“How fucking crazy is this?”
Those were the first words that Jamie Lee Curtis told us as she walked into the room where myself and several other journalists were sitting for our roundtable interviews. And how fucking crazy is it indeed?
Now that the embargo has lifted and we can talk about what we saw when we visited the set of Blumhouse’s Halloween, it’s time for us to being revealing not just what we witnessed but what we heard from the cast and crew. I thought it fitting that we begin with the real stars of the film, the Strode family.
Obviously there is Curtis, who returns as Laurie Strode, but this film introduces us to her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). These three are the at the center of Michael’s rage and his want to see them suffer is legendary. And as with any family, there are dynamics that separate as well as bind them, pushing some against each other while drawing others closer.
“You know, when trauma happens you freeze. We can look at it through history. When something really bad happens, you calcify emotionally. The Laurie we’re going to meet is fifty nine is in a weird way seventeen, so I think she actually responded much better with a granddaughter than her own daughter. She’s Laurie, Laurie loved kids, Laurie was fantastic with children, probably better with children than adults. I think with her own daughter she was dysfunctional in her raising of her because of this obsession of safety but because her granddaughter wasn’t raised by her, she can connect,” Curtis explains of her character, offering insight not only into her mindset but also the way she sees Laurie over the years.
But what kind of person is Strode after 40 years? Curtis thinks about it and tells us, “I think for Laurie Strode, society has not been kind to her. She lives alone, she has tried to live in society but society has not been welcoming. There were not a lot of mental health professionals helping this young woman, she banged her way into her life, she slammed into people, institutions, law enforcement, and they hate her because she calls the police every day, says ‘Do you have somebody patrolling Smith’s Grove? I was out there, I actually sat in my car all day outside of Smith’s Grove and I didn’t see one cop car. Why is that? Why aren’t you treating him with the respect that you should treat him?'”
Her obsession with Michael clearly causes rifts across the board, to the point that her own daughter, Karen, is adopted by a man who is not her father. “Laurie Strode I believe, doesn’t even know who the father of her daughter is. We believe the man who raised her, my ex-husband, adopted Karen when she was a year and a half or two, when I met him, then we made a relationship and that ended very quickly but he adopted her legally. So I don’t think Lori’s had…nobody could have a satisfying emotional relationship with a woman who is looking over their shoulder every moment they’re together. It’s that assumption that she’s had some sort of relationship, she hasn’t, and that’s why we find her in this isolated place that she’s living, in this sort of militaristic mindset.”
This “militaristic mindset” has chained Strode to Haddonfield for her entire life, depriving her of anything even remotely close to a normal existence. “I don’t think she has left Haddonfield in forty years,” Curtis hypothesizes. “This is a woman who knows exactly where [Michael] is and she knows, even though they all are convinced that he’s somebody who they can maybe manage, work with drugs, rehabilitate, all the rest of it. She is the only one who knows exactly who he is, and that’s who we find.”
Still, Curtis recognizes that her approach can’t be all brawn. “Laurie Strode is a survivor. She survived by her wits, even though she made stupid errors, like throwing the knife away twice. Laurie isn’t a badass, she’s smart and she survived. I also don’t want her to be a badass, I want her to be prepared. I want her to still be who she is but prepared because she’s not Linda Hamilton, I don’t have those arms. She was strong because she was smart. It’s tricky because we’ve turned strong women into superhero women and that isn’t what makes a woman strong, we’re not talking about physical strength, we’re talking about intelligence and wile and all the beautiful things that make a smart woman so dynamic so I’m hoping to fight against becoming too much badass and keep the integrity of her intelligence that I have brought into this piece, I fought for that.”
For Greer, one of the most exciting aspects of the film was Curtis’ return. “When I did read the script, one of the things I responded to immediately was the character of Laurie Strode being the star of the movie, really. I was just really happy because sometimes with a situation like this is it’s like a cameo and what I thought was so badass about what the screenwriters did was making it a multi-generational, female empowered movie and that Jamie Lee Curtis’ character is again the star of the movie,” she states.
However, her love of Curtis’ character as Greer does not share the same viewpoint as Karen, Laurie’s daughter. “My relationship with my mom is very estranged, we would be estranged completely if she didn’t constantly try to reach out, and by reaching out I mean check up on us to make sure that we’re always safe. She feels like a real watchdog over me and my daughter, so I try then to protect my daughter from I think this crazy woman who raised me and try to do things differently myself.”
She continues, telling us, “She just has never been able to let go of that horrifying night and brought it into all of her relationships and because I’m pretty much the only relationship that she really has, it just all got focused on me towards the end, as people started to drop out of her life and she retreated from society, so it was a really rough childhood for me and eventually at a young age I was removed from the house so I could have a better and more normal life.”
Matichak’s role as Allyson, Laurie’s granddaughter is not just the focal point of the film but also a rock for both Laurie and Karen. “I’m kind of caught in between since I’ve been a kid and, like any kid, you do want a relationship with everyone in your family and if Laurie’s making an effort, which she has been since I’ve been born, yeah, I’ve always wanted to have some sort of peace, if you will. So I think it’s made me more of an older soul as a child, to have to kind of mediate.”
Greer agrees and even brings up how Allyson’s character is at the age where parents begin to lose control, saying, “What’s nice about the character of Allyson that Andi plays is that seeing her at this age, she’s her own woman, she can reach out to her grandma whenever she wants. If we were finding her at eleven or twelve that’s something but now she has access to phones and [can] say, ‘Screw you mom, I want to talk to my grandma, I want to have her at this event, I want to have a relationship with her!’ So I like that.”
Matichak riffs off of that by saying her character is very similar to the Laurie we saw 40 years ago. “I feel like Allyson is kind of a spawn of Laurie at seventeen as well, I think she sees a lot of herself in me and that’s part of the reason why she and I are trying to have a relationship.”
But what is life like for the Strode clan 40 years after Myers’ original murder spree? Matichak thinks on it and offers her thoughts, “If you imagine, Haddonfield, forty years later and he’s become a myth and legend I mean it happened but it’s so desensitized for forty years in a small town. I mean, I’m sure there are Michael Myers masks that kids where on Halloween, probably not in Haddonfield but in town’s over, so I feel like we’ve been the butt of a lot of conversation. I know a lot of friends at school come up to me and are like, ‘Yeah, your grandma was murdered!’, ‘No, she survived, all her friends were killed, right?’ That actually happened and it’s horrible that you’re going to approach me like that but I think that everyone’s just desensitized to the fact that it happened in the town but it’s definitely not lost on our family and it definitely dictates the way we live our lives.”