Slashers never die, and while Michael Myers might not be the first we’d ever seen on the big screen (the faceless antagonist of Black Christmas or the infamous Leatherface probably have that distinction), he is often thought of as the ultimate example of the immortal, masked killer. A shape in the darkness with a blade in hand, present only as long as it takes to spill blood before vanishing into the shadows once again.
I’ll be honest with you, though, I was never much of a fan of Michael. While I saw the original Halloween because it’s a classic, I’ve always been on Team Voorhees (even went so far as to write a piece titled 5 Reasons Jason Voorhees is One of The Greatest Slashers). However, that meant that when I went to see 2018’s Halloween (a supposed sequel to the original 1978 effort), I didn’t have half a dozen movies worth of existing continuity to forget and ignore in order to keep my timeline straight. Because, as most of us know, this film ignores everything other than the original 1978 release.
And as a sequel to that, I think it’s pretty damn good.
Destiny and Darkness
If you’ve seen any of the previews for this film, then you already know what it’s about.
At the end of the original film, Michael was captured, and put into a facility for the criminally insane. He’s been there for 40 years, silent and unresponsive. Laurie Strode (once again played by Jamie Lee Curtis) has been living in isolation, preparing for the day that the Bogeyman returns again. She’s had a string of failed relationships, lost custody of her daughter, and lives in a cabin that she’s turned into a shooting range, and filled with death traps. Most people think she’s crazy… at least until Michael escapes on Halloween night.
From that point on, I don’t think I need to tell you how the movie goes. Michael stalks through Haddonfield, leaving corpses in his wake, soaking up inhuman punishment while our heroes (heroines, if we’re honest here) do everything they can to stop him. Are they successful? I’m not telling, go see the damn movie yourself!
What I can say is that this 2018 film has some dark rivers running just under the surface. Since it’s set in the modern era, it shows how society has moved on since 1978. We see how teens today have changed (and just as importantly how they haven’t), but we also see how the modern day sees Michael. On the one hand, some characters see him as quaint – a relic of another time. A guy who killed a handful of babysitters with a knife? In the era of weekly mass shootings, that wouldn’t even make the back page of most news sites. On the flip side, though, Michael has become the object of obsession for many people. This reflects the burgeoning societal interest in serial killers, and the need to find what makes them tick.
We also see a return to form in another way. Because while Dr. Loomis might be dead in this film, we have him on record saying that Michael is not a man; he is a force of pure evil. This seems like hyperbole, but the more we see of Michael, the more we realize he is not a man; he is a force of nature. He is the dark spirit that lurks outside the fire, the judgment of forgotten gods… he is, in a very real sense, the implacable, unstoppable force of destiny.
As you watch the 2018 film, you see the usual kind of callbacks we’ve come to expect to the original. However, they aren’t so much there as Easter eggs as they are to form a pattern. They show a cycle that repeats time and time again. From Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson also being inducted into the Honor’s Society (a position Laurie herself had in high school), to a repeat of a scene in a classroom discussing the elemental nature of fate, there are little bits of déjà vu all over the place. When you notice that some of Michael’s new kills are almost identical to his old ones (though sometimes backwards, showing that this is an echo instead of a repeat), we get the sense that this is all happening again.
The thing that really strikes home, though, is that everything Michael touches is destroyed. His doctor is obsessed with him, unable to wrap his mind around Michael’s essential inhumanity. Laurie alienated her family, becoming a dangerous hunter herself as she prepared for the day that she knew would come. The journalists who are trying to get a handle on what happened think they understand the case, but they realize too late that Michael is not just another serial killer. Anyone who was there the night of the original film still carries the stain of it with them, and it has grown over the years.
Michael Myers is just one man with a knife. But in a world that feels it has quantified psychosis, where we all believe we can peek into even the most damaged psyche and trace the lines of what happened, he represents something we do not know how to deal with.
As Dr. Loomis said, Michael is evil. Not only that, but he is a kind of evil that no one knew how to stop in 1978, and that no one seems to know how to stop now, if the soundtrack on the end credits is any indication.
Lastly, if this Halloween season has you in slasher mode, then you might want to check out 5 Famous Slashers (And Their Real-Life Counterparts). If nothing else, it should help you get a playlist of classic movies ready for after you’ve seen this one.