Movie Review: ‘Halloween Kills’ (Second Opinion)
Plot: Picking up immediately after the events of the 2018 film, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) all believe they’ve finally put an end to Michael Myers by setting Laurie’s house on fire with him inside. However, evil proves hard to kill as Michael miraculously escapes, killing several first responders in the process. As Michael’s path of destruction intensifies towards his childhood home, the people of Haddonfield take up arms against the brutal killer, determined to stop him once and for all.
Review: Director David Gordon Green’s 2018 film Halloween served as a direct sequel to the 1978 John Carpenter classic, retconning all previous sequels. The film was a hit with fans, critics, and at the box office, taking in over $255 million worldwide. Halloween re-established Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode as a certified badass and proved the franchise still had plenty of staying power. So how well does Halloween Kills stack up against its predecessor? I’m happy to report that the answer to that question is surprisingly well. While not quite on par with the previous film, Halloween Kills still proves to be a terrifying thrill fest and a worthy entry into the storied franchise.
The film begins in epic fashion with Michael escaping Laurie’s burning house and managing to kill most of the first responders in several brutal ways, including the jaws of life. It is an incredibly intense and beautifully shot sequence. Michael Simmonds’ cinematography was particularly effective in Halloween Kills with the repeated use of closeups creating a brutally intimate experience. Indeed, Green makes a concerted effort to linger on the kills, whether it is Michael testing out various knives on a victim while his wife watches, or slowly turning another victim’s head until it snaps. It’s horrifying and that’s the point. The Halloween franchise has always been known for the innovative and creative ways that Michael Myers kills his victims. Halloween Kills is no different, boasting some of the best deaths of the entire series.
When a franchise has gone on as long as Halloween’s has (forty-three years, twelve films, and counting), the obvious danger is revisiting previously unearthed territory. Halloween Kills avoids this by employing two fresh tactics courtesy of writers Green, Danny McBride, and Scott Teems. The first involves an extended flashback sequence involving young Deputy Frank Hawkins (Thomas Mann). This sequence and Hawkins’ actions add context and nuance to Haddonfield and Michael Myers’ legacy. Aside from a distracting CGIed Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis, the flashback works surprisingly well.
The flashback sequences also dovetail nicely into the second tactic utilized in Halloween Kills. Heretofore the Halloween franchise has focused on the effects of trauma on namely one person – Laurie Strode. Yet Halloween Kills dares to ask the question, “How did Michael Myers’ actions in 1978 traumatize Haddonfield?” This is a town that’s been defined by Michael Myers’ brutality. His actions didn’t impact one person; he impacted an entire town. Consequently, Halloween Kills explores how a larger community responds to trauma. Unfortunately, the response entails a degree of misplaced mob justice led by Tommy (Anthony Michael Hall) one of the survivors under Laurie’s care all those years ago. I was surprised how big a role Hall had in this film. His portrayal works about 70% of the time but sometimes veers into melodrama. It’s a fascinating commentary on how poorly society deals with trauma, specifically violent trauma. I wasn’t expecting that from a Halloween film.
This isn’t to say Halloween Kills is overwrought with preachy messages. Far from it. The film moves at a brutal breakneck speed that builds towards an epic final confrontation. Greer’s Karen Nelson gets a chance to flex her acting chops even more so than she did in Halloween. Her role involves both being protector and hunter in ways I wasn’t expecting. John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies’ score is once again on point, employing the classic Halloween theme while adding some new riffs. And as the kids are fond of saying, the last twenty minutes of Halloween Kills are straight fire.
The one glaring drawback of Halloween Kills however, is that Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode gets sidelined for most of the film. After suffering a stab wound by Michael, Laurie is operated on (a delightfully gross sequence) and is regulated to a hospital bad. Granted Curtis makes the most of the scenes she’s in, but it is an odd choice to have your main heroine become an afterthought in her own movie. Then again Halloween Kills as I said explores Haddonfield’s response to trauma, so maybe this was by design.
One important thing to note, is that Green and company take Michael Myers in a very bold direction by the end of the film. The choice implies a supernatural element that somewhat distorts the idea of Michael Myers being an unstoppable killing force. It could be something that turns off Halloween fans, but I personally liked it. In any case this is the middle chapter in a three-film arc, so hopefully Halloween Ends will make Halloween Kills more contextually appealing when it releases next October.
All told Halloween Kills is brutal, vicious, terrifying, and surprisingly deep. It’s an excellent examination of how violent trauma can break us, define us, or make us stronger. It’s also just damn entertaining and – dare I say – fun. October 2022 can’t come soon enough.
1 God Awful Blind Yourself With Acid Bad
2 Straight Garbage
4 Sub Par
8 Very Good
10 A Must See
Halloween Kills: 8/10