How do we reckon with the presence of evil in the world? Halloween (2018), the latest contribution to the Halloween franchise begun by John Carpenter and his collaborators back in 1978, offers us many different responses to Michael Myers and his impact on the world, but it clearly prefers one specific answer to this question.
We can study, assess, and classify evil, its causes, effects, and practitioners, as Dr. Sartain has chosen to do with Myers. We can imprison it and confine it to a sanitarium. We can commodify our interest in it, as the film’s two true crime podcasters do. We can trivialize it and normalize it, as one high schooler does early in the film when he compares the body count of the original events Halloween to the larger scenes of violence of recent years. We can disavow its impact and try to live lives beyond its purview, keep a safe distance from it and all those it has touched, as the Strodes seem to do with Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), the one family member who refuses to ignore its endurance and move past its impact. We can attempt to box it in, draw flimsy lines of protection between it and us, as the sanitarium’s staff does with Myers in the film’s opening scenes, establishing boundaries it has no way of truly policing and enforcing, as the rest of the film and its ultraviolence demonstrates. We can tell ourselves that we are confronting it, as one of the movie’s podcasters attempts to do, holding up the iconic Michael Myers mask, demanding that the evil who wears it accept his courage, his desire to acknowledge and understand the evil in the world. But evil doesn’t play by these rules, offers no explanation that proves satisfying to its victims, no rationale that justifies our intellectual curiosity about its longevity.