October 14, 2021 Halloween Kills (Movie Review)
Are you ready to return to Haddonfield, Illinois? After nearly a year-long pandemic delay, Michael Myers slashes into theaters and at-home streaming on Peacock on Friday, October 15, 2021 thanks to Universal Pictures.
Picking up just minutes after the gruesome events of 2018’s Halloween, Director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express 2008, Halloween 2018) returns to direct this grisly sequel that sees some of the franchise’s most extreme kills. Even the most seasoned Horror veterans may find themselves covering their eyes in this Blumhouse and Universal Pictures presentation. Queen of screams Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween 1978, Freaky Friday 2003) reprises her role as Laurie Strode, while Judy Greer (Ant-Man 2015, Jurassic World 2015) and Andi Matichak (Halloween 2018, Assimilate 2019) return as Laurie’s daughter and granddaughter. Halloween Kills also features Will Patton (Armageddon 1998, The Mothman Prophecies 2002), Anthony Michael Hall (The Breakfast Club 1985, The Dark Knight 2008), and Thomas Mann (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 2015, Kong: Skull Island 2017) as some of Haddonfield’s more memorable residents.
Forty years after that fateful Halloween night in 1978, Michael Myers returns to his hometown only to fall into Laurie’s trap. Thinking him defeated once and for all, Laurie is rushed to the hospital following Michael’s harrowing attack. Of course, Michael’s reign of terror did not end in flames. Looking more menacing than ever with his iconic mask now partially charred, Michael makes victims of anyone in the path to his goal. This time, the town of Haddonfield rises to meet him, but is an entire town enough to stop the embodiment of evil?
With an entire town full of characters to keep track of, Halloween Kills gets a bit lost. Halloween thrived thanks to its laser-focus on the Strodes. Curtis and Greer still shine here, but the light is too often pulled from them in favor of other characters who cannot hold the weight the same. Too many threads never find a satisfying conclusion, but there are still plenty of other aspects for Halloween fans to enjoy.
For those who just want to see the iconic killer go on a rampage, there is more than enough to go around. Halloween Kills takes the expected violence to the next level, with some of the most gruesome final moments in recent memory. No one is safe when Michael’s in town. This time, his body count is off the charts, and there are few moments of relief from his inhuman strength. Some sequences are incredibly tense when allowed the time, but others are over before the audience has enough time to care.
As always, John Carpenter’s iconic score is incredible. Given a more modern twist with the help of Cody Carpenter and Daniel A. Davies, the score helps weave the story together when it starts to come apart. Director of Photography Michael Simmonds (Halloween 2018, White Girl 2016) keeps things equally fresh with frenetic cinematography that keeps in line with the film’s cynical themes.
If you have not seen 2018’s Halloween, be sure to check that out before sitting down for this bloody sequel or else you will find yourself pretty lost. It is equally as important to have seen the iconic 1978 original for the ultimate experience. Eagle-eyed fans will find plenty of callbacks and Easter eggs scattered about (there even seems to be an homage to The Fellowship of the Ring thrown in, too). The familiar backdrop of Haddonfield, looking just like you remembered, takes on a character all its own as its citizens come together under their mantra: “Evil dies tonight.”
Halloween 2018’s greatest success was its unique look into generational trauma, Halloween Kills casts a much wider net. This time, its focus is on fear and mob mentality, and the conclusion is a bleak, hopeless idea of humanity. True as it may be, this idea colors the story in something darker than the blood spilled by Michael. The triumphant heroics that made the first installment great are punished with ruthless efficiency. Coupled with the extreme, unflinching gore, Halloween Kills leaves a sour taste. Slashers often have a sense of whimsy and fun that keep audiences returning, but it is difficult to imagine wanting to go back to Haddonfield again if this is what waits behind its picket fences.
There is already a planned third installment entitled Halloween Ends in the works set for release in 2022. Though Halloween Kills tosses in plenty of ingredients that fans will enjoy, the final product is just too messy. Here’s hoping the saga will pull itself back from the ledge for a killer climax. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Halloween Kills 3 out of 5 stars.