Thursday, October 30, 2014

English Class in Halloween

Do Laurie's smarts put her on a "course of action" 
for surviving Micheal Meyers? 
Is her survival an alternation or fulfillment of her destiny?
A classroom of restless, bored teens. Slouched and sprawled in their chairs, counting the moments until release. A girl in the back row - smart, serious, reliable - drifts into her own world. Distracted by recent, stranger-than-normal events.

In Halloween, Laurie Strode's English class provides the viewer insight into the movie's themes and hints at future events.

The classroom lecture focuses on a piece of work by Samuels. (Internet searches for a specific title or the author came up empty. It appears that both are fictional.) The teacher drones from the front of the room:

"You see, fate caught up with several lives here. No matter what course of action Rollins took, he was destined to his own fate, his own day of reckoning with himself. The idea is that destiny is a very real, concrete thing that every person has to deal with."

The film is built around the premise that, on this Halloween night, fate catches up with several lives:
  • Haddonfield. While not a person, the film's Haddonfield, Illinois setting has a fate of its own. A young Micheal Meyers murdered his sister in their Haddonfield home. The ensuing 15 years seemingly erased the bad taste from the town's collective mouth. Aside from kids taunting and teasing each other with the possibility that the now-abandoned Meyers house is haunted, the adults are largely absent. On Halloween, the adults seem to be out partying, trusting their children to the sleepy, unassuming town and teenage babysitters. Sheriff Brackett thinks that Dr. Loomis is off-base with his Meyers manhunt, since Haddonfield is a family town with "children all lined up in rows, up and down these streets." But thanks to Micheal - a product of this self-identified idyllic town - Haddonfield is fated to be a doomed town. A setting for his horrific acts.
  • Micheal Meyers. His fate is intertwined with the fate of Haddonfield. Halloween provides no outright motive for Micheal's actions. Perhaps the most telling detail is that Micheal kills his sister when he's six. If he could do such a thing, at such a young age, perhaps it is part of his DNA - his destiny? Dr. Loomis speaks of the pure and simple evil living behind Micheal's eyes - suggesting that evil has always been a part of Micheal, that he is fated to be a killer. Dr. Loomis also tells Sheriff Brackett that Micheal has been waiting for this night since being committed. Regardless of his doctors' actions and attempts to permanently remove Micheal from society, his return to Haddonfield was imminent.
  • Laurie Strode. Her character is the most closely aligned with the Rollins character discussed in her English class. Laurie is a brain, the "good girl." She accepts this as her fate, while still yearning for something more. She tells her friends that guys think she's too smart, calls herself "the old girl scout." But after she reveals her interest in Ben Tramer - and finds out the feeling is mutual - Laurie quickly back pedals, refusing to go on a date with him. You could argue that since she's not distracted by sex (unlike the friends who fall victim to Micheal), she's more alert. More sensitive to sensing that something is amiss.
The jack-o'-lantern in the movie's
opening credits suggests innocence -
the childhood delights of trick-or-treating.

The vacant eyes and face also mirror
Micheal's mask, and the idea that
he is empty of human emotions.
That there is only evil within.

The jack-o'lantern's face is marred by
a scar running from nose to mouth.
Perhaps signifying Laurie's loss of innocence
at the hands of Micheal.
Micheal Meyers is the "real, concrete" embodiment of evil. As Laurie physically fights Micheal - trying
to defeat him and save her life - she is reckoning with evil. The struggle could also be viewed as a "day of reckoning" with herself. She taps into hidden instincts. She uses violence to ward off violence.

Though Laurie claims that guys aren't interested in her because of her brain, her dating life seems to be equally stunted by her own reluctance. Perhaps her ability to fight off Micheal stems from repressed desires and energies hurdling to the surface in a life or death, fight or flight moment. Her reservations about the opposite sex are directly confronted with a man who justifies her fear. You could argue that she turns threatening phallic symbols (knitting needle, Micheal's own knife, clothes hanger) back on this dangerous man. Though ultimately saved by a man (Dr. Loomis), her fate is to use her brains - and perhaps bottled up emotions - to fight, to save the kids she's babysitting, and survive.

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