Halloween Kills Review: Let’s Kill Tonight
The 2018 movie Halloween was a refreshing take on a sometimes bloated franchise. Choosing to skip over everything in between it and the original 1978 film, it treated the story as serious. Or, you know, as serious as a movie about a killer in a rubber mask can be. Now, after a delay of the Halloween sequel, it’s finally here. So let’s review Halloween Kills, which has the difficult task of being the filling in the trilogy sandwich.
Spoilers for Halloween Kills to follow.
When We Last Left Haddonfield, Michael Was Dead
Y’all know how it is with these movie monsters. For example, take one of my favorite exchanges regarding the resilience of movie killers–it’s in the classique Monster Squad. Sean’s dad, finding him watching an installment of his favorite horror franchise, Groundhog Day, bemoans the fact that the killer always returns from the grave. He says, “If they blew him up, put his head in a blender and mailed the rest of him to Norway, he would still return from the grave!” And of course, Sean replies, “That was part 7.”
That line probably draws more inspiration from Jason Voorhees than from Michael Myers. Still, ol’ Mikey is a comeback kid. We know this from the many movies in Halloween‘s franchise. But remember, we’re not supposed to know that. As far as this movie is concerned, only it and its predecessor exist outside the original.
Nevertheless, he persisted Michael has the staying power. Even after Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) traps him in her basement and sets the house on fire, he keeps going. It doesn’t hurt that the fire squad immediately rushes to put out the blaze, but that does raise more questions. Like, Laurie’s spent 40 years working on her plan to kill him, but she never thought to tell her neighbors, “If you see my house on fire, then no, you don’t”? Girl, I guess.
Anyway, he’s alive.
And Boy, Is He Loving It
image via Universal Pictures
In the age of superhero movies, it’s easy to forget that while iconic horror movie characters might be as beloved to their audiences as comic book characters are, they are not the same. They are killers, who (usually) don’t have some sort of mission behind the murdering they do. Halloween Kills understands that.
Because once the citizens of Haddonfield realize he’s on the loose (again), they erupt in outrage. They basically form vigilante squads, which ends up fomenting at least one riot. It probably feels good to bask in that rage and chant things with others like, “Evil dies tonight!”
But, uh, Michael Myers ain’t some shrinking violet. He’s barely a person. He’s more like, as they acknowledge in the movie, an apex predator. Or, he’s facts and he doesn’t care about your feelings. So when the mob comes for him, he doesn’t react like they apparently think he will. All he wants to do is kill.
Halloween Kills Review
That is one of the strengths in this movie. It understands the character of Michael Myers. As such, he commits some truly stunning acts of violence in this film, including the cheap shot that ends this part of the story. This is not a movie that is concerned with fan service, at least not in that way. While it features the return of some of the 1978 movie’s actors, it never wants you to forget that it’s a miracle they survived.
image via Universal Pictures
Unfortunately, though, that clear-eyed understanding does little to outweigh some of the clunkier parts of the narrative. For one thing, Laurie Strode is an icon, part of the pantheon of final girls. In this movie, though, she mostly keeps a hospital bed warm. It’s probably illogical to expect her to join the fray so soon after a stabbing, yes. In her absence, though, the movie should have gifted us some compelling alternatives. Sadly, it does not. It just goes on, dragging out its narrative.
In addition, it fumbles the messages it’s trying to send. In one case, it’s far too blunt–it has the characters literally telling us the moral. And in others, it’s just too blurry. Take, for instance, the riot at the hospital. The imagery seems designed to invoke the memory of January 6th (although it was filmed well in advance). But what are they saying here, exactly? Things are rough in America? Buddy, don’t we know it.
Listen, when I prepared to review Halloween Kills, I knew that it would have a tough job. As I mentioned in my review of Fear Street‘s middle segment, making a good middle to a trilogy is a delicate balancing act. It’s probably harder for a movie like this. How many audience members even know that Halloween Ends is coming next year? I would guess a decent chunk don’t know, and that’s a problem. Because if they didn’t, then the end of this one likely plays as bleak and unfinished. But that’s basically the vibe of the whole thing.
Halloween Kills is in theaters and streaming on Peacock.
What did you think of Halloween Kills? Tell us in these comments, on our social media, or through a closet’s louvered doors.
featured image via Universal Pictures
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at [email protected]