Halloween Andi Matichak

How the new Halloween puts a spin on Final Girl attire

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Nov 12, 2018, 1:00 PM EST

Even without the mask, Michael Myers is instantly recognizable in the new Halloween movie thanks to his penchant for stolen blue mechanic coveralls. He doesn’t deviate in his wardrobe choice when he ditches the white prison attire for something more practical.

The same can be said for Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), whose style hasn’t changed a great deal from the first Halloween. Even her haircut looks similar. Laurie can’t move on from her experience in 1978, and this year's Halloween explores what happens to the Final Girl after the credits roll.

Warnings! Spoilers contained within.

Laurie Strode
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode is considered the epitome of this particular horror movie trope; her survival is predicated on her ability to outwit the killer because she is inherently good. She doesn’t have sex or partake in illegal substances — this isn’t strictly true, as she does smoke pot in the first movie even if she is clearly inexperienced — and her friends get picked off one by one, leaving her as the last girl standing. Final Girls don’t fall afoul of fashion trends that will be outdated in a few years; their closets are full of staples like jeans, T-shirts, and button-downs. Every Final Girl from Laurie Strode to Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) dresses like this.     

When the new Halloween was announced, Curtis posted a photo noting the similarities to John Carpenter’s original including the porch and costume. But David Gordon Green isn’t pulling a Gus Van Sant and doing a shot for shot remake even if the two movies share the same name. Instead, Green took some of the tropes that originated in Carpenter’s Halloween and put a 2018 spin on them. These inversions include the Final Girl becoming the Final Women: three Strode generations facing off against the man who impacted this family as a whole. Only Laurie was attacked that Halloween night in 1978, but the trauma she experienced has fractured and infected every one of her relationships since.


Credit: Universal Pictures

Moving beyond the meta-horror genre of Scream — which taught the rules of slasher movies to a new generation — 2018's Halloween explores what happens to a Final Girl in the aftermath of her experience as a teen. Laurie lives out in the woods by herself as suburbia is far more frightening. She is estranged from her family, while her now-adult daughter Karen (Judy Greer) is trying to live a life free from paranoia even though she was taught how to fight the boogeyman from an early age.

Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) is far more forgiving, but she didn’t have to put up with secret basements and gun practice when she was 7. Karen is so against her mother’s ramblings that she wears a Christmas sweater on Halloween. To her, this holiday does not exist. 

Meanwhile, Allyson gets into the spirit of this annual event by attending a costume party, something her grandmother didn’t do on that fateful night. Earlier that same day, Allyson takes a similar walk through her Haddonfield neighborhood with her friends Vicky (Virginia Gardner) and Dave (Miles Robbins) as her grandmother did 40 years previously. The silhouette and cut of clothes have changed, but this is one of the more overt callbacks.

Another costume nod to the first Halloween comes later on when Vicky is babysitting, as her yellow sleeve raglan shirt bears visual similarity to Tommy’s (Brian Andrews) pajamas in the original movie.

Everything that was soft about Laurie’s original look vanished as soon as her shirt was ripped by Michael’s knife. In Episode 4 of the recent Halloween Unmasked podcast, Curtis spoke about the costumes she wore in the original, saying, “Her entire wardrobe came from JCPenney in about an hour. We spent maybe $120 on everything and that included socks, shoes, skirts, things that matched.”

Allyson has more of a style edge than her grandmother at the same age, but her look is still pure Final Girl. And unlike Laurie, Allyson has a boyfriend. At first, Cameron (Dylan Arnold) appears to be a non-terrible horror movie boyfriend; he’s great with Allyson’s parents and he’s up for the gender-switch Bonnie and Clyde couples costume, which means he will be the one in pumps. But all is not what it seems: Cameron cheats and then attempts to gaslight Allyson. He follows this act of awful by throwing her phone into what looks like a bowl of custard, but I suspect is cheese dip — thus isolating Allyson and putting her in a 1978 tech-free position.

Cameron is indeed the worst, but this spin on Bonnie and Clyde means Allyson is not hampered by her costume when fleeing Michael. She doesn’t have to kick off shoes to climb over a fence, and she is unburdened by her wardrobe when she breaks into a sprint. Visually there is a similarity to Laurie’s iconic jeans and button-down look, but without being a direct copycat. This is a stylized version of the Final Girl ensemble complete with a tie — which she soon ditches — and suspenders. Allyson screams and bangs on a stranger's door for help, mirroring her grandmother, but instead of being ignored, Allyson is provided temporary refuge.

Several more levels of Final Girl torment are endured by Allyson, including the so-called safety of a police car that then becomes a prison, but unlike Sarah Michelle Gellar in I Know What You Did Last Summer, Allyson doesn’t stop running. She makes it through the woods to get to Laurie’s middle-of-nowhere house.

It looks a little worse for wear by the end of the movie, but the Clyde ensemble also resembles the menswear resurgence on the red carpet, something the women of Halloween leaned into during the film's premiere at the Toronto Film Festival back in September. 

Costume designer Emily Gunshor sticks to a lot of denim for Laurie, but she has moved on from JCPenney. On Instagram, Curtis referred to the Barbour jacket and Merrell boots her character wears throughout the film as “necessary sartorial armor to kick some masked ass.” Her wardrobe reflects her state of mind. Just as Michael Myers opts for function and familiarity over style, so does Laurie. There is no time to consider fashion when preparing for the return of your tormentor. The trauma of that night has frozen Laurie in time. The shape and silhouette may have changed, but the overall look is similar.

Karen rebels against her mother by dressing for Christmas on Halloween, while Allyson wears a stylized version of her grandmother’s ensemble from the night Michael shattered her innocence. Trauma is passed on, but so are Final Girl survival skills. The new Halloween breaks its own mold with the trio of last women standing. And while Allyson’s got the button-down part of the Final Girl ensemble down, the vital ingredient is in her genes.

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