Holloween

One film which indisputably depicts conventions of the Clover’s final girl is Halloween. For the first major minutes, the film closely follows the backstory of Michael Myers and how he came to be known as a cold-blooded serial killer. The main plot of the film involves Laurie Strode, Myers’ estranged sister escaping from his [loving] clutches. Her character is a perfect example of a Final girl. She exhibits the basic characteristics that Clover has coined for the term: for one, she has a shared history with the killer, being his estranged sister for 15 years. Secondly, while she is still depicted to possess certain longings and hedonistic urges, she does not engage in vices such as sex, smoking and drinking as compared to her peers Annie and Linda. She therefore, as Clover points out, does not possess the static feminism and sexual overdrive of other female characters in the film.

The audience will have a shift in affinity for Myers and Laurie in two planes: (1) as a literal focus of the film and (2) in terms of their male and female roles. The first major part of the film focuses solely on recreating Myer’s character. Rob Zombie, himself wanted to “flesh” out the character and provide a backstory in order to tie the character’s origins from a mindless killing machine to that of a psychopath slowly driven to insanity by his environment and his own internal problems. From this, it can be said that the viewer is given more familiarity and therefore forced to provide more empathy for the character. Conversely, the next half of the film focuses on Laurie’s perspective herself as she faces a threat she does not fully understand. As tension rises, she screams, runs and stumbles on her flight to survive.

Another particular characteristic of the film is that it is one of those remakes which provide an origin story of a killer/monster. One could ask if this de-familiarization leading to subsequent re-familiarization undermines the scariness of the monster. Should we know the monster or should we leave it a mystery? After all, doesn’t a certain shroud of mysticism and sense of unknowing add to a horror film and curiosity of the viewer? This could be a topic raised for movie-goers regarding the characterization of their movie monsters. Can we still maintain his/her scariness by want to understand more of the character by introducing his/her backstory? Or do we leave him as a mindless killing machine? Personally I think the answer will depend on the preferences of the viewer. Furthermore, the resulting effectiveness of the character to elicit fear will still depend on other factors of the movie other than this. This remake, for example, even though it allows us to sympathize for the Myers, especially in the beginning, grounds the character closer to reality. There were themes that include bullying, parental verbal abuse and psychopathic tendencies, which are phenomena not really far from what is and can actually happen in real life. Thus, it makes Myer’s story “more frightening” in that sense.

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