The common stereotype that surrounds a horror film includes that of ghosts, monsters, aliens, a combination of any of the three or a chaotic mixture of all. It is usually thought of as an abstraction, totally divorced from reality and we find solace in such a thought. It is because of this notion that we can safely walk in and out of a movie theatre after watching a horror movie, regardless of how disturbing it may have been. There is a danger of forgetting that horror does not simply live in our imaginations and our alternate realities. It is not entirely fictional nor made up. It is not entirely divorced from reality. And as Dr. Loomis eloquently puts it: “The Darkest souls are not those which choose to exist within the hell of the abyss, but those which choose to break free from the abyss and move silently among us.”
The movie, Halloween, is a stark reminder of such a fact. It is a reminder that after exiting the movie theatre, what horror the movie has shown, regardless of how horrifying it may be, factual or not, is but a mere caricature of our reality. And like any caricature, though it is an exaggerated image, it still contains a pinch of truth that cannot be ignored. There is a need for us to be reminded that after stepping out of the cinema, we wake up from the momentary suspension of our disbelief back into a world that is probably more terrifying. We need to stop lying to ourselves and dulling the pain. The facts are, that horrors are real. They do exist.
The movie Halloween shows how serial killers are brought into this world. And such a story would have made the front page of any national newspaper around the world. There is little in the movie that could convince us otherwise. Perhaps even worse things have happened in reality. Oh, wait. Scratch that. Worse things have indeed already happened.
Michael Meyers was indeed the perfect storm. He was born out of a great evil that existed within and outside of him. His situation was so horrible that no man could claim to be saintly enough to withstand such a life without ending up the way that he did. Michael kills in cold blood in the same way that so many other serial killers in real life had. He killed anyone and everyone, regardless of who they were and what role they had to play in his life. There is no mercy to be found in him. He was like a killing machine that had no heart and had no soul.
What is striking though is that all people have the capability to be as corrupted as he is. In a way, this kind of violence is evident in our society. We hear of mindless rapes, soulless murders and what’s worse, a combination of both and more. We hear about them every day and we seem to just brush it aside and sip our coffee. And yet we cringe at the images that are shown in the movie Halloween? We should know better.
The mask of Michael is reminiscent of how we try to mask our own inner monsters. We are all very capable of such acts given the right situation and the right motivation to do so. We hide our monsters in the masks of our faces, which ironically, Michael is capable of removing. It is not so much that he covers up his face really. It is more that he is willing to reveal his true self, through the cold and cruel mask that he chooses to wear.
I would dare say that Michael is not evil at all. When I think about it, all he ever really wanted was to take care of his sister. She was the only one she didn’t kill. And although he may have approached it the wrong way, I thought that at the heart of the monster, is a heart that wants to protect a loved one. It is a twisted kind of love that defiles all laws and social norms, but love nonetheless. Who’s to say otherwise? Can Michael be really blamed for all that he has done? Does he even think there is something wrong with what he did? In my opinion, he did not know any better. All he did was to react to a stimulus. Unfortunately, he was misguided and thus his fall into corruption was inevitable. But regardless of all of that, I believe underneath that mask, in the depths of his silence, there lies a good and genuine heart.