October 14, 2021

Review: The Standard Slasher Sequel Lives On in “Halloween Kills”

There are going to be a lot of funerals in Haddonfield.

Halloween Kills picks up mere minutes after the conclusion of 2018’s Halloween, with Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) leaving infamous serial killer Michael Myers for dead. This is a slasher movie, though, so of course Michael escapes, and violence ensues.

Halloween Kills feels like the action movie-wannabe middle child of this new trilogy from Blumhouse and David Gordon-Green. With the residents of Haddonfield mobilized and ready to take down Michael — “Evil dies tonight!” — there’s bound to be lots of blood spilled…and spill it does. Kills more than doubles the body count of its predecessor, but it all feels a bit tired, and sometimes the kills are for the sake of crowd-pleasing, which works when they’re creative but falls flat when it doesn’t advance the story or add to character development in any meaningful way.

Speaking of characters, there are a lot in this movie. Kills seems intent on coalescing the various generations of past Halloween characters into one story with one primary motivation, and for the most part, it works — Anthony Michael Hall and Robert Longstreet play Tommy Doyle and Lonnie Elam (child characters from the original 1978 film), while Kyle Richards, Nancy Stephens and Charles Cyphers reprise their roles directly from John Carpenter’s original. There’s a lot of running around town, searching for Michael, as the villain moves from one bloodbath to the next. It remains engaging and exciting to a certain point.

At the end of the day, though, Halloween Kills is a gorefest (and a really solid one at that). It doesn’t seem sure which message it wants to emphasize, all while doing a disservice to some of the franchise’s best and most iconic characters (hopefully with intent to use them in 2022’s Halloween Ends). Does Kills want to point out how there are monsters in all of us, or does it want us to dive deep into what makes Michael Myers tick? These are among the wealth of questions the movie asks, but these are all covered in different (and better) films. It just doesn’t feel original anymore.

Regardless, Halloween Kills is fun, and that’s all it needed to be. It continues the modern Halloween series’ tendency to include off-kilter humor, only to turn it right back around with breathtakingly tense moments. There’s also a lot of attention paid to the series’ lore, which I enjoy as someone who appreciates the little details, and genuine stakes concerning meaningful characters. Bundle all of this with an open-ended conclusion which I hope will spark a lot of debate and you have the slasher sequel of your dreams.

Lock your doors and grab your knives, horror fans…the boogeyman’s coming, and he’s out for blood. 
[Grade: B]

Director: David Gordon-Green

Writers: David Gordon-Green, Danny McBride, Scott Teems

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney
Rated: R for strong bloody violence throughout, grisly images, language and some drug use
Available: HBO Max
Fun Fact: Producer Jason Blum has stated that Halloween Kills, set to be released on October 14, 2022, will feature a time jump and address the pandemic.

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