Scene Sound Off: Halloween

Halloween is a classic film, a staple in horror cinema. What Halloween does so amazingly well is build an impending sense of tension and dread. The source being Michael Myers, a mysterious voyeuristic figure that spends the first half of the film eerily receding in the background with an unwavering stare. Michael Myers waits until nightfall to wreak havoc, but he bleeds into the suburban daylight, like an off-putting smudge on a perfect painting, as he wanders around town beforehand. It is in the following scene where we see Michael eerily preying on the little town of Haddonfield, particularly his most prized victim Laurie Strode. This scene brilliantly depicts the quiet terror of our villain, as Laurie feels the unsettling tension of being followed.

The scene begins with Laurie and her Annoying Friend #1, Annie, walking through the halls after school. Annie’s sarcastic line helps further establish Laurie’s bookworm and good-girl character- “Look at all the books you have. You need a shopping cart to get home.” Laurie’s friends don’t care much for doing homework. The camera follows them as they walk along the neighborhood road. The girls walk towards the camera as if it is pulling them towards it. The camera stops as Annoying Friend #2, Lynda, catches up to them.

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After they cross the street Laurie exclaims that she forgot her chemistry book. She turns around, her stare lingering at the road behind her, as if she’s had an uneasy feeling pf someone following her all along. Sure enough, a car pulls around the corner. The audience recognizes this as Michael’s car that he stole. The famous piano-tinkling theme starts playing. The driver is just an unrecognizable shadow. Laurie recognizes the car from seeing it linger outside of the school window earlier.The other girls think it’s a classmate, Laurie replies “I don’t think so.” But Annie and Lynda heckle him about his driving. The car makes a sudden stop. The girls wait, wondering if they’ve provoked him enough that he’s going to come out and confront them. But the car drives off, and the music score fades away as he turns the corner.

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Laurie, Lynda and Annie talk about how they’re going to babysit that night and their plans to meet up. As if to signal the impending doom of the nighttime, the haunting score plays again. The girls walk past the camera, and the camera turning and lingering still on their backs as they walk away and the neighborhood swallows them up. These shots from behind almost feel as if we are Myers himself, watching them walk off and planning for where we will appear next.

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Laurie soon spots Michael standing and staring at her from behind some hedges, ever so briefly. The mask is seen from far off, an odd white face that is hard to tell exactly what you’re looking at. In many shots in the beginning sequence where Michael is seen in daylight, we either see glimpse of him from far away, shrouded in shadow, or close-up but his head out of frame. Every time he appears in the daylight he is sticks out like a sore thumb, with the drab greys of his clothes and human-like white mask against the placid suburban background. From the odd or quick angles and faraway shots, Carpenter creates a fearsome aura around this furtive and chilling character. The infamous mask incredibly and effectively contributes to this.

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Laurie identifies the figure as the guy from the car. Though there was no way from the shot of car driving to see who was in it, Laurie knows that she is being followed. Though he is gone just as quickly as he was seen, and Annie tricks her into thinking it was a potential suitor, Laurie now acknowledges that her feelings of being watched must be more than suspicion.

This scene demonstrates how the out-of-place Michael Myers infects the beauty of the idyllic setting of Haddonfield on that cheery Halloween day, soon to become a fearsome Halloween night. The audience gets a beginning sense of this character’s terrifying power. As the camera sweeps throughout the neighborhood, our eyes scour for a sign of the mysterious follower, just as Laurie does. Watch the scene below!

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The Drop: You’ll Never See Him Coming

Tom Hardy’s performance in The Drop is a shining example of why he is one of the greatest working actors of today. He plays Bob, a Brooklyn bartender at his cousin Marv’s bar. Marv sold out the bar to the Chechen mob, and they use the place as a “drop bar” to stash cash. Despite his brawny tough-guy appearance, Bob is a quiet and introverted type. He gets his work done and looks the other way when it comes to the mob. Bob is also fairly dim-witted. Tom Hardy expressed that much of his character inspiration was based off of Of Mice and Men’s Lennie, and traces of that influence can be seen through his manner of speaking. The way Tom Hardy conveys his timidity and slowness seems to mask something that is constantly simmering underneath him. The slow but steady build-up of his character’s journey leads to a shocking yet inevitable reveal of just what lies beneath when you uncover that mask.

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“He’s filled with pain and he wants to belong. You hear about psychopaths bonding with cartoon characters, because they aren’t real. I always thought of him as being like that until he meets that dog; then he starts to care for something else, and it throws him.” Tom Hardy remarked on his character in a Rolling Stone interview. Bob discovers a puppy in the trash, and a local neighborhood woman Nadia urges him to take it. Bob develops a fondness for Nadia and the dog, and his soft-hearted side is unleashed. But Bob becomes quick to anger to defend the ones he now cares for. Matthias Schoenaerts plays a local hoodlum Eric Deeds who claims the puppy is his. He begins harassing Bob and Nadia, who happens to be his ex-girlfriend. Deeds has the reputation for being crazy and for killing another local kid, Glory Days. “People like me come along when you’re not looking.” Deeds threatens Bob. But the text is not only speaking of Deeds, but of Bob. As the events of the film unfold, we realize that Bob is going to be the person who comes along when others are not looking. This is the essential crux of his character.

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Bob’s soft and gentle demeanor, conveyed through the caring for the puppy and kindness to Nadia, as well as the doltish timbre of his dialogue, completely unravels in the film’s climax. The tension that has seemed to simmer beneath him brims to the surface. Deeds, Nadia and Bob are alone in the bar after a football party. Deeds threatens Bob to open the safe and give him the money. To stall him, Bob begins telling a long winded story about his cousin Marv. Deeds does not chalk this up to Bob knowingly stalling him, but instead the usual simpleminded speak that one gets accustomed to when interacting with Bob. But the story takes a turn as Bob confesses the darkest thing the audience has ever heard him say.

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Bob reveals that he was the one that killed Glory Days, he knows that Eric has been bluffing all this time. “I shot him in the face, twice. Then I wrapped his head in a towel, and I stabbed him in the chest in his heart, so he would bleed out, and I put him in my bathtub and watched him drain. Then I put him in an oil tank with laundry detergent and lye, and I sealed it back up.” It’s quite shocking to hear this coming from Bob, his true self has come along without us even looking for it. Then, Bob whips out a gun and shoots Deeds.

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In the ending scenes, we see Bob returning to his usual quiet and simple-minded demeanor when being questioned by the mob and the cops. Bob denies knowing anything, he laughs it off to the cop that Deeds disappearing is just how the neighborhood is. The cop starts to leave, but he hesitates and leans over to whisper to Bob, “No one ever sees you coming, do they Bob?” The characters in Bob’s world constantly underestimate him, shrugging off his shyness and slowness. They write Bob off as a harmless dolt. As does the audience throughout the film. Though there is a sneaking suspicion that something lies beneath, it is still surprising to hear the dark brutality of Bob’s past. This is a past that Bob is not proud of, one that became unwittingly unleashed. In one of the voiceovers Bob reflects, “There are some sins that you commit that you can’t come back from, you know, no matter how hard you try. You just can’t.” The hauntings of his dark past was what was constantly swimming inside of him.

Tom Hardy is able to subtly portray the imperceptible evolution of his character. Hardy allows the audience to underestimate Bob as the characters around him do, but also give us subtle clues that there is more to him than meets the eye. All we have to do is look.