Home Alone is not a great movie. Nevertheless, in 1991, it was one of three VHS tapes that my grandparents owned that I had any interest in watching, and as a result I have seen Home Alone so many times that I could probably recite the movie by now. I could even recite the gratuitous scene in which Kevin, as played by Macaulay Culkin, fear-shoplifts a toothbrush that may or may not be approved by the American Dental Association.
There are aspects of the film that make no sense. Why does Kevin’s family hate him so much? Why are the Wet Bandits, played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, able to survive what should be deadly violence with only cartoon injuries? How is Kevin able to assemble and clean up his sadistic Rube Goldberg death trap of a house so quickly? Why is he so protective of his house? Why didn’t he go to the police station, or tell one of the many adults he encounters outside of his house what had happened? Why is Kevin’s mom the only adult who actually seems that concerned about Kevin’s well-being?
And then, last year, it came to me: This movie is better if Kevin is dead.
You might think this is too much of a reach. You might think insisting that Kevin McCallister is dead and doesn’t know it is the most lunatic film interpretation ever, and that my editor was crazy to let me write this insane subway screamer manifesto instead of writing something worthwhile. Well, I don’t care. I am going to M. Night Shyamalan Home Alone for you.
The film opens with a chaotic scene in a Winnetka, Illinois, mansion, where 14 extremely wealthy people of all ages hate a malignant and destructive little ghost named Kevin, who thinks he’s still alive. Kevin is a chaotic spirit who leaves toy cars on the floor and destroys his father’s new fish hooks. (Question: If the family is so rich then why is Mr. McCallister so angry that his “new” fish hooks have been made into ornaments? Just buy more, moneybags!) We know everybody hates Kevin because they tell him so, seemingly gratuitously. One cousin calls him a “disease.” Uncle Frank calls him a “little jerk.” It doesn’t make sense for an entire extended family to be that cruel to one 8-year-old member. Unless that 8-year-old is a ghost that won’t leave them alone.
“I’m sorry, this house is just crazy,” Kate McCallister (played by Catherine O’Hara) says as she pays for pizza. Crazy haunted.
In the Dead Kevin version of Home Alone, the reason the extended family has gathered in the Winnetka house is that the next day, they’re all going to fly to Paris without Kevin, so they can get a little peace and quiet. Leaving him home was deliberate; nobody actually thought Kevin would join them on the trip to Paris, because he’s a spirit who is tethered to the house. Kate McCallister is the only person who reacts to forgetting Kevin the way a normal person would to forgetting a child. Her husband Peter is oddly calm, as are Aunt Leslie and Uncle Frank, who tries to comfort Kate by telling her that he forgot his reading glasses.