The origins of the slasher sub-genre

With the most recent instalment having hit the theaters late last year, this is the film that started one of the most influential horror franchises of all time. John Carpenter’s Halloween not only practically started the slasher sub-genre (with a little help from Bob Clark’s Black Christmas). It is still a spine-chilling movie in its own right even to today’s audiences and deserves its title of a classic.

A young boy revealed to be Michael Meyers is standing outdoors in a clown costume holding a kitchen knife
Mummy, I think I’ve done something bad (Credit: http://halloweenmovie.fandom.com)

Perfect execution of impending doom 

Halloween starts with what is easily one of the most impactful horror opening sequences. We observe the events unfolding from someone’s point of view. Our puzzlement turns into dread as we watch someone stab a teenage girl to death, only to find out a six-year-old boy did it.

We then jump to 15 years later, with Michael Meyers escaping a mental institution and targeting a high school student Laurie Strode and her friends. The tension in the daylight segments is done brilliantly – even before anything occurs, we see Michael lurking in the background of every scene. We as audiences just know that something bad will happen to these girls, even if we don’t know when, where, or how.

Terror-inducing climax 

Things definitely don’t let up once the killings do start (although Michael Meyers putting on a ghost outfit gave me a chuckle). The scene where Laurie goes to the house across the street and discovers the bodies of her friends is chilling. As Michael waits for the right moment to come out, chase that ensues keeps me on the edge of my seat during every rewatch.

Laurie Strode is sitting down hiding from Michael Meyers, holding a knitting kneedle.
Running from Michael Meyers was not part of the job description (Credit: http://imdb.com)

As we now know Laurie is the final girl, we expect for her to survive (there are now plenty of subversions of this trope but as Halloween started the trend, you’d expect the status quo). However, people watching as the film came out would’ve had no idea about this purely because it was a new concept. It’s obvious the film has a lot of fun with this with its many close calls. The ending where Dr Loomis sees Michael has escaped despite being shot at so many times is now a slasher villain staple. Can he be defeated? The many sequels say ‘hell no’. 

Final impression 

Halloween rightfully sets the standards for hundreds of slasher films that have tried to replicate it, with varied degrees of success. The choice for Dr Loomis to describe Michael as ‘pure evil’ is interesting. It achieves the goal of audiences not being able to sympathize with him because there’s nothing in him that we can relate to. 

One tiny thing that I could count as a flaw in the film is the acting. Donald Pleasance is easily the best actor in the film and while Jamie Lee Curtis is really good, she does overact a little bit in some moments. Her friends aren’t impressive by any means with some line delivery choices. At the end of the day, mediocre acting is yet another staple of the subgenre. Despite this, it’s still my favourite horror movie of all time and I can’t see another one knocking it out of its place anytime soon.

Rating:

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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