When 2018’s Halloween was released, director David Gordon Green gave fans of the series a fresh pair of eyes, doing away with the familial twist that had previously backed the slasher franchise into a proverbial wall. Instead, the film dealt with a Laurie Strode (a returning Jamie Lee Curtis) that had spent the 40-years since her attack losing her relationships, her sobriety and trying to overcome decades of pain and hurt. Instead of running away from a returning Michael Myers, 2018’s Strode ran towards her pain and following a showdown of sorts, Myers was trapped inside of a flaming bunker basement, seemingly meeting his end.
Green has now returned with Halloween Kills, a sequel that not only takes what was setup in 2018’s film, but spikes it with fervor. A relentless, brutally violent film. Yet, Halloween Kills is easily the most emotionally resonant film in the entire franchise. This installment sees Myers (James Jude Courtney) escaping the fire and heading to Haddonfield for more carnage. What we then receive is an onslaught of anger and vengeance and a look at the dangers of leading with revenge in your heart.
What Halloween Kills does so perfectly, is shows how good people can be lead to do things that impact the well being and safety of others. Taking a cue from both 1981’s Halloween II and 1988’s Halloween 4, Kills takes the collective pain the town of Haddonfield has lived with, for decades, and when news breaks that Laurie is in the hospital and Myers has returned, the residents rally to get their own revenge, vowing to destroy The Shape, once and for all.
While having an entire mob going after an antagonist can seem like a positive thing, what happens leans heavily into tragic territory, with the large collective group looking for anyone they could conveniently assume is Myers and go after. Chaos ensues, which helps Myers in his terror-filled antics more than hinders.
Laurie, in Haddonfield Memorial Hospital for her injuries, is left to consider what her obsession might have caused, a sentiment that is further explored with the regret and grief of Hawkins (Will Patton), who has survived the attack in 2018’s film. Told in a series of spectacular flashbacks to the night of the 1978 attacks, we’re shown what happened after Loomis fired six rounds into The Shape and the pain of knowing he could have stopped Myers but didn’t out of fear. How precisely in line with Carpenter’s original film the flashbacks are, is enthralling, it left this critic speechless. Green knows the original film well, and the script by the director, along with Danny McBride and Scott Teems speaks volumes on just that: Halloween Kills is, like 2018’s film, successful at taking what made the original so wonderful and shining a light on the suffering and trauma caused by the events of the original film.
Returning to help in the quest to stop Myers, is Tommy Doyle (now played by Anthony Michael Hall), Lindsey Wallace (Kyle Richards), Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens), Leigh Brackett (Charles Cyphers) and surprisingly, Lonnie Elam (a GREAT Robert Longstreet), a former childhood bully of Tommy’s, who has, since a 1978 flashback encounter with Myers as a kid turned his ways around, wanting to help. Part of the charm of the film lies in how it takes characters we typically think are good or bad and shows the gray areas between, with Lonnie serving as the kind person who just wants to help and Tommy almost being responsible for leading groups to their slaughter, as he is hellbent on rectifying the pain Myers caused decades before. Cameron (Dylan Arnold), who we previously hated after throwing cell phones not queso in the previous film is another example of just that. Through the course of HK, we’re given a transformative arc that not only redeems the young man, but leads to some of the most heartbreaking sequences in the series.
While Laurie is in a hospital bed for most of the film, returning characters Karen and Allyson (Judi Greer and Andi Matichak) are front and center in Halloween Kills, with Karen not only wanting to go after Myers, but also serving as a voice of reason for the angry mob. Karen sees that her mother was right and the regret she has for holding a grudge for so long leads to a quest to prove herself, something that as Kills perfectly shows, can lead to the suffering of many others, a recurring theme that plays out as Karen, Allyson and Cameron all venomously search for The Shape.
When a film plays it safe, it shows and Halloween Kills does anything but that. Characters are set up and killed like bowling pins, the body count leans deeply into double digits, and when Myers strikes, the violence and anger that shows is something to behold. Each death feels harder and harder to watch than the previous. Halloween Kills isn’t afraid to take bold swings and there are quite a few deaths that viewers simply will not see coming, but that’s part of what makes the flick work so well: It’s about loss and how we as people lead with emotion and pain, causing our own personal hells to get the best of us and hot damn, does Myers do that in Kills. The baiting and almost prank-heavy Myers of Carpenter’s original film is back and better than ever in this one, setting up his kills with precision and it feels almost as if the 6-year old boy who killed his sister at the beginning of 1978’s film is still inside of Myers. He’s playful with what he does and there is no method to what he is doing. The need for explanations aren’t important to Green in 2018’s film. And in Kills, we’re not given much more about why Myers does what he does, because well…we don’t need to. Knowing less is more terrifying and readers, Halloween Kills is without a doubt, the scariest Halloween since the original, standing confidently alongside the best sequels in the series.
Truly an Empire Strikes Back of the trilogy, Halloween Kills sets up an epic showdown, something that with how chaotically terrifying Kills is, will be something for the books. The Shape is alive in well, readers and by god, this film is spectacular.