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Warning: The following contains major SPOILERS for Halloween (the new one).
In the climax of the new Halloween, while in the basement of Laurie Strode's home, Judy Greer's Karen is pleading with her mother, seemingly unable to use a gun to save herself and her daughter from Michael Myers. Then, when The Shape reveals himself at the top of the stairs, Karen says "gotcha" and blasts the villain with her rifle. It's a great line and a badass moment and there's a good chance that if you were in a packed theater there was a lot of laughing, cheering and clapping in response.
Unfortunately, the vocal response to that moment actually has many audience members missing another great line that follows it. After the "gotcha" line, Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode says "Happy Halloween, Michael." It's an awesome line from the franchise heroine, but it's getting missed because of the crowd and that's partly due to the line not being a part of test screenings, as director David Gordon Green explained:
I'll tell you an interesting thing ... it's about editing and test screenings. Test screenings are beautiful because you can know how to move things around for those types of audience responses. But I'd never tested that line because I thought it was like, 'Oh, is that too much?' And then the last change we made in our picture cutting was to add that line back in. Then the result is that you don't hear it because we put it in the wrong place. It's got its own charm as obviously people will watch the movie in different environments without necessarily a ruckus. It's in there.
David Gordon Green initially thought that the "Happy Halloween, Michael" line was too on the nose, so he left out and only put it back in at the last moment. The test screenings had already happened at this point, so the director was unable to see how it played to audiences and specifically how audience reactions to the previous line masked this line.
We often think about test screening as simply gauging whether an audience did or did not like a film, but David Gordon Green brings up an interesting point about how the audiences' reactions in test screenings could actually help a film's structure. They probably knew they had something with the "gotcha" line, but perhaps didn't think about and weren't able to test how putting in Laurie Strode's line would play in such close proximity.
Part of the fun of seeing a movie in the theater is the communal experience, as you and a room full of strangers experience the same emotions and react as one to what's happening onscreen. However, this is an instance where that community can cause a problem, even when everyone is well-behaved and being respectful audience members.
Fortunately, as David Gordon Green told the Los Angeles Times, when you watch the movie in different environments that line might shine a bit more. If you're just watching the film in your own home there won't be quite that communal desire to cheer. And if you've seen the movie before, you know the "gotcha" moment is coming and you'll be able to appreciate the second line just as much.
The two lines work great together thematically, as they illustrate how fierce the mother and daughter pair are. After almost a whole film of eschewing firearms and her mother's paranoia, Karen demonstrates that the lessons her mother taught her as a child were not forgotten. And Laurie Strode gets to dunk on Michael Myers after living with the specter of him for 40 years.
Halloween is now playing, so if you see it again, be sure to listen for Laurie Strode's badass line. Check out our release schedule to see all the biggest movies heading to theaters the rest of this year, and for the latest in one-liners that make you stand up and cheer, stay tuned to CinemaBlend.