'Halloween' Is Bringing Mystique Back to the Franchise
Michael Myers is coming home again.
Friday morning, Universal released the trailer for its Blumhouse-produced Halloween. The sequel, directed by David Gordon Green and produced by the master of horror himself, John Carpenter, ignores all entries from the franchise except for Carpenter’s 1978 original. Freed from the burden of seven sequels and two entries of Zombie’s reboot, which added mythology and backstory that garnered mixed reception, Green and co-writer Danny McBride may just be able give the mystique back to the evil surrounding MichaeMl Myers and maybe reignite an interest in slasher movies for modern audiences as well.
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Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode, who, along with her daughter and granddaughter, will once again encounter her own personal boogeyman, Michael Myers, after waiting and preparing for his inevitable return for forty years. The last time audiences saw Myers was in Rob Zombie’s Halloween II (2009). While the journey to seeing the Halloween franchise return to big screen has been a long and storied one, something the series’ slasher movie counterpart Friday the 13th can also attest to, Green and McBride are taking the character back to his roots.
The original Halloween movie ended with Michael Myers, referred to as The Shape in the credits, being shot by his psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence), and subsequently falling off a balcony. In true horror fashion, when Loomis looks down to confirm his kill, Myers has disappeared and all we hear is his breathing as Carpenter takes viewers through the town of Haddonfield and implies that he’s still out there. The new Halloween trailer quickly dispatches the notion that Myers has been hiding or on the run for the past forty years. Captured that very Halloween night in 1978, Myers has spent decades in an institution. This raises several questions about his custody, specifically in terms of why investigators are looking into the murders he committed forty years later. The offering of Myers’ mask seems like a dangerous tactic to get a response, unless of course the man in the institution isn’t really Michael Myers…
Laurie Strode isn’t taking any chances when it comes to Myers' returns. She still bears the scars, both physically and mentally, from her initial encounter with him that left all of her friends dead. Choosing to reside in Haddonfield, Laurie has become the town nutcase, preparing for a battle her family and neighbors don’t believe will come. Her efforts to protect her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) and daughter Karen (Judy Greer), despite their disbelief in the “boogeyman,” could ultimately have devastating consequences. One of the most appealing aspects of Laurie’s character in the original film is how smart and tactical she is, yet is still able to recognize the illogical and preternatural when it bumps up against comfortable reality. This characterization seems to have followed her to adulthood as Laurie displays a skill with firearms and the ability to turn her home into a safe house, but with an almost supernatural awareness that her business with Michael has not yet reached its end game, no matter how all of that would seemingly prepare her if he were but a normal man.
“He’s waited for this night. He’s waited for me. I’ve waited for him, “Laurie says, but the question of why Michael remains so interested in Laurie, and on this particular day, after all these years, still remains. The film dispatches of the previous plot point that Michael Myers is Laurie’s brother – a concept that was originally introduced in the Carpenter and Debra Hill scripted Halloween II (1981). Laurie’s granddaughter, Allyson, makes direct reference to this change in the franchise’s continuity by dispelling the family connection as a rumor, and thus doing away with all facets of Myers that made him knowable. Family ties aren’t the only reference the trailer makes to the previous entries, as Michael’s murder of the gas station attendant and stealing his clothes is a callback to Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988), while the terror he inflicts on the inhabitant of a bathroom stall recalls a similar scene early on in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998). Even though Halloween is wiping the slate clean, it’s clear the film will have plenty of references and Easter eggs for longtime fans of the series. These franchise pillars may ease viewers into a place of comfortable familiarity, but it’s likely that any feelings of security that come from knowing what this film has in store will likely be carved away.
While this first trailer is sparse on giving audiences a sense of these characters outside of Laurie, it does provide a clear concept of what Green is going for in terms of aesthetics. While there are remnants of Carpenter’s style seen here, perhaps exacerbated by the familiar soundtrack of which Carpenter will once again compose, Halloween falls closer to the look of Green’s other work, like HBO's Vice Principals.
While Carpenter’s Haddonfield was imbued with small-town comfort of the 20th century, Green’s Haddonfield in this trailer looks like the decayed and dying space of a struggling middle-class in the 21st century familiar to 2018. Amidst the nicely decorated and lived in space of these homes, the outside landscape is marked by dead trees and hues of brown and gray, as opposed to the more classical autumnal look of Carpenter’s film. Myers’ invasion of Haddonfield seems like the outside enclosing in. Green and McBride have both displayed an interest in class and small-town fallibility in their previous projects such as HBO's Eastbound and Down. With horror films becoming increasingly intelligent, it feels like a safe bet that this latest Halloween will have more to offer than slasher tropes and body counts on “the night HE comes home.” After ten entries in the Halloween franchise, this film may prove that behind the references, familiar faces, and iconic music, we still don’t know anything about Michael Myers – and that is terrifying.
Halloween opens Oct. 19.
by Graeme McMillan
by Patrick Shanley