WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Halloween, now in theaters.
In the original Halloween, Michael Myers was established as a seemingly unstoppable killer. He was more of a force of nature than anything, failing to die from any of the serious injuries he suffers over the course of the film, only to escape at the end after being shot and knocked off a roof. One of the best aspects of that film is that there was no explanation, motivation or reason how he could survive so many otherwise fatal injuries. Like the nature of evil itself, his power was left disconcertingly mysterious.
The latest Halloween, however, suggests that there might be more to Michael Myers and his murderous intentions. Little pieces of the film hint at something more supernatural at play with Michael Myers this time around, and the impact he has on the rest of the world around him as a result. Is there something magical about Michael Myers ?
The Power Of A Mask
The moment that reestablishes Michael Myers for the audience in the new Halloween comes when two true-crime podcasters visit the mental hospital housing Michael Myers. One of them approaches him holding the mask that Michael wore years ago during his original murderous rampage, to get the otherwise non-responsive Michael to do... something.
Withdrawing the mask sets something off in the courtyard. Other mental patients begin to scream and shout. Guard dogs growl, bark and even recoil in terror of Michael, suggesting something unnatural. It’s a dark and mysterious moment, giving Michael a power he never had in the original film.
Showing Michael the mask ends up prompting him to escape his transport to prison and go on an entirely new killing spree, suggesting that it was a potential reunion with the mask that shocked him from a non-responsive state back into that of a murder machine. Did seeing the mask trigger him, or did the mask wake something in him that was sleeping?
The Man Behind The Mask
Another moment when the mask seemingly brought out the darkness in the world comes after Michael has been hit by car driven by Officer Hawkins. The doctor assigned to Michael, Doctor Sartain, checks Michael’s vitals and announces that he’s dead.
Hawkins moves forward to make sure he stays that way by shooting him in the head, but Sartain turns and stabs Hawkins in the neck. Committed to understanding the evil that drives Michael, Sartain tries embracing the darkness to learn from it. That’s when he pulls the mask off Michael's face and dons it himself.
His breathing becomes heavier, his movements more deliberate and harsh. He practically turns into Michael Myers for a moment. He drags Michael to the car and loads him in haphazardly, waiting for Michael to return to the land of the living. Sartain takes off the mask and finally starts talking again.
In those moments where Sartain was wearing the mask, he became something different; something crueler, colder. It’s almost like the mask turned him into Michael Myers for a moment. If that is the case, it speaks to something more dangerous than just a masked killer.
Every attempt to make Michael Myers human, or give him purpose, has felt false to the concept. That is why Doctor Loomis, from the first film, insisted on referring to Michael as an “it” instead of “him.” There’s no humanity to the character, no soul or heart or mind; leaving that darkness unexplainable through natural means actually improves the film.
As such, the legend of Michael Myers becomes more frightening, his presence more malevolent. It should never be exposed what that supernatural element is or what it wants, however, since that would remove the mystery altogether. But Halloween suggests that the darkness within Michael isn’t restricted to one man. It’s something that can survive... and spread.
Any of us could become Michael Myers. And that’s more frightening than any jump scare.
Halloween, directed by David Gordon Green and starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner, Nick Castle, Jefferson Hall, Rhian Rees, Toby Huss, and Haluk Bilginer, is currently in theatres.