Gary Busey once eloquently noted that “A very familiar feeling is starting to come over me.” And it has nothing to do with being a horse’s ass.
In 1978, the daughter of Janet Leigh began a quest that saw her complete seven horror-related projects by 1982, a window of time which propelled Jamie Lee Curtis into a stratosphere of scream queen all her own.
And I have a sneaky suspicion that history is repeating itself.
For all her horror roles (which didn’t end in ’82 mind you), Curtis shall be forever linked to the role of Laurie Strode in John Carpenter’s untouchable Halloween.
While Curtis hammered out “The night HE came home,” The Fog, Prom Night and some voice work for Escape from New York and Halloween III: Season of the Witch, she laid the groundwork for a career which has expanded into drama and even comedy, and thrives to this very day.
If early returns are any indication, however, we may be saying the same about Anya Taylor-Joy years from now.
The Witch was a star-making performance for the 20-year old actress, which left critics and fans alike blown away by her portrayal of a young woman growing into her body and identity who seemed misplaced as the daughter of a devout Puritan family, only to be accused of witchcraft by the very people who were supposed to love her most.
From frustration and fear to anger and finally acceptance of what a new life could be, every step Taylor-Joy took along Thomasin’s journey of discovery was delicious.
But much like Curtis almost four decades before her, Taylor-Joy isn’t stopping there.
Curtis quickly moved into other roles that proved memorable in their own right, and though horror audiences have not yet had the opportunity to lay eyes on Morgan or M. Night Shyamalan’s Split, trailers for said films certainly seem to contain stories and Taylor-Joy performances that will place her firmly in the upper echelon of not only today’s scream queens, but set off a long career which will likely delve into other genres.
With turns in Barry and Thoroughbred completed or in post-production, that expansion into drama has already begun, but it can’t be overstated that simply appearing in horror films does not a scream queen make. Nay, like Curtis before her, Taylor-Joy is making quality horror which leaves a lasting impression. Films like The Witch don’t simply come and go, they stay with us. Subsequent films are held to their light years on, much like a little flick titled Halloween (to a lesser extent, of course).
Morgan hits theatres on September 2, and tells the tale of a sequestered, artificially created humanoid who has a little Carrie and Eleven in her, and the debate whether she’s too dangerous to be allowed to live and breathe. Taylor-Joy plays the title role.
Split, Shyamalan’s follow-up to The Visit, is scheduled for release next January and has the looks of an instant classic. Taylor-Joy plays one of three teenage girls abducted by a man with at least 23 personalities, one of which is known as “The Beast.”
Put The Witch, Morgan and Split on screen in less than a calendar year and images of a trio of films by the names of Halloween, The Fog and Prom Night begin dancing through this writer’s head.
While it can be difficult to contain enthusiasm for films and a performer which appear to hold so much promise, it cannot be overstated that 2016 has been an amazing year for the genre. However, due to films like The Witch and performers like Taylor-Joy, we are forced us to remind ourselves to not jump the gun.
That said, it is admittedly a bit early to compare an actress with but a handful of roles to a legend like Curtis, but take a moment to truly ponder what we have seen and what we shall soon see from Anya Taylor-Joy, and ask yourself if this is only the beginning.
And whether the new Laurie Strode isn’t already here.