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It has been some time since a slasher sequel has had such expectation stalking it. But after David Gordon Green’s 2018 Halloween revitalised the franchise, Halloween Kills marks the next step in Green and fellow screenwriters Danny McBride and Scott Teems’ follow-up trilogy to the John Carpenter landmark. Premiering at this year’s Venice Film Festival, the film would receive very polarising responses, a matter that remained when it was released in cinemas and streamed on Peacock simultaneously. However, were these (admittedly rather asinine) criticisms of “Empty anarchy”, “a middle movie”, “too much like a Halloween sequel” on point? Well, as we approach the home video release of the Extended cut in January, we can tell you…no they weren’t.
The story stays in 2018, and shortly follows the events whereby masked killer Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle) was caught by Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her family in a fiery trap. Believed dead, the Strode family attempt to comprehend the trauma of the night in its immediate aftermath. However, the bogeyman is alive and the spree is about to continue, but in a panic-stricken Haddonfield, victims old and new unite and vow that “Evil Dies Tonight”.
From its pre-titles opening (one of the series’ best ever) to the gut-punching finale, Halloween Kills is a film certain to (and has) provoke strong responses. Far more than just hollow fan service, Green’s follow-up crafts a thrilling prelude to the final chapter to come in 2022, while taking the franchise lore to some uncomfortable places first. Perhaps this explains some people’s extreme takes, because after the last film tackled the strength that can come from survival, as well as the soul morphing nature of trauma, this film shows how evil is not a monster, it’s very human, and staring you back in the mirror every day daring you to acknowledge it.
Halloween Kills is a violent, thrilling and ambitious film that daringly separates its two franchise foes, in favour of showing how fear is the most dangerous disease of all, and that the boogeyman can only thrive in an environment as toxic as ours. There’s a reason Michael has never been this powerful, he is the face of such fear, but unluckily for him, Laurie and names from franchise past are prepared for a far different fight with The Shape.
Halloween Kills is an intriguing, already under-appreciated film, that takes on a lot, beneath its impressively brutal kill count (a level of violence saved for only select films nowadays). I loved its links, its ideas and its quite rightly alarming (even more when considering how on point they are in our times) messages.
In The Mandalorian does Boba Fett fashion, Michael Myers has well and truly been unleashed here, ahead of his (final?) showdown next year with Jamie Lee Curtis’ equally iconic warrior. And as a result, this film largely sees legacy characters revived for battle with their past demon and new series characters in the midst of facing their current fears. It all amounts to a film that is mostly well performed (even if some of the meatiness of the franchise’s core rivalry obviously has to take a backseat) and compelling.
The story and direction relishes playing with this unkillable screen boogeyman, while also taking the stakes to such extent that anything is indeed possible. Some returning characters and cast get a better bite than others but the moral panic-filled Haddonfield yields moments that are not only vicious or surprising but at points quite emotional. Be it in the old school resurrecting magic of some 1978 throwback sequences, the fleshed out story and relationship of Laurie and Will Patton’s Deputy Hawkins, or a moment that shows the cruelty and horrifying power that results from modern society’s obsession with false narratives.
Even aesthetically, this film delivers. Michael Simmonds‘ cinematography is excellent and exciting (see a final fight sequence), and made even more so when matched with a soundtrack, from John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies, that – pardon the pun – kills! This film’s twist on the Halloween Theme in particular is absolutely outstanding.
Michael has never been badder, bloodier or more more brutal, and has never had so much going on behind the black eyeholes of his iconic mask. Halloween Kills is an absolute treat, that left me anticipating Halloween Ends intently, but also left me eager to revisit this one all over again. That Extended Cut ought to be a belter!