The Halloween Saga: A Dramatic Shift
This last weekend marked the end of a 40+ year story of Laurie Strode and her battle with The Shape, aka Michael Myers with the release of Halloween Ends. A household name in the world of horror, John Carpenter’s Halloween was unleashed on audiences on October 25th, 1978.
The franchise has spawned a total of 13 movies, including 2 offshoot movies directed by Rob Zombie designed to be a re-imagining of sorts. In 2018 a new Halloween film was released. It was the beginning of a new trilogy and essentially makes Halloween II and subsequent sequels nonexistent in continuity.
How Michael Myers Changed
Michael Myers debuted in 1978 as a cold, calculated, and methodical killer. He also was very fond of his kitchen knife. After finding Laurie Strode dropping a key off at his childhood home, she became the sole object of his pursuit. He was the embodiment of the boogeyman, and his kills were focused on the idea of the “transgression.” It was built around killing those that did drugs, fornicated, etc…
Coming into the new trilogy, Michael became far more indiscriminate and brutal, his methods far more varied. He uses weapons like axes and light bulbs, among other things. There were some really strange choices made in terms of kills in the newer trilogy, in contrast to who Michael Myers always was.
The horror genre has evolved in many ways, but this trilogy is still a direct sequel to the first Halloween film. There has been no outside influence to cause Michael to change how he does things, yet he is very different. Seeing Michael evolve into this mindless brute is very disappointing.
In The Presence of Pure Evil
Although this new trilogy feels as though it really let down the concept of what the physical Michael Myers is, the effects his presence has on those that know of him are apparent and relatively well done.
It begins with the opening of Halloween (2018) in the sanitarium in which he has been confined. Two podcasters show up to attempt an interview, and he refuses to speak. One of them pulls his mask out, and the other residents begin to cower in fear as if the anger and evil emanating from him is tangible.
This theme is continued throughout the trilogy. The presence of Michael has such an effect on the town that those who lived through the 1978 killing spree feel it is their responsibility to make sure that “Evil dies tonight.” Those that were present during the 1978 spree begin to rally others into a frenzy that results in the death of someone they mistook for Michael. “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster…” is a common theme in this trilogy, but in different aspects. The town feels the fear of his presence, which ultimately becomes panic and anger. The way this carries over into Halloween Ends is clever. However, the finale has it’s fair share of issues.
How Did We End at Halloween Ends?
Halloween Ends takes place four years after the conclusion of Halloween Kills. Haddonfield feels somewhat safe, but there’s still a lingering of what seems like fear and grief.
The film begins with a young man named Corey who, in a tragic twist of fate brought on by the fear of Michael, inadvertently causes the death of a child whom he was babysitting. While legally it was deemed an accident, he is labeled by the people of the town as a child killer.
He eventually crosses paths with Michael, who has been in hiding for the last four years. Instead of Michael killing him there seems to be a connection made between the two. This is where my issues lie with the film. The “young person taking up the mantle” trope has never been well received in terms of horror icons. However, there is a slight difference here. This time there is a direct influence from Michael as opposed to someone just taking inspiration and being a copycat.
The Theme Remains, But in a Different Capacity
The theme of evil presence is expanded upon, as Laurie speaks with Corey, she informs him there are two kinds of evil. The two are, in essence, outside influence and evil from within. The presence of Michael turned the entire town of Haddonfield into an empty shell of what it was. People who had been, or one of their loved ones were, a victim of Michael needed somewhere else to direct their anger. This results in many deflecting blame back on Laurie.
Towards the end of the film, we see a completely different side of Laurie. In her final showdown with Michael, she becomes cold, calculated, and methodical. It’s worth noting she also develops a fondness of the kitchen knives. It leads one to believe that in the end, the presence of Michael makes the quote about battling monsters more even more relevant, as she essentially becomes what Michael was to defeat what Michael had become.
Halloween Ends is in theaters and streaming on Peacock now.