Movie Review: Halloween Kills

While writer Danny McBride and writer / director David Gordon Green allegedly had plans for a follow-up in mind when they set about making the 2018 Halloween reboot / sequel, they opted instead to focus solely on the one film to wait and see how it did first. $255 million and 3 years later, here we are with Halloween Kills. The previous film retconned everything that followed the classic 1978 Halloween, choosing to instead function as a direct predecessor to that movie (which was probably a good idea considering how convoluted the franchise had become) and showed us Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) as a woman paralyzed by her fear of the return of Michael Myers. [SPOILER ALERT] Unsurprisingly those fears were warranted, as he escaped from a transport bus, went on a killing spree through his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, and left Laurie, her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) riding away from a burning house they believed they had trapped him in. 

Seeing as we are are back for another go around, their assumption about his demise is quickly proven to be incorrect, as he stages a very bloody escape and heads back out to wreak more mayhem. The Strodes arrive at the local hospital so Laurie can receive treatment for her wounds where they are placed into a shared room with Officer Hawkins (Will Patton), also grievously injured in the last installment. Meanwhile in town, Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) and some other survivors of the 1978 massacre gather for their annual Halloween reunion in a local bar during talent night. While there, the news of Michael’s escapades begins reaching the revelers and Tommy rallies the crowd to go after the masked killer themselves.

As is often the case with sequels, the filmmakers have opted to give us more of what they think we want, significantly upping the body count and serving up ever more extreme displays of gore. The use of humor to help humanize each subsequent victim is particularly effective, making the multitude of kills more suspenseful and impactful. That being said, the plot somehow manages to feel both thin and overstuffed at the same time, and while these kinds of movies often feature characters making choices that could at best be described as questionable, it feels particularly pronounced here. A charitable explanation could be that the filmmakers are trying to comment on how prone people are towards making terrible decisions and falling victim to easy explanations and mob mentality in the face of fear, especially during one of the movie’s more impactful sequences in the hospital. But given that it was filmed way back in 2019, before we saw just how much that could play out in real life, that’s likely more of a lucky coincidence than anything intentional. Still, it’s hardly the worst of the franchise, packs a few good scares, and moves by swiftly enough. The ending goes in a somewhat baffling direction, but it does leave one wondering where they will take that. ★★★

Available in theaters and on Peacock.

Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, grisly images, language, and some drug use.

★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor

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