In Halloween Kills (2021), the beloved franchise picks up where Halloween (2018) left off. As Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) recovers at the hospital with her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney) emerges from the flames of Laurie’s burning house and massacres a group of first responders in the dramatic scene that is also the opening of the first trailer. As Michael Myers continues his killing spree on the way back to his childhood home, Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) mobilizes the people of Haddonfield to hunt down and kill him. Along the way, many more deaths occur, including that of an innocent man mistaken for Michael Myers. The films ends with an intense showdown between the killer and a group of Haddonfield inhabitants in which Michael Myers survives (surprise!) what would have been death for a normal person.
The film contains plenty of Easter eggs and parallels to earlier films. The Halloween masks from Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) make an appearance. The scene in which Michael Myers murders an elderly couple winding down for the night and leaves with one of their kitchen knives parallels the scene in which he steals a kitchen knife from an elderly couple in Halloween II (1981). Near the end of the film, Allyson tumbles down a staircase and injures her leg, in a similar manner to the way her grandmother fell down a staircase and injured her leg in Halloween (1978). These are just a few examples.
Anytime a pulpy film franchise evolves in new and interesting ways, I am here for it. This is especially true when it comes to the horror genre. This is not to say that I consider the recent Halloween films (here I am referring to Halloween and its sequel, Halloween Kills) better than the original set (here I am referring only to the original Halloween and Halloween II) – that is too tough a call to make. Rather, both the original two films and the two latest films make their own contributions that are both valuable angles of horror.
The movie theater attendant who sold me my ticket to Halloween Kills told me that he remembers the first Halloween movie as the scariest movie he had ever seen. What made it scary? “The boogeyman was in the daylight. He stepped out in front of Laurie in broad daylight. Before then, the boogeyman had always been a figure who creeped around at night.”
The fact that Michael Myers casually wanders around Haddonfield, stalking his victims in the middle of the day, is indeed unnerving. Moreover, the original film has Michael Myers lurking in the background and the corners of the screen, keeping the viewer particularly on edge and scanning the screen for him even in scenes where he does not appear. The horror of the first and second Halloween films comes from their ability to entice the viewer to empathize with the complete terror and loss of personal security that the victims of Michael Myers experience (in between scenes of youngsters having sex, of course).
By contrast, Halloween (2018) and Halloween Kills emphasize collective fear, collective memories and shared trauma, and the responsibility that older generations feel for their offspring. Furthermore, there is a strong emphasis on the making of the Haddonfield community and the ways in which they come together (for good or ill) in response to the boogeyman. I appreciate the fact that the viewer gets to know many of the characters before they are killed off – a trait of the film that makes the killings all the more personal. The interpersonal dimensions of this film are its greatest strength.
This was a solid film that left me eager for the next one. The Halloween franchise has been the first series to give me any appreciation for the slasher sub-genre of horror. Halloween (2018) and Halloween Kills, in particular, have made me especially attached to the Strode family’s legacy and the fate of Haddonfield. Here’s to anticipating Halloween Ends in 2022!
Story as a whole8.0/10
- Director: David Gordon Green
- Writers: Scott Teems, Danny McBride, David Gordon Green
- Producers: Malek Akkad, Jason Blum, Bill Block
- Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, James Jude Courtney, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Thomas Mann, Anthony Michael Hall
- Production Companies: Miramax, Blumhouse Productions, Trancas International Pictures, Rough House Productions
- Distributor: Universal Pictures