Michael Myers, the 1978 slasher movie killer Halloween, is one of the most enigmatic characters in cinema. While many subsequent sequels attempted to explain his motivations through a variety of retcons, alternate timelines, and tragic storylines, none ever quite felt adequate. The Original John Carpenter Movie wanted Michael to have no sense, motivation or reason; it was an unexplained monster. But there may be an explanation for the meaning of Michael Myers, discovered in the original film through subtext. Michael could be the identity of Laurie Strode or Shadow Self, aka the embodiment of his repressed anger, desires and frustrations.
Laurie Strode is the latest girl turned away from Halloween
This concept is hinted at when Tommy, the boy she babysits, is shown watching the 1956 sci-fi horror film forbidden planet in the background of several scenes. forbidden planet tells a mysterious story where the killer reveals himself as the abstract embodiment of the hidden feelings and subconscious desires of the protagonist, explicitly called “id monster”. The id is part of Freudian psychology, alongside the ego and the superego. While the superego embodies responsibility and the ego embodies the conscious mind and self, the id is the basic survival instinct and repressed desires in society due to the responsibilities of living as an adult with other people.
Many villains in fiction embody the identity of the hero as an evil counterpart, the embodiment of repressed desires, or a symbol of the dark desires the hero must erase in order to become better. Some, however, play this role more than others. Throughout the early parts of Halloween, Michael appears around Laurie, popping up as her shadow and sometimes as a being only she can see, distracting her from her classes. Laurie, the responsible bookworm and babysitter who takes on the responsibilities of the other girls, is a very repressed person; her identity must act whatever she secretly wants to do but cannot because of her conscience.
Michael Myers portrays the repressed desires of Laurie Strode
Michael’s first act is to scare off the bullies who were harassing Laurie’s babysitter, Tommy Doyle. He then kills Laurie’s friend Annie, who gave up her babysitting job on Laurie after interrupting her night with demands and setting her up with Ben Tramer without permission. Consciously, of course, Laurie would never wish Annie any harm. The id is instinctive. Michael gets revenge on Annie for her thoughtless treatment of Laurie, which Laurie herself would never take. Bob and Linda also disrupt Laurie’s night, invading the house Annie was using and calling Laurie to, once again, disturb her – and as many have noticed, have the sex life Laurie can’t indulge in. due to its responsible nature.
Laurie and Michael wear similar blue outfits, and they look alike enough for the sequel to pass them off as siblings. They each run through the same sets and use the same weapons when fighting in the climax. So, Laurie fighting Michael is symbolic of her struggle against the id, a struggle that everyone has to go through. She is saved in the first film by Dr. Loomis, who, as a responsible authority figure, plays a kind of superego counterpart to Michael. However, in the end, Michael Myers is not dead. He cannot be killed, any more than any human can simply ignore or exorcise his own subconscious.
The solution to the repressed id desires is not to repress them, ignore them, or kill them. It’s about recognizing them, understanding why they exist, and incorporating that self-knowledge into the conscious mind. Michael will always come back to haunt Laurie as long as she remains repressed, hiding her subconscious desires. This thematic idea has appeared in other Halloween films too, with Jamie Lloyd of Halloween 4 and Halloween 5 also echoing that and almost becoming the next Michael or Laurie in the Rob Zombie remakes doing almost the same thing. This theory can go beyond Halloween to even explain why the last girl in most slasher movies is so often portrayed as repressed. After all, the more the desires are suppressed, the more terrifying the monster they create must be.