In Halloween 2018, Michael Myers looked like a human. But the new trailer for Halloween Kills suggests that might change.
Halloween 2018 recharges the slasher franchise and returns Michael Myers to his elegant horror roots. The film became a huge success, leading to the release of the trailer for its sequel, Halloween Kills, a cause for celebration among horror fans. The trailer looks sharp, and the first word of the film is good. However, it does illustrate one of the dangers the franchise faces whenever it releases a new film: the question of Michael Myers' supernatural powers.
The Halloween franchise makes an absolute hash of the question following the legendary 1978 original John Carpenter, and 2018 Halloween gets plenty of credit for cutting through the convoluted explanations of why he's an unstoppable killing machine. In short, it was said that he was just a flesh and blood human with severe psychosis and an inhuman sense of patience. The new trailer, however, seems to imply something else. Even though it may pay different dividends, it is still a risk.
The 1978 film implied that something supernatural was driving Michael Myers but wasn't specific about what it was. The famous credits refer to him as "The Shape," and the film's twist — where he appears to walk away from some of the gunshot wounds inflicted by Dr. Loomis - suggested that he might be a boogeyman as the protagonist continued to insist. It worked out well, for the most part, because Carpenter was able to let the mystery hang in the air. That adds to the horror of the film and leaves open questions in the tradition of The Twilight Zone.
That changed immediately with the second installment, Halloween II, in 1981. In it, Dr. Loomis finds evidence linking Michael to the occult and becomes Laurie Strode's brother. Subsequent films contained further elaborations, each trying to further justify why Michael remains an indestructible killing machine like Jason Voorhees. Unfortunately, in doing so, they destroyed the fear of the unknown that Carpenter had created so easily. Instead of increasing the fear around the character, each answer seems to reduce it slightly. The more the audience learns, the less interesting the story becomes.
Halloween 2018 resets all mention of the film beyond the original. He even concludes that such films are the subject of the urban legend that sprang up around the Myers murder in 1978. The film restores the threat to unanswered questions by discarding them all, reminding viewers that a figure like Myers is scarier if he is meat and human blood.
Now the sequel looks to be toying with supernatural explanations again and evoking the revealing motifs of Halloween II and Halloween III: Season of Witches in the trailer. Myers comes out of the burning house from the 2018 film, apparently unharmed and throws the trash at the assembled firefighters. When added to Laurie's dire warning that every time she kills she "goes beyond", it strongly implies that she's more than human - and Laurie might have some clue as to what that is. After all, no human should have survived the fire, as he had said.
None of that means that Halloween Kills will be a strong follow-up. Director David Gordon Green's planned trilogy shows that they take the story in a specific direction. It avoids the creative malaise of most franchise sequels while respecting the legacy they represent. But by reversing the rules regarding Myers' potential strength, they were still playing with fire. In an attempt to change things, they need to avoid giving more of the same old thing.