This article contains major Halloween spoilers.
How the tables have turned. For so many years, Michael Myers has been the Boogeyman of our nightmares, that all but nameless Shape who stalks our dreams. Or more precisely, the Shape who stalks babysitters dreams and every cinematic visage of (feminine) innocence that can be gutted. Until now.
During the closing moments of David Gordon Green’s grand legacy sequel to the original Halloween, three generations of Strode woman badassery stands above Michael Myers as the flames of Hell lick at his feet. How did this moment of triumph occur? Well, as it turns out, it is the beauty of a plan coming together. A plan that was decades in the making. In the film’s various scattershot flashbacks, it is revealed that Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) lost her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) to social services when the girl was only 12. Having trained Karen for the day that random stranger, Michael Myers, would come calling again, Laurie long intended this hidden basement of her house to be the killing stroke. No mere safe room, it is exactly as Karen says at the end: “This isn’t a cage; it’s a trap.”
And Michael walked right into it. This is what Laurie has been poking and prodding the monster toward since the third act of the movie began. She and Karen were technically safe beneath the basement that Michael had no way of knowing existed. However, Laurie alerts Michael to the basement’s presence by firing her shotgun at his feet, blasting a hole through the first floor’s hardwood. She then tells Karen she has to get him, abandoning her daughter to chase the monster toward the trap she taught Karen to play the bait for more than 30 years back. So it is that when Laurie goes up those stairs and starts hunting Michael, it is all a cat-and-mouse game intended to get Michael standing above those wooden steps.
When he does, Karen reverts to her maneuver that would have been just as effective if she were still a child: she cries, “I can’t do it,” while holding her own customized shotgun at the foot of the steps. This bawl of seeming weakness attracts Michael to what appears to be yet another woman he’ll mercilessly slaughter, like his older sister, like Laurie’s teenage friends, and like all the countless women who have been massacred at the end of a slasher killer’s knife/machete/hook/razor/or chainsaw. Yet herein lies the trap.
When Michael attempts to take a step into view, Karen smiles, “Gotcha.” She shoots Michael, and it is Laurie’s turn to come out of the shadows and stab the would-be stabber, placing him in her trap where he’ll burn like smoked meat. Even Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) gets in on the action by stabbing Michael’s arm as he attempts to pull her mother back into his funeral pit. This is the fate a proactive Laurie Strode has planned for the whole movie.
Because in this movie, not only are the tables turned, but so are the tropes. Michael Myers was created in the defining slasher movie. While others came before it (Psycho, Black Christmas, Texas Chain Saw Massacre), John Carpenter’s Halloween brought the fear of the Other home and into your neighborhood via “The Babysitter Murders” movie (the producers’ original title before Carpenter came aboard). The insidiousness of the concept did not become explicit, possibly even to Carpenter, until the knockoffs embraced the exploitation of young nubile women getting sliced and diced by men’s phallic weaponry.
To be sure, there are babysitter murders in Halloween (2018) too, but the real proactive character is Laurie Strode. Since she is no longer Michael’s sister in this new timeline—which is accurate to the original—he is a directionless killer, while she hunts him in the same way he stalked her. It is she framed in all the iconic Michael Myers moments, including as the silhouette watching a young girl’s high school class from outside, or the unstoppable force who vanishes below the second floor window she’d just been tossed. She is the one with the power, and all the generations of women tormented by the slasher trope are represented by the three heroines who stand above a completely impotent Michael Myers. He in turn can only watch on as the flames rise, and the inherent misogyny of his genre is burned to the ground.
The plan worked, and Laurie Strode killed her prey. Presumably, although the film intentionally left a backdoor open to the possibility of sequel since we never actually see Michael burn. Still, revenge is a dish best served with Halloween candy. There will probably be more Michael Myers movies after this, but there shouldn’t be.