It’s been nearly three years since Halloween (2018) arrived in theaters, and even though the pandemic delayed the return of Michael Myers in Halloween Kills, the wait proved to be worth it, as co-writer/director David Gordon Green amps up the violence for this second installment in this new trilogy that not only does an excellent job of tipping its hat to the legacy of John Carpenter’s original Halloween, but also charts some new thematic territory here. I do have some minor quibbles with Halloween Kills (more on that later), but by and large, Gordon’s sequel is a thrilling follow-up to its predecessor that features the best Michael Myers performance since the original film to boot.
Picking up directly where Halloween (2018) left off, Halloween Kills follows Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) after they narrowly escape the clutches of Michael Myers (played by both James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle), leaving him to burn in the basement of Laurie’s compound. And as they make their way back into Haddonfield proper to receive medical care, they cross paths with several firetrucks that are undoubtedly headed to Laurie’s house to put out the raging inferno, setting up the means for The Shape’s eventual escape. In the meantime, word begins to spread around Haddonfield that Myers has returned, causing a grown-up Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) and other original 1978 survivors (including Kyle Richards’ Lindsey Wallace) to round up as many residents of the town to hunt Michael down and put an end to him once and for all—as if it would be that simple. This is the personification of evil we’re talking about here, and Myers isn’t about to let a little “private justice” get in the way of his killing spree on Halloween night.
When it comes to the plot of Halloween Kills, that’s about it, folks, which is one of my minor issues with the sequel. It’s great to have everyone back again for more murder and mayhem, but when it comes to the film’s script, it doesn’t do a whole lot to move the overall story forward at all, as it feels like most of the purpose of Halloween Kills is to tide us over until Green wraps everything up in his saga with the forthcoming Halloween Ends. That’s not to say that there’s not plenty to enjoy here—that’s not it at all. Halloween Kills features some fantastic set pieces, copious amounts of carnage, and its seasonal vibes totally put me in the Halloween spirit, so I really had fun with the sequel. But if you’re looking for a narrative with a little meat on its bones, I think Halloween (2018) had a lot more going on in that department than its sequel.
One interesting choice that Green and his fellow co-writers Danny McBride and Scott Teems make with Halloween Kills is that they shift the primary focus of the film away from Laurie Strode, instead spending most of its time with various residents of Haddonfield as well as with both Allyson and Karen, as everyone deals with the aftermath of the first film. Some fans aren’t going to be happy about that, because Curtis’ onscreen presence has always been consistently enthralling. But considering the circumstances, it makes sense for Halloween Kills to take this direction.
So, what circumstances are those exactly? Well, back when Halloween (2018) was first released, I had written a piece (you can read it HERE) about how Laurie Strode was fixated on Michael, but them crossing paths in that movie wasn’t fate intervening at all, and that really, none of this was ever about her. Laurie had spent 40 years believing it was, and has spent decades desperate for closure, but in Michael’s mind, she barely registers with him at all. So, I thought it was interesting that Halloween Kills ends up acknowledging that fact in some pretty major ways, which sort of resets the playing field in the sequel. In fact, I’d even bet that when Michael crosses paths with Tommy, Lindsey, and other survivors that are featured here, the connection they feel to him doesn’t even register at all—Myers is just looking to kill anything and everything in his path and shows little regard for the humanity of any of his victims.
Which brings us to the sequel’s kills. Holy moly. With a title like Halloween Kills, you really have to deliver on the second part of that title, and Green definitely does that and then some. In fact, I haven’t done any specific math or anything like that, but Halloween Kills feels like it might be the most brutal Halloween film to date, rivaling anything we saw in both of the Rob Zombie films (which is not a slight to Zombie’s efforts, either—personally, his approach worked for me, even if his films aren’t “perfect” cinematic endeavors). But Michael feels wholly unleashed in Halloween Kills, and we spend a good amount of time following him throughout Haddonfield as he lays waste to numerous victims. Michael delivers up a ton of gnarly deaths in the sequel, too, with one of my favorites involving a light tube that would no doubt put a smile on the face of the Death Match God himself, GCW wrestler Nick Gage. So, if you’re coming into this looking for maximum carnage, Halloween Kills should undoubtedly thrill all the gorehounds out there.
The performances in Halloween Kills are all strong, albeit the film does underplay Curtis’ talents quite a bit (I do find it a bit ironic that we get another Halloween sequel where Laurie Strode spends a lion’s share of the film’s running time in Haddonfield Memorial Hospital yet again). But both Greer and Matichak are given quite a bit to do here, which was fun to see, and I also enjoyed that Halloween Kills helps redeem the character of Cameron a bit, too (Allyson’s shitty boyfriend in the previous film), and Dylan Arnold’s performance is a bright spot in the sequel. Robert Longstreet plays his dad Lonnie here (who fans will remember from the OG Halloween), and a real treat for me was when Jim Cummings popped up in a flashback scene that takes us back to that fateful night in 1978. And speaking of those flashback scenes, I’m not sure I totally love the recontextualization of some of the events from Halloween (1978), but there are several sequences in there that made me audibly gasp as a fan of the series by what Gordon is able to pull off on a technical level (I’m leaving that vague so that you can experience them as I did).
While I don’t think it quite hits the same highs that its predecessor did, Halloween Kills is still a pretty damn entertaining follow-up effort from all involved, and as a fan, it was just so nice to get more Michael Myers to enjoy this Halloween season. While I do wish this sequel had pushed this saga forward more from a storytelling standpoint, Gordon gets far more right than wrong in Halloween Kills and even finds a few ways to give fans several shockingly visceral moments that undoubtedly will become touchstones in the Halloween franchise. And if nothing else, it has me even more amped for everything that’s sure to come in Halloween Ends down the line.
Movie Score: 3.5/5