(Spoiler alert: Do not read on if you haven’t seen the new “Halloween” movie yet.)
Michael Myers is back to wreak havoc in “Halloween,” and perhaps one of the scariest scenes is when Michael goes from house to house on trick-or-treat night leaving a trail of dead bodies in various houses along a suburban street — all in one long horrifying shot.
“We were prepared to fail,” director David Gordon Green told TheWrap about the scene (that yes, is shown in the trailer too). “We had all these exit strategies: He could exit here, we could seam two shots here, or put a clever wipe there.”
The logistical challenge was so great that the crew spent extra time to prepare. “We spent half a day with camera operators talking through it,” Green said. “When we got to the day and all the background is running around, I didn’t want to be scientifically concerned with the precision of matching and getting a clever wipe behind a tree or things like that — that can be useful in these types of ambitions.”
In the end, and after multiple tries, it all came together. “We did 11 takes, and it worked,” he said. “We used the 11th take, all one shot.”
But on the previous takes, he said, “there was always something that went wrong. In one version, the woman in the kitchen was thrown, and we thought, ‘We are running out of time.'”
But necessity really can be the mother of invention. “We’re trying to do this scene in four hours and we’ve got one more take and we’re like, well, ‘Let’s just put her at a table and squirt some blood on it,’ and then in the last minute we added a baby crib and the sound of a baby crying,” he said. “It was originally a husband sleeping on a couch but then we thought, ‘Why wouldn’t Michael just stab him on the way out?’
“We were scrambling and every take was a little different, and the last one worked,” he said. “That’s the crazy part about making a horror movie… success is when something horrible happens in a realistic way so your brain is altered to think it’s a positive thing.”
Adding to the horror factor is the fact that we don’t see Michael’s real face with his mask off at any point in the movie. And Green said that was intentional so the audience doesn’t feel empathy for the psychopathic killer.
“In Carpenter’s film, you see his face briefly when his mask is removed — you see the wound on his eye,” he said. “If we were going to go there, you start to humanize him in a way. … Even if they aren’t relatable or identifiable, something connects you when you make eye contact with a character, so I was really suspicious of that.”
Green added, “At the same time, I was afraid it would be a gimmick to avoid it too much.”
The director admitted he was unsettled when the cameras stopped rolling: “It was also weird to see the actor take his mask off and eating a celery stick on set.” (James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle are both credited with playing the role.)
The new “Halloween” picks up 40 years after Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Michael Myers faced off on Halloween night when she was just 17 years old.
Green, who co-wrote the script with Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley, said he jumped at the chance to revisit the characters who had so affected him as a young movie fan. “It was a great opportunity to get in the ring with iconic characters that meant a lot to me as a kid,” he said.
“How often do you have that opportunity to cast people you’ve already admired and work in the genre?” said Green, who previously shot last year’s Boston Marathon bombing victim story “Stronger” with Jake Gyllenhaal.
“A lot of [‘Stronger’] dealt with randomness of violence, and in a way, that was a horror film, so it wasn’t such a huge narrative leap,” he said. “In some ways, that project informed our approach to Michael’s narrative drive. What’s scary in the real world is what you don’t know, and random acts of violence get under my skin rather than something that is motivated or supernatural.”
“Halloween” also stars Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Nick Castle, James Jude Courtney and Haluk Bilginer. It hit theaters on Friday.