HALLOWEEN KILLS is directed by David Gordon Green. It stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Thomas Mann, Anthony Michael Hall, Kyle Richards, Nancy Stephens, and Charles Cyphers. It’s a direct sequel to the 2018 HALLOWEEN film, which itself served as a direct sequel to the original 1978 HALLOWEEN, ignoring all other sequels. A third installment in this “reboot/sequel trilogy” entitled HALLOWEEN ENDS, is slated for release in 2022.
On Halloween in 2018, Michael Myers escaped from a prisoner bus, only to return to Haddonfield and resume the killing spree he started way back in 1978. Laurie Strode and family believed they killed Michael in a fire at what was Strode’s home, but it’s not long before the masked man is back on the Haddonfield streets, as Laurie recovers in a hospital bed. This time around, several townspeople form a posse to hunt down and stop the mysterious mindless killer before he takes any more lives.
Horror sequels are an inevitability. It’s widely believed the HALLOWEEN franchise had grown stagnant over the years, after countless films that included a reboot duology directed by Rob Zombie. But 2018’s HALLOWEEN gave us the sequel we never knew we needed or wanted, giving the original film a surprisingly strong direct sequel, largely more in tune with the original film and less ridiculous than anything from the pool of sequels. After a year’s delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, HALLOWEEN KILLS has finally arrived. The title is as accurate as can be; David Gordon Green’s latest installment in this long-running series cranks the violence and the kill count up to 11, reintroducing us to classic characters and even expanding Haddonfield as a setting. At times the film is a bit too fan-servicey, and it tries to juggle too many characters, plot points, and has the inevitable bone-headed moves from our heroes, but if Green wanted to create a film with the sole purpose of giving audiences what they want, I think it’s safe to say HALLOWEEN KILLS fits the bill.
Casting and characters of the HALLOWEEN films have long been one of the favorite aspects of many a fan. It’s great to finally have Jamie Lee Curtis back in the role that introduced her to the world of cinema, and seeing this traumatized take on Laurie Strode with a life torn apart by her 1970s experience evading Michael Myers has made for some interesting moments. Due to her injuries, the character is largely sidelined in a hospital bed for the duration of this film, yet she still manages to get in some good moments. The boy she once babysat, Tommy Doyle, has returned to the fray, this time around played by Anthony Michael Hall (THE BREAKFAST CLUB, NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION), who brings new life into this character as a posse leader of sorts. Even an aging Charles Cyphers returns to the role of Brackett, the former Haddonfield Sheriff, a man who once lost a daughter to Myers who wants revenge as much as anyone else in town. A true standout here is Andi Matichak as Laurie’s granddaughter, torn between obeying her mothers wishes and joining the posse who wants to take out Michael Myers once and for all.
Of course, HALLOWEEN is a legendary franchise due to one character who’s not quite a man and not quite a monster – Michael Myers. Other horror franchises succeed because they create monsters with tragic backstories through which they become somewhat sympathetic, to the point that audiences cheer for them as much as the heroes. Michael Myers has no real backstory or motive or his killings. He’s a silent antagonist, and attempts by characters in the film series to get in touch with his inner psyche turn up absolutely nothing. Myers is scary as hell (and loved by audiences!) for the reason that we know nothing about him. He’s an equal-opportunity killer, and no one in HALLOWEEN KILLS is safe, regardless of age, social status, profession, or even sexual orientation. Michael Myers kills like never before in this movie, and the body count and moments of gore and violence speak for themselves. The less we know about him, the scarier he is. Director Green doesn’t change this, and bless him for that.
This film also deserves credit for expanding Haddonfield and its lore. It’s long been the setting for the HALLOWEEN series of films, but here we get a more three-dimensional view of the town, getting an idea of what kinds of people live there and how Michael Myers’ 1970s massacre has shaped the way people act and think. It introduces us to a colorful cast of characters, some old and some new alike. I admittedly haven’t seen every film in the series (seems kind of pointless in a lot of ways since this new sequel trilogy ignores all the old films other than the original) but this is the one in which Haddonfield probably felt the most like a “real town” to me. World building is always a welcomed addition to any film, and I’m glad Haddonfield is more than “just a backdrop” in HALLOWEEN KILLS.
Where HALLOWEEN KILLS succeeds best is, well…. the kills. The filmmakers hold absolutely nothing back here. Many characters meet gory ends at the hands of Michael Myers, and the movie pushes the R rating to its absolute limits (I’m not sure if any movie in history has ever gotten an NC-17 rating on the basis of violence alone, but I imagine this is about as close as you can get while still being R-rated). Mr. Myers is at his absolute best (or worst, depending on how you look at it) this time around, with the movie keeping viewers on the edge of their seats. Once again, no one being safe is something that’s truer here than it’s ever been in the HALLOWEEN franchise.
What truly impressed me about the movie is its handling of angry mob justice, if you can truly call it justice. We see a town warped by its hatred towards one man, to the fact that the townspeople become just as dangerous, if not more so, than Michael Myers. The true strength of Myers is not his own physical prowess and kill count, but the fact that he can turn an entire peaceful town into ravaging, insane maniacs who’ll seek their own definition of justice by any means necessary. It was interesting to see this dynamic, and for the most part, the approach doesn’t disappoint.
That said, the movie does fall short of greatness. It doesn’t really bring anything new to the table for the franchise at large, and fans expecting a revolutionary sequel will find more of the same here. The movie tries to juggle far too many characters and subplots; many familiar faces are relegated to glorified cameos and not much more. The movie needed to cut about half of the plots and characters to stay focused; the end result is more scattershot than it should’ve been. One of the biggest offenders here is a subplot regarding a police officer who met Myers back during his original rampage following the end of the first movie (we apparently flashback scenes/subplots like this since HALLOWEEN II is no longer considered canon), but this subplot goes absolutely nowhere and amounts to nothing. I will, however, say that the film succeeds more than it falters.
It’s far from perfect. It’s nothing revolutionary. And despite that, I still had a great time watching HALLOWEEN KILLS. Michael Myers does what he does best, and the film features intense violence with interesting characters and situations throughout, further expanding the lore of Haddonfield and the relentless killing spree of one of Hollywood’s greatest movie monsters. Fans of violent horror and suspense flicks will love what they find here. Recommended, but certainly not a film for the squeamish!