If you don’t think 1978’s Halloween is scary, try asking a woman for her opinion; a film about a man obsessively stalking a woman to the point of murder is something that is still far too relevant today. Watching Michael Myers, a hulking and ominous figure, peer at Laurie Strode, a young, seemingly powerless woman, behind a clothes-line or a bush is traumatizing there’s that lingering concern that we’ve met a Michael Myers in our lives.
This makes it all the more enraging when Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is approached by two reporters who want to know more about Michael Myers. They want to know what makes him human and want to try to understand him, while also criticizing Laurie for how she dealt with the aftermath (scarily similar to politicians wanting to humanize Brett Kavanaugh.) Laurie, clearly not taking any shit, boots them out the door and charges them $3,000 for her time.
In her breakout role, Curtis ran, screamed, and watched her friends get brutally murdered by a man in a mask but at the end of the film, she saves the kids she was babysitting and appears she defeats her inhuman adversary. As we know, the fight was far from over. The Halloween franchise spawned eleven films, with Curtis appearing in seven of them as the constantly hunted Laurie.
Everything gets the retcon treatment in the sequel. Michael (Nick Castle reprising his role) is in the midst of being transferred to a prison, and Laurie is anxiously awaiting his fate. Since that dreadful night, she has turned into a super soldier, training herself in shooting and other survivalist methods in case the Boogeyman were to ever return. This obsession has caused a rift with her daughter (Judy Greer) and granddaughter (Andi Matichak) who both think that she needs to get over this decades-old fear.
Trauma doesn’t just go away; it festers and can change someone forever. No longer is Laurie the preppy schoolgirl who wanted to go to college. Instead, she’s now a grief-stricken alcoholic who wants revenge. And, thankfully, the film focuses on her pain without making it a cheap plot device. Director/co-writer David Gordon Green takes time to introduce Laurie’s paranoid lifestyle. Her house is deep in the woods behind a “Do Not Trespass” gate and equipped with bright lights, an underground bunker, and a closet full of guns.
When Michael manages to escape imprisonment, he immediately falls back into his old ways. Whether it’s adults or children, no one is saved from Michael’s wrath as he terrorizes the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois. Even though Michael is primarily known for his impressive work with a kitchen knife, Green still manages to make his kills feel fresh. He implements some impressive tracking shots for as Michael quietly sneaks through people’s back doors and utilizes motion sensor lights to stage a clever death scene.
Halloween is first and foremost a fan’s film. Even though most of the franchise was retconned, there are still Easter eggs from previous sequels sprinkled throughout. Green heavily relies on famous scenes from the 1978 film to amass “ooh’s” and “aah’s” from the audience. A doctor who claims he understands Michael? Check. A female babysitter brutally murdered after bringing a guy over? Check. Someone peeking over the clothes line? Check Check Check. And while it’s great to see the sheet ghost or balcony scene again, the film’s dependency on nostalgia prevents it from having its own identity.
It’s clear Green, Danny McBride, and Jeff Fradley love and respect the franchise but perhaps too much to the point where they didn’t want to tarnish it. Even when it has its chance to tell a different story with Laurie, they choose to go down the “strong female character” trope where she is emotionless and lacks a real character arc besides getting revenge on the man who attacked her. Maybe the writers should have consulted with women writers to get a better idea of how to form Laurie and then perhaps the lack of originality could have been overlooked.