“Halloween Kills” – Movie Review

Following a year-long delay, audiences were finally treated to the hotly anticipated (no pun intended) sequel to the 2018 sequel/soft reboot of Halloween.  Promising more blood, gore, and connections to the original film.  And while Halloween Kills certainly delivers on these promises, it has a few narrative issues and bites off more than it can chew in other areas.  The result is a fun slasher movie that could have been great, but settles for good.

Spoilers Ahead – You’ve Been Warned

Revisiting the Past
Halloween 2018 famously retconned every single sequel to the original, including Halloween II, thus severing the sibling tie between Michael Myers and Laurie Strode.  After a brief cold open, establishing that both Cameron and Officer Hawkins survived the first movie, we flashback to a young Officer Hawkins on Halloween night 1978.

In this version of events, the entirety of Halloween II never took place at the hospital, so police are trying to follow Myers after Loomis shot him and did his signature disappearing move from the yard.  We get more with young Lonnie (who pops up later) and a new detail about how Hawkins not only failed to kill Michael Myers, but accidentally shot another officer in the process.

Back in 2018, we’re reintroduced to familiar characters like Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall), Lonnie (Robert Longstreet), Lindsey Wallace (Kyle Richards), and former Nurse Marion (Nancy Stephens), with both Marion and Lindsey being played by the original actresses from the 1978 original.

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There’s a lot of familiar faces from the original, and for the most part, it’s all the same actors.

There’s a sense of camaraderie and community among this group (as well as Haddonfield itself), as Tommy delivers a grim but poignant reminder to a bar crowd about the tragedy of Halloween 1978, now on its 40th anniversary.  In many ways, this film does to Tommy Doyle what the last one did to Laurie Strode.

Here, Tommy is equally traumatized following his encounter with Myers as a young child.  And it makes sense, given that he was such a young impressionable child during that encounter.   There’s a genuinely touching moment when he’s at Laurie’s bedside in the hospital and he tells her that he’s going to protect her the way that she protected him 40 years ago.

Anthony Michael Hall himself gives a layered and relatable performance as someone who wants to do what’s right, but his own issues sometimes blind him from doing what makes sense.  The only issue this creates is a movie that’s not quite sure who it wants the main character or plot to be.

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It’s also pretty unforgivable that in this entire movie, Michael Myers and Laurie have zero scenes together.

Michael Myers vs. Haddonfield
At its core, Halloween Kills is two movies.  One is a direct sequel to the 2018 movie and continues the storyline of Laurie, Karen, and Allyson dealing with their shared trauma and facing the realization that Michael Myers survived.  And the other is a story of a town tired of living in fear, and going into full mob rule to finally kill the evil that’s plagued them.  The only issue being that both movies don’t mesh together very well.

Plotwise, it jumps around quite a bit, lingers far too long in 1978, and tries to be too many things at the same time.  The Tommy Doyle story would have been for its own interesting movie, as would have Laurie’s arc.  But the movie wants to treat both of them as the protagonist and it sadly doesn’t work.

And as much as we love fan service, it spends too much time lingering in the past rather than moving on into the future.  It was genuinely cool to see actors like Kyle Richards, Nancy Stephens, and Charles Cyphers return to roles they played 40 years ago, but for the most part, their characters just sort of exist as fan service without really adding anything to the overall plot or story.

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Had the whole movie been about Haddonfield turning on Myers, it would be have been more concise.

The Nature of Evil
From the very first film, Dr. Loomis referred to Myers as the epitome of evil, and he’s been famously credited as “The Shape” (of Evil) ever since.  Because of this, diehard fans have always insisted that his motivation is irrelevant and that Michael Myers is merely the Boogeyman, the shape of evil itself.  And this movie leans into that idea more than any previous iteration, which is both good and bad.

There’s a fascinating philosophical exploration about the effect Myers has had on the town itself.  The trauma of his original killings have left Laurie and Tommy jaded and paranoid to the horrors of the world, and it’s cost them both in their interpersonal relationships.  The idea that Myers is a beacon of negative energy that infects the rest of the town is a new and creative concept.

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It also suggests that his attachment to the masks is more than just for aesthetic reasons.

We see the tragic consequence of this as Tommy’s angry mob takes the law into their own hands.  Not only does it result in most of them getting killed in the process, but it also results in the death of another innocent person whom they mistook for Myers.

It’s hardly the first time in the franchise’s history that an innocent person was killed, having been mistaken for Myers.  But unlike Ben Tramer’s explosive death in Halloween II, this tragic mistake is treated with a very realistic, gritty, and upsetting manner.  You really feel that death, and while Leigh Brackett’s line, “He’s turning us into monsters” is admittedly on the nose, it perfectly summarizes Myers’ effect on Haddonfield.

But it’s in this department that the movie meanders off into Curse of Michael Myers territory with its supernatural leanings.  Halloween Kills simultaneously wants us to believe that only Laurie and Myers can kill each other, that Myers is just pure evil, and that he just wants to go home and doesn’t actually care about Laurie.  All three of these can’t be true at the same time.

And in an ending that will prove to be as divisive as the Rob Zombie remake, we see Myers fully realized in pseudo-supernatural form.  After 90 minutes of watching him brutally murder people, and it is brutal (Halloween Kills defiintely earns its title), we’re treated to the epitome of satisfying fan service.  Tommy Doyle and his mob successfully ensnare Myers in a trap and just purge 40 years worth of fear and trauma as they beat the hell out of him with bats, clubs, knives, and even a few bullets.

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Shoutout to the amazing stuntwork and gore effects that made all these kills possible!

Let’s be very clear.  The issue isn’t that Myers survives and continues killing, thus ruining the triumphant moment.  The issue is that it shoehorns in the concept (at the last minute) that the more he kills, the more supernatural he becomes, all in an attempt to create a cliffhanger because we all know another movie is planned.

Myers always remained scary because of the mystique surrounding him.  He works best existing on that tiny fringe border between human and supernatural.  Make him too human with human motivations, and you get Rob Zombie’s Halloween.  But make him too supernatural and you get the Cult of Thorn.  And the way this movie ended, suggests we may be headed for that territory in Halloween Ends.

Overall, Halloween Kills is very much a mixed bag.  It has clever and humorous dialogue coupled with violent kills that far surpass its predecessors (except perhaps for Rob Zombie’s version).  So if you’re just looking for a good slasher with some bloody kills, it will satisfy that desire.

But it struggles too much with not being sure what kind of movie it wants to be, or even who it wants the main character to be.  It grants Myers legendary status among the residents of Haddonfield, but it (like the 2018 movie) takes away all the sequels that made him such a legend.  It feels less like a complete Halloween movie, and more like a setup to a conclusion that hopefully doesn’t continue down this path…

What did you think of Halloween Kills?  What do you hope to see in Halloween Ends?  Let us know in the comments!

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