Movie Review: ‘Halloween Kills’

Review by James Lindorf

It has been 43 years since the night he came home in 1978. In that time, there have been nine sequels focused on the shape of evil that terrorizes Haddonfield, Illinois. There was that one other sequel that involved Stonehenge, killer masks, and androids, but it best not to talk about that one. With the recent wide release of “Halloween Kills,” Michael Myers is back for the 11th time. Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode for the 5th or 6th depending on how you feel about “Halloween Resurrection,” and Director David Gordon Green is at the helm of his second film. “Halloween Kills” is the second in a planned trilogy that began with the highly successful if not originally named “Halloween” in 2018 and will conclude with “Halloween Ends” on October 14th, 2022.

When we last saw Grandmother Laurie (Curtis), Daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), they were speeding away from the burning home where they left Michael to die for the final time. Even though it has been three years since we last saw them, in the tradition of 1981’s Halloween II, “Halloween Kills” opens up seconds after its predecessor. Laurie is on her way to the hospital, and firefighters are on the way to try and save her house. Unsurprising to anyone who knows this is the 11th movie or has seen a trailer, the firefighters find a very alive and deadly Michael trapped in the basement. This scene gives us possibly the best-looking shot of the film as a singed Michael emerges surrounded by flames with a firefighting tool in his knife hand, ready to kill anyone in his way.

That mentality leads to the two most essential elements of the film. The first is that “Halloween Kills” is an appropriate title as Michael claimed a body count nearly double any of his previous films. Not only does he kill more people than usual, but he also goes about it in a very non-Michael Myers way. He has killed his fair share of people, but he often spent more time lurking in the background and killing when needed. He also preferred to use his bare hands or a knife for said murder. This time around, he uses broken fluorescent lights, saws, axes, basically anything sharp or deadly he can get his hands on. This Michael is also ruthless, rivaling what was seen in the Rob Zombie movies. During one unnecessary breaking and entering and murdering, Michael takes a dying person, drags them to the kitchen, and stabs them with everything from the knife block except for the one he takes with him. Fans of this series, especially the original, often sight the tension that builds, waiting for the boogeyman to come from the darkness to claim his next victim. If you are one of those people, know that this is much a more intense and direct slasher than you know and love.

The second key element is built around two questions: who is responsible for Michael’s continued reign of terror, and what is his goal. Even though he appeared to have been killed by Michael’s psychiatrist, Officer Frank Hawkins (Will Patton) is still alive. However, he is severely riddled with knife wounds and guilt over stopping the execution of Michael back in 1978. In several well-done flashbacks, we are shown how a young Frank was part of the city-wide manhunt for the escaped psychopath. Frank and another officer went to the old Myers’ house and confronted the killer. Only one of them made it out alive, and the other made sure Michael wound up in chains instead of an unmarked grave. Since that day, Frank has questioned his decision, and now that evil has returned, he is determined to be the one to put an end to it. Since he spends the entire movie in a hospital bed next to Laurie, we will have to wait until next year to see which one will get to ease their guilty conscience. Patton and Curtis may be the best actors in the movie, but their characters have blurred to the point of being redundant. Frank is just a more well-adjusted version of Laurie, which leaves Green with an uphill battle to give them both satisfying conclusions.

Frank and Laurie aren’t the only ones holding a grudge, and we see the return of multiple side characters from the original movie who are out for their pound of flesh. Returning for his third film and played by a third actor is Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall). Tommy is joined by fellow returning characters Lonnie (Robert Longstreet), Marion, and Lindsey, played by original actors Nancy Stephens and Kyle Richards. The four bring a large number of townsfolk to their cause who grab anything handy to use as a weapon and hunt down Michael to the chant of “evil dies tonight.” Few things go right for the group of vigilantes, with their ranks being severely thinned by the unstoppable killer. Still, mob leader Tommy won’t go down without a fight and may take the glory where Laurie and Frank Failed.

The second question is the more interesting and more likely to impact the next movie in the trilogy. “What does Michael want?” If you listen to the voice-over from Laurie at the end of the film, he is evil meant to spread fear and hatred. The more that he infects, the more powerful he grows and the more pain he can inflict. The disease caused by The Shape turns good people into violent rabid animals who will take their vengeance from anyone who looks the part of their victimizer. Maybe his goal is to infect the entire world; perhaps it is all a means to get Laurie as she has believed for the last 40 years, or maybe it is something else. No matter what, we only have to wait one more year to find out.

“Halloween Kills” is a perfect bridge between the first and third films. It spends all of its time looking forward or back, setting things in motion without achieving much on its own. Green had something to say about mob mentality and a slasher as a terrorist. Unfortunately, it is said during a mostly mindless murder extravaganza with less than stellar dialogue. Less pointless violence and more time developing the characters would have been ideal. Still, as presented, it is an above-average gorefest. Expectations were the real killer here. “Halloween Kills” can’t begin to live up to the classic that “Halloween” was but still scores a 3 out of 5 for what it does right. There is also a chance to improve that score depending on how it fits in the final product.

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