**Spoiler Alert** This is more of a “my thoughts” than a legit review. I am going to discuss specific plot points and giving away the end, so if you haven’t seen it, don’t read this yet. Once you do, come back and we’ll discuss.
I’ll just start this off by putting it out there first thing;
The 1978 Halloween is in my favorites list of horror movies and by far my favorite Halloween movie. It’s my favorite of all the 80’s “teen slasher films”. I wasn’t such a fan of the sequels. I only saw H2O once, but I’ve seen Halloween 4, “The Return of Michael Myers” about 50+ times because that’s the one that’s was on cable, on repeat, the entire month of October the year I spent four weeks on bedrest.
I know most people prefer the comedic and ridiculous (yet almost always) righteous deaths in Friday the 13th. People love Jason with his tragic story turned supernatural nightmare, as he plagues his Camp on the Crystal Lake ridding it of the bullies, the sluts, the apathetic brats who remind him of his own fate. Others prefer the dark sarcasm and sinister comedy of Freddy in Nightmare on Elm Street and I totally get it! He’s funny and since dreams are inescapable, it’s not only an awesome way to kill someone creatively, but dreams and sleep are simply a part of being human. There’s no getting around the fact that we must sleep eventually. So, it’s not that these other franchises and many others don’t hold special places in my heart, it’s just that none take up the space carved out for Michael Myers, Laurie Strode and the original Halloween.
Perhaps it’s because he is one of the only characters throughout his lifespan that has remained truly shrouded. Veiled to such a degree that even now, so many years later, we are still trying to understand him, daring him to speak, begging him to give us some shred of insight. Monsters are always better before you see them and once you do, some of their power is taken away. The big reveal breaks the spell. Michael’s spell as never been broken, so his terror lives forever.
It could also be because I related to Laurie in my teens – often the baby of the group, the most innocent and sheltered, I had a hard time fitting in and often had to be coerced into doing “naughty” things, always worrying about the consequences.
Mostly though, I think it has to do with the psychology of Michael. You don’t know what he’s thinking and the absence of understanding makes him forever untouchable. It’s our nature to want to touch the untouchable. To try and reach the unreachable. As humans, when we see something we can’t understand, we need to try to crack it. We want to be the one to get inside and know that unknowable thing.
Michael’s unpredictable nature is like a shark or a spider or some kind of poisonous snake. Black eyes and void of expression, he’s a predator without motive outside instinct. While you may understand a shark, what they are and what they might do, you never feel safe in their presence. Even with a hundred precautionary measures in place, you can never trust them NOT to harm you and you could never consider letting your guard down.
There were few characters in the American horrorverse of Michael’s era who were equally complex and somehow simultaneously simplistic. No one else gave so little of his motivation or intentions. Any explanation or insight came from others who were only guessing and for all their knowing, always ended up dead. He is called “The Shape”, “The Boogieman” and he will forever be a fascinating enigma.
Laurie Strode is also one of my favorite characters in the American horror genre. She’s one of the most resilient, powerful women in horror, in my opinion. She has endured and has, herself, become an archetype.
Starting out as a young teenager who is extremely naïve, Laurie endures unspeakable horrors on a Halloween night yet somehow manages to not only stay alive but beat back her attacker, protect the children in her care and survive while all her more worldly friends die.
She is the “every girl”, the simple, sweet and foolish “girl Next door”, the symbol of an ideal in a broken world.
She’s not slutty, she’s not stupid. She’s responsible and kind and takes care of her friends even when they call her “baby” and make fun of how silly she is. She doesn’t get bitter and she doesn’t abandon them. She’s mature and compassionate and strong.
As these stories have evolved, we see that Laurie has been shaped by the trauma she endured.
In this version of her story, (which is my favorite so far) Laurie does take on a somewhat predictable character nature as the hard-core survivalist grandmother with a screwed up family and no social life, but here’s why I think that’s alright;
As I said, we’ve heard and seen these themes of the victim becoming the killer before. From Resident Evil to The Terminator, Day of the dead, Alien… the “strong woman” is definitely a thing we’ve seen.
But Laurie Strode is different. Why? What makes her different?
A few things, actually.
For one, we have literally followed this same individual, this same actress portraying her for over 40 years. When we see her, we’re not just seeing her as a character, we see Jamie Lee Curtis and we instantly know this character on a deep, personal level. We remember her as she was and believe who she is now more completely. We are more willing to be there with her because we HAVE been there with her, since 1978. When I saw Laurie in this movie, I saw the babysitter grown-up. Hardened and sharpened by the trauma she endured. I know her character like I know my sisters. If it hadn’t been Jamie Lee Curtis playing Laurie, I am absolutely certain I wouldn’t feel the same and I probably wouldn’t have liked this movie much.
Another thing about Laurie is she’s not already a warrior. In so many other stories, the girl who fights back is already a fighter, already hardened somehow. Laurie isn’t any of those things, quite the opposite – yet she is hardened like steel in the flame and becomes strong in ways we all wish we could be. She shows us it’s possible. She reminds us we can fight, not flee. Sure, her coping skills need some work, but she remains beautifully human throughout this story making her all the more touchable, tangible, more like us.
Laurie is also and possibly most importantly, showing us the world we live in today. We have seen the hunted becomes the huntress scenario before, we haven’t yet seen her in the world, the world of 2018.
All over the planet, innocent girls have become strong women and are fighting back in REAL life. Laurie’s character means more than just a character in a story about a killer on Halloween. This time, she is pulling us up with one hand, putting a shotgun in the other and telling us to get on with it.
I’ve always said that horror films are an excellent social commentary of the world we live in. What scares us and what defines us and what empowers us in our mythology is directly related to the real world spinning around us and right now, in OUR world, the story of a woman who has been broken by the trauma she experienced in her innocent teen years by vicious attacker… it hits home.
Which is why now when that same, broken girl, now a splintered, hyper-focused woman is able to rise above her pain, take control and kick The Shape’s ass, it’s a whole new level of satisfying.
The story ends with three generations of women destroying the attacker who broke their family. It’s extremely powerful, deliciously gratifying and, side note; I seriously want her house.
When I got home from the midnight movie on opening night, my husband asked me; “so, is he actually dead this time?”
“I hope not”, I said. I then spent the next hour wide awake, my mind spinning. We can’t have Batman without the Joker. We can’t raise Michael from the dead just to kill him, not when Laurie is such a powerful force, but I don’t know if it makes sense to keep him alive now.
They never actually showed him dying… I mean, there’s no way he could have made it out of a burning basement, but… until they literally show him in pieces, burned and scattered to the four winds, I will never believe he’s actually gone for good. I’m hoping he isn’t and in the same breath, I hope he is. I think both Michael AND Laurie still have stories to tell, but I would be perfectly satisfied closing the book on this story for good and leaving well enough alone.
Some other things worth mentioning;
The fonts, colors and intro was amazing, nostalgic and perfect. You understood in the first five minutes exactly what you were about to see.
The music was on point 100% of the time, adding to the scenes without overpowering and always with the nostalgic thread of continuity.
So many scenes, camera angles, cameos, places you know with familiar people and neighborhoods … it truly is the feeling of coming home all through the movie.
Now, you may be thinking I’m completely forgetting or ignoring the entangled plot lines of the various sequels. I didn’t forget the family connection scenarios, I didn’t forget Danielle Harris. I saw her video where she explained her lack of involvement when she really wanted to be involved. I know. But honestly, this version of Michael, this version of Laurie… this story doesn’t have to involve ANY of the points created by ANY of those other films whatsoever. In fact, I loved how it seemed as though you could take the original Halloween and set it right up against this new one as the ONLY continuation of the story and it would be perfect.
We can erase all the others in the middle, completely forget about the trash sequels and sacrilegious rockstar spin-offs. They talk about the death of his original doctor, but not in a way that makes you feel like you needed to have seen the sequel that showed his death and they never mention the possible family tree connections. It really can pick up after the first and take you into this new story seamlessly.
Also, I love that he is just a guy. He’s not some supernatural monster. He’s just a dude who kills people who is really tricky and constantly underestimated.
All in all, I felt it was an excellent piece of nostalgia told in a way that speaks to us now without distorting it, only adding to it.