this was before the big test, which was pitching it to John Carpenter himself:
"He liked it. He liked what we were doing and wanted us to go for it. It's hugely inspiring. He's been one of my personal favorite directors ever since I was a kid. The chance to meet him and the chance to try to expand upon what he created and to have his blessing, it's just unreal."
Aside from the unreality of it all, how was meeting the legendary John Carpenter? According to McBride, "It was awesome. He's an imposing dude. He's a big dude. He's just been one of my heroes. It was pretty mind-bending." It would seem that McBride also had no doubts that Carpenter would speak his mind no matter what: "I know that he's also a pretty honest guy ... so I knew when we went in to meet him that if he didn't like the idea, I could tell he would definitely tell us. He was very kind and responded to it positively."
The Halloween franchise aside, is McBride a horror fan in general? Though he has made his name in more comedic roles (usually playing some kind of over-the-top jerk), it is horror where his heart seems to truly lie. "Honestly, it's probably the genre that I watched the most. When I was a kid, it was definitely all that I would devour," he says, before adding:
"My sister and I, when we were probably way too young to be watching those movies, we would go to the video store and we would just zip right past all the new releases and go right to the horror stuff. We were always looking for the most effed up scary box that we could see. We would always try to sneak that in with the (other) rentals with our parents. I've always loved horror movies. I think that horror movies and comedies, they're engineered the same way. They're definitely made to watch with others. You have to engineer in a way to like know how to pace out. Like with comedy, you can't just fill things full of jokes. You have to pace jokes and know how to hold off on the laugh at one place so that you could score a bigger laugh in another area. Horror works the same way. It's really about that tension and that pacing and being able to just know how to manipulate the audience to feel exactly what you want them to feel. That kind of engineering, as a writer, is just fun. It's challenging. There's a reward when you succeed in that because you get to take people on a roller-coaster ride."
As for his favorites, McBride of course mentions Halloween, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, and something called Chopping Mall.
With recent horror movies losing a sense of tension over the past few years (give or take a Get Out) and focusing instead on buckets of CGI gore, it's good to know that McBride plans to return the Halloween franchise to its tension-fueled roots. It could possibly be a little humorous, as well -- with Danny McBride behind the keyboard, anything is possible for this roller-coaster ride.