There are few rules in horror movies. Basically, if it’s scary, it’s allowed. It’s this quintessential movie magic that allows slow-moving knife-wielding maniacs to keep pace with fleeing teens, stops people from moving out of their haunted house, and causes cell phone reception to fail at the least convenient times.
And yet, despite this, there’s one rule that horror movies must abide by if they want to be, well, good. They have to stick to their own rules; otherwise, they stand as much chance with the critics as a promiscuous teen at Camp Crystal Lake. Don’t take my word for it though, I just watch movies for a living – take the word of someone whose filmmaking feats (or should that be feets) have made him a legend, Quentin Tarantino.
When the superb It Follows hit theatres, Tarantino was annoyed with it for just being a “good” movie when it could have been a “great” movie. In an interview with Vulture, the Pulp Fiction director explained how David Robert Mitchell “broke his mythology left, right, and centre.” His major problem was that we’re told the titular ‘It’ disguises itself as “anyone” to get close to its target, yet it makes its life much more difficult by choosing the most obvious form possible. “The movie keeps on doing things like that, not holding on to the rules that it sets up,” he explained.
Of course, you might be wondering what all this has to do with Michael Myers, the alabaster faced murderer who menaces the good folk of Haddonfield in the Halloween film series.
Well, we’re concerned about the direction of the franchise, to be honest. In new trailers for Halloween Kills it’s suggested that Myers may not just be a normal, albeit incredibly tough, serial killer but something more. As Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie puts it, “The more he kills, the more he transcends.”
I think this breaks a fundamental rule established in John Carpenter’s original 1978 masterpiece: that Michael is just a man and nothing more. More than that, I’d argue that making Michael some kind of supernatural being who grows stronger the more he kills completely undermines what made him such an interesting antagonist in the first place.
As Donald Pleasance’s Doctor Loomis explains in Halloween (1978), Michael is “purely and simply… evil”. That reductive viewpoint might strip him of any ambiguity or nuance but it makes him extremely effective as a horror icon.
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Michael represents the horrifying banality of evil, the lurking danger in every town across the world that a neighbour might grab a knife and go on a rampage one day. It’s why he’s effectively faceless and doesn’t talk. He could be anyone. He is everyone. He’s the dark side of human nature in a navy jumpsuit, and it’s horrifying.
To give him supernatural powers would, ironically, rob him of this power. He’d go from that stranger waiting on the street with sinister intentions to something otherworldly and beyond us. Sure it makes him more dangerous, but it abstracts him from the thing that made him scary in the first place; he’d be just another slasher in the vein of Jason or Freddy.
It’s time to address the elephant in the room, the fact that Michael actually has been established as a supernatural force in the past. Back before David Gordon Green’s reboot, and Rob Zombie’s remake, and even Steve Miner’s reboot, we had to suffer through the Thorn Trilogy, a loose storyline running through Halloween 4 to Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers.
These films revealed Michael’s murderous impulses were the result of supernatural shenanigans by a group known as the Thorn cult. This collection of bozos curse Michael with the curse of Thorn, which compels those afflicted to sacrifice their next of kin on the night of Halloween.
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This narrative culdesac managed to do two things at once. First, it made Michael a strangely sympathetic character, which seems like a strange subversion after five films of him being an out and out bastard.
Two, it turned his pursuit of Laurie in Halloween less a random act of violence and into a bland supernatural sacrifice, retroactively robbing that film of the thing that made it scary in the first place.
We could go on explaining why The Curse of Michael Myers is an awful movie; it’s critical and financial failure speak for itself, that and, while we don’t use real ink here at The Digital Fix, we’re worried we’d run out of pixels complaining about a 26-year-old slasher movie.
Perhaps there’s nothing to worry about, though. In an interview with Zavvi’s online magazine, The Lowdown, Halloween Kills director David Gordon Green was asked whether he thought Michael was a supernatural being to which he said: “My overriding thought is he’s not a supernatural character – he’s just spectacular.” But like old Dr Loomis, we can’t help but be paranoid, what if this is another Halloween trick?