Four decades after he first terrorized audiences, Michael Myers proved that he’s still got the goods. Halloween, the latest installment in the franchise, is a massive success with both critics and at the box office, earning nearly $80 million its opening weekend and earning an 80 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie has been celebrated as a return to form for the Halloween series, taking the focus off of confusing family trees and ancient witchcraft. Instead, Halloween brought the focus back to what audiences crave: Myers’ insatiable, borderline inhuman lust for ending human life.
While plenty of other onscreen killers rack up high body counts, nobody does it with the frightening intensity of Michael Myers. He doesn’t crack jokes. He isn’t teaching some grand life lesson. And he doesn’t have some tragic backstory that explains why he is the way that he is. He was born pure evil and finds pleasure only in the destruction of others, ideally in a way that is equally terrifying and savage.
WARNING: This article contains a few non-essential plot spoilers so please abandon ship if you want to walk into the film completely blind.
Myers’ fans will be happy to find that there is a whole lot of murder in this movie. But this isn’t just your standard slasher killing spree; Halloween seems intent on reminding viewers of the brutality that separates Myers from his peers. In one scene that was (unfortunately) spoiled by the trailer, Myers lets a future victim know of his malicious intent by dropping the teeth of a previous victim on the floor of the bathroom stall she is sitting in. In another, Myers casually snaps the neck of a preteen boy shortly who we had spent just enough time with to humanize, making his death a chilling reminder that there is no line Myers won’t cross once he has begun a murderous rampage.
Except, for maybe one? While Myers is unquestionably a monster in this movie, there is one brief moment that seems to undermine the wholly evil characterization he often receives. The moment occurs after Myers has returned to the suburbs of Haddonfield, Illinois and is quickly racking up a body count that put his previous efforts to shame. At one point, Myers ends up in a random house and immediately disposes of the woman who lives there. But the woman isn’t the only person in the house.
As Myers is slaughtering his latest victim, the faint cry of a baby can be heard in the background. This immediately puts the audience on edge and as we follow Myers around the house, we can hear him getting closer to the baby. And in perhaps the tensest moment of the entire film, Myers finally reaches the crib and an unthinkable thought enters your mind, “Holy shit. Is Myers going to murder that baby?” The answer is, thankfully, no. After seeming to pause for a split second, Myers decides to leave the baby unharmed (other than the obvious damage of having murdered the child’s mom) and heads back out to slice and dice a few more unsuspecting suburbanites on his way to exact revenge against Laurie Strode.
This brief interaction between Myers and the crying baby has no bearing on the actual plot and yet, it might be Halloween‘s most revealing glimpse into the mind of this vicious serial killer. While the rest of the movie works tirelessly to convince us that Myers is an unrepentant monster, his decision not to kill a defenseless, crying baby shows that he may actually have a shred of humanity left in him. Even Myers, who is meant to represent evil personified, knows that killing a baby is simply too dark and decides to stick to murdering adults instead.
Realistically, having Myers stab the infant, even offscreen, would have been too dark for many viewers. In fact, when asked about Myers’ decision not to commit infanticide, Halloween co-writer and director David Gordon Green admits that it is “the one ethical choice he [Myers] makes.” But why have him make that choice at all? The existence of the baby did nothing for the plot and, arguably, undermines the entire Michael Myers character. Or perhaps, Halloween is suggesting to the audience that while Myers may be the most deranged and vile villain in cinematic history, he still has some human decency left in him. Perhaps even the evilest people still have an intrinsic understanding of right and wrong that makes them recognize that killing a defenseless baby is simply too far.
None of this excuses the multiple homicides committed by Myers throughout the movie but it is the one moment that suggests he is not, in fact, pure evil who will kill literally anyone who crosses him. So while you are witnessing Myers devastate an entire town with his methodical approach to murder, also take a moment to appreciate the fact that even one of the most iconic movie murderers knows that baby murder is a line you simply don’t cross.