Since Jamie Lee Curtis announced her return to Halloween last year, fans have been clamoring to see Laurie Strode back in action. The recent trailer only hyped her return even further. Strode remains one of the genre’s most beloved heroes, and a rare example of a protagonist who became just as iconic as the villain she faced. In this new film, Laurie is portrayed as a willing fighter, a sharp contrast to how she was portrayed in previous sequels.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF LAURIE STRODE
Laurie Strode brought real humanity to Halloween. Jamie Lee Curtis created a character who was shy and reserved, but also responsible and dedicated to her work as a babysitter. When faced with adversity, she put up an admirable fight against her attacker that made audiences like her even more. Laurie may have been terrified beyond words, but her terror never hindered her ability to fight back. Curtis gave the audiences someone who they still identify with years later. Even with her, why couldn’t those films strike the same chord? The problems began as early as the first sequel, and continued all the way to the character’s death in Halloween: Resurrection.
Taking place on the same night as the first, Halloween II followed Laurie to a local hospital with the masked killer hot on her trail. The problem was not a lack of genuinely spooky moments, but the treatment of Laurie’s character. She’s passive for much of the film, confined to a bed while various things happen around her. Even when confronted with Michael, she spends most of her time running and hiding, leaving most of the fighting to Dr. Loomis. Though she does have moments, such as when she shoots out Michael’s eyes, many, including screenwriter Debra Hill, felt Laurie lacked the drive that made audiences care about her so much.
Halloween H20 sought to redeem Laurie. Set 20 years after the original, Laurie is portrayed as an alcoholic with a strained relationship with her son, and recurring nightmares of her narrow brush with death. Only after her family is threatened does Laurie find the resolve to fight Michael Myers again. Laurie’s fight with Michael here was a series highlight, and ended with Laurie seemingly ending the series once and for all. Though deeply flawed, H20 did give Laurie a satisfying, even triumphant ending. Unfortunately, this ending was negated four years later.
It turns out Laurie killed the wrong man. When Laurie learns of this, she is reduced to a wreck of a human being. The opening of Halloween: Resurrection finds her in a mental hospital, being force fed pills, and waiting for the killer’s inevitable visit. Laurie does attempt to set a trap for Michael, but when confronted with her brother once more, Laurie makes a mistake. Not only is this moment out of character to someone who was so resourceful in the past, it also costs Laurie her life, killing off the heroin that people had loved for twenty four years. Halloween: Resurrection was by far the worst sendoff the character could have received, and left a bad taste in the mouths of many fans.
Resurrection’s chilly reception left the franchise at a standstill, until the Rob Zombie remakes. Even here, Laurie received poor treatment. It was clear Rob Zombie identified more with Michael than his victims, portraying Laurie as someone with psychopathic tendencies of her own. By the end of the second film, she coldly smiles to the camera at the prospect of her own killing spree. The problem with most of the sequels was not just their repetitive nature, but a clear lack of investment in the protagonists. Laurie was a character people loved, and to see her repeatedly slighted turned a lot of people off to a once iconic and proud story.
So why are people excited about the new film? The number one reason is it takes a different approach than the other sequels, one that may prove the redemption for everyone’s favorite babysitter.
BACK WITH A VENGEANCE
The first thing is the film severs the familiar ties Michael has to Laurie, once again making her a random girl he just happened to hone in on. But there’s something else. This Laurie Strode is not only ready for a fight, but hoping for one. She speaks of praying for years that Michael would escape. When someone asks her why, her reply is cold.
So I can kill him.
This is a very different Laurie Strode than we’re used to. Not surrendering to grief and fear, she’s instead prepared herself. This new iteration of Laurie not only seems like a more appropriate next step for the character, but also recalls Dr. Sam Loomis, the previous series hero who shared her experiences on the original Halloween.
There are some interesting parallels between this new Laurie and Dr. Loomis. Both have been obsessed with Michael for many years. Both were exposed to Michael’s evil nature, Loomis when acting as his doctor, and Laurie when she narrowly escaped his killing spree. Both try to warn other characters of the danger, and both warnings fall on deaf ears. Both even have combative relationships with local law enforcement, Loomis with Sheriff Brackett, and Strode with Will Patton’s Hawkins in the new film. In the end when Michael arrives, both Loomis and Laurie were the only two who are ready. Laurie is no longer just a victim saved by Loomis. She’s become the late doctor’s disciple, a much more interesting role than the previous sequels gave her.
There are a few important differences between Laurie and Loomis however. One is Loomis was not his intended victim. Laurie was, so her relationship with Michael is perhaps a lot more knowledgable than even his. Two, and perhaps even more importantly, is Loomis never had a personal relationship with any of Michael’s victims. It was Laurie’s friends who were murdered, and it’s Laurie’s family that Michael is after now. Laurie Strode not only suffered and persevered through more than Loomis. She also stands to lose a lot more. The lives of her daughter and granddaughter are in danger, and to protect them, she’s prepared to do whatever it takes.
Previous incarnations showed Laurie as a woman broken by her experiences. This new film promises something more. Michael’s evil has not left this new Laurie broken, but fortified. The Laurie Strode of the previous sequels spent her entire life running from danger until it finally caught up with her. This new Laurie Strode has no intention of running. We won’t know until October whether or not this film lives up to the hype, but one thing is clear. Even if the film fails, those behind it are at least trying to give Laurie Strode the ending she so richly deserved.
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