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Dread is the modern condition – no wonder the Halloween franchise still resonates | Anna Bogutskaya

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Dt over the past 18 months we have collectively felt more anxiety than we ever could have imagined, which ironically makes sense that our appetite for horror has increased. Anxious times demand anxious movies.

Independent filmmakers responded to the blockages by making horror films that reflected our mood: Ben Wheatley made the psychedelic horror of the earth, Into the Earth, infiltrated pandemic paranoia, and Rob Savage exploited the horror of Zoom calls with Host. Releases of major franchises such as The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Spiral: From the Book of Saw and A Quiet Place Part II was pushed back for release in theaters and did relatively well at the box office. But none have broken records like Halloween Kills, the 12th installment in the long-running franchise, which has released both in theaters and online. The film topped the box office on its first weekend in U.S. theaters, grossing over $ 50 million. The streaming service Netflix also joined in, uploading six of the Halloween films in time for the new release.

Is there something about the franchise that speaks to the moment we are in? There are only two constants in a real Halloween movie: Laurie Strode and Michael Myers (aside from questionable Rob Zombie reboots and the third installment, Halloween III: Season of the Witch). Well, that and the synthetic goodness of John Carpenter’s original score.

The chief antagonist, Myers – in the 1978 film and in reboots – is introduced as The Shape. Nick Castle, who played him in the John Carpenter and Debra Hill original, was asked to just walk from A to B. No story. No emotion. No humanity. Myers has been subjected to relentless attempts to eliminate him, and yet he continues to live, coming back to the same town, the same house.

And the same goes for Strode, played since the original by Jamie Lee Curtis. While Myers remains an ageless form hidden under William Shatner’s white mask (in a fun twist, the mask ages), Strode has carried the burden of fear with her for 40 years. She is the beating heart of the movies. While Myers could be the empty void of evil, she is a complete human being, imperfect, bruised and clinging to life. When I interviewed Curtis, she spoke of her unexpected heroine’s vulnerability: “We’ve wanted to take care of her all these years.”

The palpable terror in Curtis’ performance has morphed over the years into something more empathetic, something that we can connect with more intensely now that we too have been so intensely afraid of the world around us and the forces. unstoppable. Strode knows that no matter where she is, the possibility of Myers appearing has never gone away. Fear is a certainty that Strode has to live with – just like us.

Being afraid has become the default for many of us, and it may seem fair to hold on to supernatural stories when the natural world seems so out of hand. Myers is the shapeless, faceless bogeyman we project our own personal anxieties onto. We can feel the fear, and especially the release of it, when we watch these movies. Halloween the franchise always taunts us with the death of the bogeyman, but he is never truly defeated. And Strode still has to face him. It is why we keep coming back to these movies, because it reminds us that we must continue to face our own fears head-on.

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