Michael Myers is back and his old victim Laurie Strode couldn’t be happier. The Halloween 2018 trailer reveals that she’s been training for this very moment for 40 years, setting up an interesting subversion of the classic horror series that also addresses a longstanding criticism of the original 1978 film.
The first Halloween was a runaway success. It opened with little to no advertising and was panned by reviewers who dismissed it as derivative and cheap, but it ended up grossing $47 million dollars with a meager budget of $325,000 dollars. Today, the film is recognized as a horror classic and the archetypical slasher flick, but not without fault. After all, Laurie never gets the best of Michael in Halloween and Halloween II. In both films, she’s saved by the intervention of Dr. Sam Loomis.
That’s a complicated legacy, but ultimately one that’s been bearing good fruit. Halloween propelled Jamie Lee Curtis to stardom and established the trope of the scream queen, which is responsible for casting many women in leading roles for horror films and even equalizing the pay gap. The new Halloween sequel looks primed to uphold that legacy.
For years, Michael Myers has been viewed as an avatar for the darkest side of humanity with a particularly misogynistic bent. He’s a violent male sadist who preys upon teenage girls from safe, quiet suburbs.
But the Laurie we see in the new Halloween is no longer the terrified babysitter we saw in the first film. She’s a hardened woman who’s ready for a long overdue rematch. Both Laurie and Michael want revenge, but for slightly different reasons.
Laurie wants to put Michael down because he tried to murder her. Michael’s reasons for revenge are far more banal. He doesn’t want to kill her because of anything she did to him. He wants to kill her because she got away. It’s a brilliant acknowledgement of how some dark parts of horror fandom looked to Michael Myers as a power fantasy. Michael is not driven by self-defense or a desire to correct some wrong done against him. He simple feels entitled to Laurie’s life and she had the audacity to resist.
That pettiness, especially when compared to Laurie’s well-deserved desire for revenge, is what makes Michael Myers such a horrifying villain, and a particularly timely one for 2018.
Halloween hits theaters on Halloween 2018.