'Halloween' 2018 Ending: Is Michael Myers Even After Laurie Strode?

Although the 2018 Halloween follows directly from the 1978 original, ignoring eight sequels, there's one plot assumption that carries over: Michael Myers and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), victimizer and victim, are locked in a decades-long duel, their fates intertwined.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Halloween.

In the sequels, Michael is drawn to either Laurie or her relatives, for various silly reasons, but this wasn't true in the first Halloween. Laurie is chosen at random, Michael setting his sights on her when she slips a pair of keys into the mail slot of his childhood home. Halloween 2018 seems to presume Michael has been fixated on killing the girl he failed to kill decades ago, just as Laurie has spent years preparing for his return.

But is it possible that Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney/Nick Castle) isn't after Laurie at all? A close watch of Halloween suggests a fascinating ambiguity at the heart of the movie.

As Officer Hawkins (Will Patton) searches for Michael, Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer) voices an opinion that the movie seems to hold as well: Michael and Laurie have stayed alive for each other. Sartain is convinced, as are the podcasters who give Michael kills in a gas station bathroom, that Laurie is the key to unlocking Michael.

The progression of the plot suggests the same, as Michael chases Laurie's granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), eventually to Laurie's fortified compound deep in the woods. Yet, we're never given any real indication that Michael is after Laurie or her family specifically.

When Michael first returns, he doesn't make a beeline for Allyson, her mother Karen (Judy Greer) or Laurie. Instead, he just starts killing, going from house to house and slaughtering anyone inside. It's only by coincidence that he stumbles upon Allyson as she takes a shortcut home with her doomed friend Oscar (Drew Scheid). When she runs, he doesn't even give chase, instead wandering off down the street, where Hawkins and Dr. Sartain find him a few minutes later. It's only thanks to the intervention of Sartain that Michael arrives at Laurie's compound.

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Michael Myers grabs for Laurie Strode in 2018's "Halloween." Universal Pictures

There's a subtle, but telling, moment during Michael and Laurie's final confrontation. Searching her house, Laurie finds Michael in an upstairs bedroom. Michael charges her and presses her against the wall, strangling her with her own shotgun. It is in this moment, as he has Laurie in front of him, that Michael does his signature quizzical head tilt. It is almost as if he didn't recognize her until that very moment.

One of the themes of the new Halloween—a direct rebuttal to all the backstory built up around Michael over the years—is how so many of the characters invest their own theories in him, risking everything to try and get the truth from him. "Say something!" they shout. But Michael stays silent. Is it possible Laurie and us, the audience, have done the same: ascribing to Michael a motive he doesn't have?

Watching Halloween again, I was struck by how Michael's confrontation with Laurie seemed to only happen because Laurie was determined for it to happen. When she first finds him (and shoots him in the shoulder), Michael simply walks away.

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Michael Myers, a little worn but just as destructive, in 2018's "Halloween." Universal Pictures

A Michael Myers motivated by random killing, rather than the pursuit of a decades-old grudge, doesn't match the surface reading of the movie, which repeatedly reminds us of how destiny is bringing these two characters back together. Moreover, it would be a radical change from our understanding of the character built up over the sequels. It would make Michael more like Jason Voorhees—motivated by a place, not a person—with Haddonfield as his Camp Crystal Lake.

But it does seem possible that writers David Gordon Green, Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley found a way to maintain the essential inscrutability of Michael and his motives first established in the original Halloween. Ultimately, Michael is unknowable. He is only a shape; a boogeyman. Perhaps even Laurie, who knows him better than anyone, can't see what reason truly hides behind the mask.