‘Halloween Kills’ Review — Brutal, Bloody, and Ridiculously Fun

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Michael Myers cannot be killed. He cannot be stopped in sequels. He cannot be stopped in remakes. He cannot be stopped in legacy sequels. He cannot be stopped in the sequel to the legacy sequel. And you know what? That’s fine with me. More than 40 years after his cinematic killing spree began, it shows no signs of abating. If anything, the masked murderer seems to have found a new level of bloodlust in the new series of films directed by David Gordon Green, who revived the series in 2018 with Halloween which ignored the previous sequels in order to create a direct sequel to the original. David Gordon Green returns to helm the first of his back-to-back sequels, Halloween Kills. This is an ambitious return to Haddonfield, perhaps trying to take on a bit too much in a gore-filled slasher sequel, but I won’t lie – I was entertained throughout Halloween Kills with its ridiculously high body count, geysers of gore, and a vicious streak of misanthropy.

Halloween Kills picks up in the aftermath of the 2018 film with Michael Myers trapped in a fiery blaze set by Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). As the three generations of Strode women escape the blaze to seek medical attention for the wounded Laurie, Michael is able to escape the blaze and proceeds to lay waste to all of the first responders. The Strode women seek care for their wounds – physical and emotional – believing that they’ve dispatched the evil that has haunted their family for decades.

As news trickles out to the citizen of Haddonfield about Michael Myers’ latest rampage, a panic starts to take hold. Led by those who had survived their encounter with the masked madman, including Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall), the young boy Laurie babysat in the first film, as well as Marion and Lindsey (Nancy Stephens and Kyle Richards, each returning from the 1978 original) and Lonnie (Robert Longstreet), a new character introduced in a flashback. They lead a group of local vigilantes determined to kill Michael Myers before he kills again, chanting “Evil dies tonight,” as they seek their bloody vengeance. The bloodlust for Michael Myers’ head is so pervasive that Allyson even reteams with her cheating boyfriend Cameron (Dylan Arnold) to slay the unstoppable force of evil.

If 2018’s Halloween was about generational trauma, Halloween Kills is about collective trauma. Those affected by the horrific crimes of Michael Myers are desperate to destroy the boogeyman that has haunted their town for 40 years. This, of course, doesn’t lead to rational actions and one particular sequence of a collective freak out quickly escalates before taking an incredibly dark turn. While produced prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the irrationality of the crowd acting out of a dangerous combination of fear and rage reflected some of the more horrific moments of our shared nightmare of the past 18 months, with echoes of the anti-lockdown protests that occurred at statehouses as well as the frenzied rage of the January 6th insurrection. While people may claim that the characters in Halloween Kills are too stupid for their own good, there’s a certain misanthropic streak that runs through the screenplay by David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, and Scott Teems that reflects what we’ve seen time and time again – people don’t inherently act in their best interest.

There are going to be plenty of people frustrated by the fact that Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode is mostly sidelined during the events of Halloween Kills, the wounds sustained in the previous film leaving her ailing throughout the mayhem of the sequel. She’s recovering from her wounds in a hospital room beside Officer Hawkins (Will Patton), who barely survived the vicious stabbing from the previous film. Laurie and Hawkins each share their own sense of guilt for the latest rampage that Michael Myers has unleashed, each thinking about the moments they could’ve killed the silent murdering machine. Of course, this shared guilt will be a major factor in next year’s Halloween Ends, and the film’s shocking conclusion will also reverberate through the series’ intended conclusion.

I understand that I’m in the minority, but I had a lot of fun watching Halloween Kills. It gave me everything I wanted out of a Halloween sequel – a creepy, atmospheric score by John Carpenter (working with Cody Carpenter and David A. Davies) and a ton of absolutely brutal kills. This sequel unleashes torrents of gore as Michael’s latest rampage is just unrelenting in its violence. There’s so much blood in this movie that the blood at times literally runs down the screen. The sights and sounds of each kill are so gruesome that you can’t help but cringe at the ghastliness. But it’s also a gorehound’s delight, an absolute frenzy of cinematic violence that revels in the bloody chaos.

Halloween Kills may not be a great sequel, but it’s a damn fun Halloween movie. I think that David Gordon Green and Danny McBride are just having a blast crafting these movies. Sometimes they might try to take on a bit too much in this sequel, but they never get sidetracked too much that they lose sight of what makes a Halloween movie fun – a masked madman accruing a massive body count. The weakest elements of Halloween Kills are some of the 1978 flashbacks that try to expand the canvas of the original to bring in new characters and provide them depth, but it is possible that these moments might pay off even bigger in the upcoming Halloween Ends. Ever since 1981’s Halloween II, the sequels to John Carpenter’s slasher masterpiece have been divisive and debated amongst horror fans. David Gordon Green continues that tradition with a sequel that’s not for everyone, but I had a hell of a good time watching the latest Michael Myers murder spree.

Halloween Kills
  • Overall Score
3.5

Summary

David Gordon Green’s Halloween Kills ups its predecessors body count with ample kills and geysers of gore. While sometimes a bit too ambitious for a slasher sequel, Halloween Kills gives the audience what they expect from a Halloween film.

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