Jamie Lee Curtis may be the backbone of the Halloween franchise, but David Gordon Green has been its brain—at least since 2018, when he and Danny McBride rebooted it as an epic battle between Curtis’ Laurie Strode and iconic killing machine Michael Myers. Whether Myers is hellbent on bodying Laurie in particular or he’s the Mariah Carey of slashers (“I don’t know her”) remains a mystery that neither the star nor director are eager to solve, but Green has devoted great effort and a tremendous amount of thought to shepherding Curtis’ tireless survivor through a brutal gauntlet to, well, a resting place in her journey (if it’s “final” is for viewers to find out October 14).
As the filmmaking duo prepares to wrap not only this cycle of films but some 44 years of lore with Halloween Ends, The A.V. Club spoke with Green about the path that they wanted Laurie Strode to take. In addition to discussing his “plan” for the franchise, Green talks about the differences—both deliberate and incidental—in slasher movies since the release of the groundbreaking 1978 original, and finally, reflects on his relationship with the films as he prepares to release the final (or at least final-for-now) installment, with the blessing of no less than Halloween creator and now co-composer of its music, John Carpenter.
The A.V. Club: How much of a plan was there for these films, and where did you want this trilogy to end up?
David Gordon Green: Well, that’s an interesting question because there was a plan of an essence. But I don’t know necessarily a plan until I’m on set and we’re really engaged in things, no matter how much rehearsal or writing I’ve done. It’s still a vague tapestry until we start really getting in there and weaving it together. So after the success of our 2018 film, we knew where we wanted to go vaguely. And I knew that I wanted to center the second film around a lot more action and aggression. And then I wanted the third film to be a love story that felt more grounded and intimate. And so those were always essential ingredients in this, and then trying to figure out how to tell the story of the manifestation of evil.
The second one is a big Michael Meyers exploitation movie—that’s what Halloween Kills is for me, the opera of Michael Myers. And then two is you’re not going to go into a Michael Myers backstory because as far as I’m concerned, that’s forbidden territory. I don’t want to know his motivation, what inspires him. But I do ask a lot of questions about evil and community that have been left in the aftermath of the Haddonfield massacres. So trying to find a way to ask these questions, but not [doing that] through Michael Myers insisted I bring in a new character to give a perspective of Michael and his behaviors, Laurie and her insights, and then Haddonfield as a whole.
AVC: Laurie is in a much healthier place in this film. Where did you want her to end up after all she’s been through?
DGG: Meditative. I don’t think the Laurie Strode I want to follow is ever going to be 100% resolved in any outcome that the story might unfold for her. I felt passionate that we want a story that deals with her struggles and her reflections. And so I feel like wherever this movie would take her, on whatever journey, there’s a thoughtfulness to it. And there’s never going to be an absolute definitive, tragic ending, and there’s never going to be an absolute definitive, happy ending. I think it’s a series of tragic events that accumulate in her psyche. And at the end of the day, as we all should when we live through hardships and face difficulties, the thoughtfulness, the reflection, the evolution beyond that is, I think, what’s the most interesting.
AVC: There is a lingering question if Michael actually has any specific interest in Laurie in the events of the 2018 film. Is Michael making a path directly to her, or is it purely circumstantial?
DGG: I like to not really define that, but I also make sure that I’ve created a story where you could point to none of that. And so there’s always a justification that he will be there, outside of stalking Laurie. I think in the reality of his psyche, maybe there’s a familiarity that he sees. But I think he’s a kind of animal that isn’t bringing a grudge, a vengeance. He’s a monster that’s on a path, and if you get in the way, you’re going to get fucked up.
AVC: You’ve spoken about how it wouldn’t be appropriate to just remake the original film in 2018 or 2022. What are the ways this genre has changed that challenged you to tell a story that’s authentic to this period, but also is faithful to the legacy of this franchise?
DGG: Yeah, that’s a really fun question, and conversation—it’s a big conversation. Because the original Halloween has inspired so many people, and so many people have ripped off ideas or emulated it to the point of cliche or camp. I personally like to select what tropes I invite into it when it’s too little, or too much. Turning your back on a bad guy who’s about to pick up a knife? I’m not sure you can get away with a lot of that as much as you used to be able to do without audience groans. I think some of the pacing you need up a little bit for a contemporary audience that may or may not have as much patience as they had 44 years ago. And so there are certain stylistic choices we make, but all of it within certainly the appreciation of John [Carpenter] and having him there as a consultant and a collaborator helps me when I get off path a little bit. Sometimes I’ll have a wild idea and say, “This is a little wild, John, but what if?” And he’ll either say, “That’s a terrible idea,” or “That’s interesting. See where it takes you.”
He’s been very generous in letting us unravel some weird ideas, and then having his commentary. I loved being very vulnerable and watching him watch the movie for the first time as we were doing a spotting session for the score. And so I get his commentary throughout, and as big fans of John Carpenter, we know he’s not going to pull any punches. He’s ready to say what he thinks, and he’s not holding back. So I love that about him. And by surrounding yourself with people that are challenging in a healthy way—they’re there to support, but they’re also to say, “what if?” And “how about?” And I like having the specific group of people that we’ve curated to be our collaborators on this franchise. It’s been really enjoyable and I’ve learned a lot and had a beautiful journey on three films.