The 2018 legacy sequel Halloween was a great decades-later continuation of the story that began in 1978’s Halloween. The follow-up Halloween Kills tries a few different plot twists to mixed results. Keeping the main characters apart the entire time is an unsatisfying decision considering how great the cathartic final confrontation was between Michael Myers and Laurie in Halloween ’18. Still the kills in Kills are nicely messy and there’s a thematic bit in Kills that groups of people descend into idiotic mob violence which seems particularly relevant today. Overall, this feels like a middle installment of a trilogy but instead of upping the stakes, it feels like it’s running in place.
Forty years later after the initial killing spree, Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney) returned to the town of Haddonfield until he was stopped by Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and her granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak). Left to burn in Laurie’s home, he is unwillingly rescued by firefighters. Michael promptly kills the firefighters and continues slashing through Halloween night. With a local officer, Hawkins (Will Patton) in hospital and Laurie being treated, no one is around to stop Myers. Taking up the cause is Tommy (Anthony Michael Hall) who rounds up a posse of angry folks, shouting repeatedly “Evil dies tonight”. But Michael Myers is determined to stalk and kill his way across town and no one can stop him.
The 2018 Halloween skipped over all the previous installments, most critically Halloween II with the reveal that Laurie is Michael Myers’ sister. The fact they are related was a huge aspect to the series. Strangely, Halloween Kills does follow Halloween II in a very key way where it’s a sequel set immediately afterwards the last film. Therefore, Laurie is recovering from their last encounter. Which, unfortunately, means that main star Curtis is literally sleep acting most of the film.
Curtis’ Laurie had a fiery anger in the last film but by separating the two she has nothing to do but stew. When she tries to be proactive, she pops some stitches and ends up back in a hospital bed. Sidelining her here is baffling as it builds towards a confrontation that never comes. Maybe they’ll face off again in a sequel but the lack of brawling is unsatisfying here. Even the film tries to twist around a central conceit of the Halloween franchise ever since Halloween II; that Michael is obsessed with Laurie. This makes her just someone who got in Michael’s way and all the hollering by her daughter Karen that Michael will come for Laurie is meaningless. Even Officer Hawkins is wounded the entire movie, although there is a very cool flashback to the events of 1978 that shows how Michael was captured. As this movie erased Halloween II, it fills a gap in the story.
At least the Michael Myers scenes are great. Director David Gordon Green knows how to stage a scene where Michael’s unstoppable presence is palpable. The physicality Courtney brings to the role is nicely intense as Michael moves with single minded determination towards his target. Even little tilts of the mask speak volumes about how he feels. The kills are all very brutal, probably some of the messiest in the series, with Michael taking people out with knives, fluorescent lights, or smashing them into walls repeatedly. One of the darker, funnier kills is when someone comes running at him with a handgun and he kicks a car door which causes them to shoot themselves in the head.
The townsfolk being completely inept at stopping this slowly moving man is basically a joke and also shows how incompetent and stupid mob justice is. Hall’s character shows that leaders of mobs tend to have one shouty catchphrase. As things spin wildly out of control, with at one point the mob following the wrong person, Hall shows underneath it all this guy is a wimp. Matichak’s Allyson is overcome with rage at Myers and she won’t listen to her mom and grandma. Single minded determination seems to run in the family.
The mob calling for Myers’ head comes to a head in a climax where Michael faces down an entire horde of angry folks. It is very disappointing Laurie isn’t there but it’s an interesting showdown as Michael Myers seems to finally be overwhelmed but he starts fighting back. There is nice intercutting with Laurie saying that Michael is trying to “transcend” with every kill, bringing in a notion he might actually be a supernatural creature. Considering the amount of damage he takes that would kill a mortal man, that is not impossible. Greer spends most of the movie angrily shouting that Meyers is coming but she does get up close and personal with him at the finale, and her final moments are riveting.
Halloween Kills isn’t trying to just do the same movie again, although it may have swerved a bit too far left by keeping the leads away from each other. Therefore a lot of the film hangs upon how much the audience would care for the other characters. The answer isn’t much since Myers is strangely more sympathetic than the angry mob of hollering morons. At least Myers strives to achieve his goals and literally executes his job with bloody flair.
Director: David Gordon Green
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Thomas Mann, Anthony Michael Hall and Kyle Richards