The final moments of Halloween were an inevitable conundrum for director David Gordon Green (Stronger). Forty years after the events of John Carpenter’s original, this week’s “legacyquel” gives former Final Girl Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) a chance at revenge against her serial killer Michael Myers. Green and his co-writer Danny McBride (yes, that Danny McBride) scrapped seven sequels — and two rebootquels — worth of mythology in favor of telling an emotional story about Laurie’s long-dwelled-upon confrontation with her assailant and the potential for healing by fire.
But how do they put a button on Laurie’s arc while staying true to the semi-supernatural mythology of Michael Myers? Green tells Polygon he tried to be faithful and true in every way possible, a decision that may send fans’ minds reeling when the credits start to roll.
[Ed. note: this post contains major spoilers for the ending of Halloween.]
At the end of Halloween, Laurie’s nightmare (and, perhaps, dream) comes true: not only is Michael Myers free again, rampaging through Haddonfield, Illinois without mercy, but he’s back at her doorstep — and falling into her trap. Laurie was ready for this. Her cabin in the woods is part panic room, part Home Alone from hell, equipped with enough booby traps that lead the serial killer to riiiiiight where she wants him.
While Green orchestrates the finale like a cat and mouse game, and with a substantial amount of brutality, it’s the mice — Laurie, her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) — who catch the cat, locking Michael in the panic room and torching the house. In theory, our villain burns up to a crisp.
So did Michael Myers die in Halloween? By design, the ending wasn’t exactly the Halloween: H20 head-slicing.
As Laurie’s bunker burns, the family flees, hitchhiking their way to safety. But Green’s camera creeps back into the home, checking in once more with what we assume is Michael’s paralyzed body. But we don’t see it — or do we? Is the camera just a little too high to notice him? Did he survive? It’s not an “a-ha!” sequel setup moment that many horror franchise installments would serve up, nor is it a definitive conclusion to Michael’s killing spree either.
”In that shot that you’re referring to,” Green explains, “if you [could] linger it for another three seconds, you see him. Or you don’t see him, you’re more confident in what you’ve seen. I’ll say, it’s a two second shot, which is not enough for you to be confident in what you saw.”
Worth noting: throughout this explanation, Green cackles with laughter. For the director, the ambiguity of that final moment — and the potential for more Michael — is also part of the spirit of the franchise.
”That, to me, is the fun. When you see the original film, you hear him breathing and you know that he lives on. Here, when we see the burning house, we actually hear Allyson breathing from the truck where she’s flagged off of a truck driver and she’s breathing heavily, turns, and then we go into the answer to that house and it’s burning, but we’re hearing her breath over it, which depending on what theater you hear it, it’s super subtle.”
Green says that in the various screenings he’s attended, that specific shot makes everyone insecure. “Part of it is that playfulness,” he says. “Maybe it’s done. Maybe this is the last story. Maybe it’s not.”
Halloween is definitely not the last Michael Myers as far as producer Jason Blum is concerned. After luring David Gordon Green, securing Jamie Lee Curtis — a roundabout process involving Curtis’ godson Jake Gyllenhaal, who starred in Green’s Stronger, connecting the actress and director — and shepherding the film with original director John Carpenter, the producer isn’t ready to let his reenergized franchise go.
”I hope it’s the beginning of multiple Blumhouse Halloweens,” Blum tells Polygon.
Green says he would return for a sequel ... if the follow-up grabs him. But right now, considering his roller coaster career — zipping from studio comedies (Pineapple Express), prestige dramas (Our Brand Is Crisis) and less conventional indies (Prince Avalanche) — he’s just crossing his fingers for the success of Halloween.
”We’ve got to make a hit out of this,” he says “but if there’s a cool idea and there’s good opportunity, sure.” Whether they’d want him back also depends on how much money the movie rakes in. “It’s kind of up to this one to make me more commercially relevant because that’s long since faded,” he jokes. But not for long.