Halloween Kills (2021) the Momentum Built Up by the Previous 2018 Installment
Title: Halloween Kills
First Non-Festival Release: October 14, 2021 (Theatrical Release)
Director: David Gordon Green
Writer: John Carpenter, Debra Hill, Scott Teems
Runtime: 106 Minutes
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Taking place immediately after the events of the 2018 Halloween, Halloween Kills picks up with Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), Karen (Judy Greer), and Allyson (Andi Matichak) driving away from the burning compound after trapping Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle). They make it to the hospital where they receive treatment for the injuries, they sustained from fighting back against Michael. Unbeknownst to them, Michael has found a way to escape and is slaughtering everyone in his path home. The townsfolk of Haddonfield have had enough. Forming a vigilante mob, they decide to take justice into their own hands.
An unfocused, albeit still satisfying, entry in the Halloween franchise, Halloween Kills racks up tension with a high body count.
The second part of any trilogy is doomed to shoulder the biggest issues of the three films in question. Halloween Kills owns some of those storytelling issues quite apparently. The opening adds more backstory but cuts between too many narratives to be helpful. It feels much like cinematic whiplash, being tossed between the Strodes, the people of Haddonfield, and Michael’s malicious murder spree. It never fully recovers after this.
The narrative is constantly trying to tie all these pieces together while never successfully making them compelling stories in their own right. It all feels very disjointed and unfinished. Which, again, makes sense since this is the middle of a trilogy. There are, however, at least two opportunities within the film for a satisfying or definitive ending before starting part three and they just refuse to end it.
With its muddled story comes the half-baked commentary on mob mentality. The film does a clear job of emphasizing how groupthink hurt the wrong people and that vigilantism is misguided at best. In a way, the mob foils and mirrors Michael, aka “The Shape,” by being this amorphous blob while attacking and killing at random. While their motives are clearer, their tactics are just as brutal and unforgiving. By the end, vigilantism kills the people who fall into its trap, which could be read as poetic justice. It’s a cool concept but not executed particularly well here.
Laurie, Karen, and Allyson get stuck with not a whole lot to do. Most of the action happens at the expense of secondary characters who exist to up the body count. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it feels stale. The trio hardly gets enough character development to justify the film. They carry the film along with the always charming Jim Cummings as Pete McCabe and resident Haddonfield gay couple Big John (Scott MacArthur) and Little John (Michael McDonald).
I’m still trying to understand what this iteration’s goal is exactly. In the end, it feels like nothing is really accomplished by any of the characters. There isn’t much growth or progression in the story aside from one revelation about the night Michael was taken into custody. It all feels like a wasted opportunity. The dialogue is melodramatic, the story lags, and it doesn’t even feel like it is set on Halloween night. If some of the characters weren’t in costumes, it could be set on any other day of the year and the viewer wouldn’t know the difference. It’s these little things that really steal the joy away from this film and prevents me personally from fully enjoying it.
I know this review is largely negative, but I still enjoyed Halloween Kills for what it’s meant to be. There are a few choice sequences that are incredibly tense, and Michael is as vicious as ever. The infamous opening fireman massacre scene is inspired and allows for some truly wicked gore moments to pop through early. Through and through it’s a dark and straight played horror film that revels in its bleak slasher grime. It’s very clear that this film was never meant to be the pinnacle of the new trilogy.
At the end of the day, Halloween Kills is another installment in the never-ending saga of Michael Myers’ reign of terror on Haddonfield, Illinois. It does what it needs to do. The kills are gory and creative, the tension is palpable, and the setting is appropriately atmospheric and moody. It loses steam, however, by overplaying its hand. An incoherent narrative and lack of focus on the Strode family, Halloween Kills doesn’t regain the luster polished onto the franchise by its previous incarnate. By the time we reach the end it feels pointless. Doubling down on a trilogy when a two-part resurrection makes more sense is easily what trapped this film in the end. You’ll get what you want out of Halloween Kills, it just won’t be as sweet as the trick-or-treat candy scattered around the corpses.
Overall Score? 6/10