[The following essay contains MINOR SPOILERS; YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!]
Despite the clear iconography associated with the character, the Halloween franchise’s Michael Myers has always been defined by his anonymity. From his haunting, featureless mask to his unnerving lack of a concrete motive, he was designed to be universal—the ultimate blank slate onto which the viewer can project literally any fear. Even the scene descriptions in John Carpenter’s screenplay never refer to him by name, identifying him only as “The Shape.”
The sequels, however, suffered from excessive specificity. Halloween II, for example, revealed that Laurie Strode was Michael’s sister (and, by implication, the intended target of his rampage, rather than just another random victim), while The Curse of Michael Myers reimagined him as the pawn of a nefarious pagan cult. Fortunately, David Gordon Green’s Halloween (2018)—which ignored every movie in the series apart from the first—took a refreshing “back-to-basics” approach to cinema’s original slasher, carving away the convoluted mythology and reestablishing Michael as a relatively mundane (albeit unusually resilient and brutal) serial killer.
In Halloween Kills, on the other hand, The Shape once again transcends his humanity—though this time, he delves not into the domain of the supernatural, but rather into the realm of the metaphorical. Through such recurring characters as Tommy Doyle and (former) Sheriff Leigh Brackett, Green and his collaborators explore the invisible scars carried by the survivors of the Halloween Massacre—the legacy of trauma and grief left in the wake of Michael’s violent spree. And in the fiery aftermath of his “triumphant” return home, that lingering pain and anxiety erupt into something truly terrifying: mass hysteria that transforms the ordinary citizens of Haddonfield into a disorganized mob of unruly, bloodthirsty monsters—with disastrous (but not entirely unexpected) consequences.
No longer is Michael Myers a mere external Boogeyman; he is now a twisted reflection of mankind’s darker nature—the repressed savagery and hatred that exist beneath the fragile façade of “culture” and “civilization.”
The Boogeyman lurks within us all.