I first saw the original Halloween around ten years ago when I was on a classic horror movie kick. Although I loved it–especially that impressive long, single take that opens the movie–I’m not sure I fully appreciated that it really pioneered that whole wave of slashers.
I definitely remember being really frustrated with Laurie as Michael was hunting her down in the original. WHY WOULD YOU LEAVE HIS KNIFE BEHIND AND NOT CHECK IF HE’S ACTUALLY DEAD??!? GET IT TOGETHER, LAURIE!!!!
These days, I have a little more understanding for what her character would have been going through. She was just a teenager, and it’s not like any of us think super clearly when the whole fight-flight-or-freeze instinct kicks in. Plus, she managed to save both kids she was babysitting (I mean, spoiler alert I guess, but if you haven’t seen it in the last 40 years, that’s on you), and was a total badass using a knitting needle to defend herself.
Given my love for the original, and my own experiences with PTSD, I was really interested to hear that the new Halloween would focus on Laurie’s lasting trauma after surviving that terrible night with Michael Myers 40 years ago. I entered the theatre last week with high hopes… and more than a little apprehension that maybe I wasn’t ready to watch a slasher on the big screen.
Although I did have to watch a couple parts from behind the safety of my scarf, the movie somehow managed to exceed my super-high expectations. I loved everything about it, from the inclusion of yet another masterful long single take, to Jamie Lee Curtis’s stellar performance, to the film’s insights about the effects of trauma–not just on the person who experienced it firsthand, but also on their loved ones. I do have some complicated feelings about seeing Laurie be such a badass. On one hand, it’s always awesome (and refreshing) to see a woman take charge and kick ass. On the other, it was borne out of trauma, so I don’t want to glorify it so much that I take away from the pain her character would have experienced underneath it all.
I don’t want to say too much more about the movie for fear of spoiling anything, but I will say that some of my favourite parts were moments that played on or subverted the original. I’ve read some reviews that didn’t like how many jokes there were in the movie, saying that it caused some weird tonal shifts. Personally, I liked that. That’s how life is. One second you can be laughing about some stupid shit that your friend said, and the next second the boogeyman is there fucking things up for you. I mean, sure, it’s typically not quite so dramatic a shift (thankfully most people don’t have to deal with Michael Myers), but life doesn’t give us musical cues to let us know that some shit’s about to go down, so we should cool it on the jokes.
I’m really glad that we got a chance to catch up with Laurie Strode, and I’m even happier that the movie took her trauma seriously. This movie totally deserves all the success its had so far!