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Review: Halloween Kills (2021)

Halloween Kills (2021)

Directed by: David Gordon Green

Premise: A sequel to 2018’s Halloween. Picking up immediately where its predecessor left off, Michael Myers has survived the fire at the Strode house and continues killing. The citizens of Haddonfield are driven into a panic and begin hunting Michael.

What Works: Halloween Kills is a “five minutes later” style sequel and the filmmakers do a great job matching the earlier movie. The new film seamlessly appends onto its predecessor and the 2021 picture brings back characters who appeared in minor capacities in the 2018 film and build sequences around them. This gives the two pictures a unity that makes these films feel like part of a whole. Halloween Kills extends and expands the themes of the 2018 movie. The previous film was about Laurie Strode’s trauma and the way she transferred her neuroses to her family. Halloween Kills is about the trauma of a community and how the herd reacts to an attack.In that respect, the new film offers familiar kills and thrills but with a different context. The slasher films of the 1980s were dead teenager movies but Halloween Kills is a dead middle-aged people movie. The victims of classic slasher films embodied youth and vitality; the victims of Halloween Kills have history and that changes the meaning of the violence. This film goes to places that we haven’t seen much of in the slasher genre while working within its conventions.

What Doesn’t: Halloween Kills suffers from being baggy and overwrought. The pacing is stop and go. The film gets into a repetitive cycle, alternating scenes of slasher violence and mob agitation with expressions of grief. The trouble is that much of Halloween Kills does not feel as though it is escalating toward anything. The scenes of mob panic at the hospital are great but this comes to an early climax. This film doesn’t offer anything as satisfying as Laurie Strode’s showdown with Michael Myers in the previous film. In fact, Halloween Kills repeats the mistake of 1981’s Halloween II by keeping Laurie in a hospital bed for most of the film. Halloween Kills is packed with a lot of flashbacks, some of them unnecessary, and it is overflowing with homages and callbacks to the original film. The story is so interconnected that it comes across contrived. The filmmakers reach for something profound about humanity’s relationship to evil but never quite grasp it. Laurie Strode has some epiphanies about Michael’s evil but this remains vague. It is tagged onto the ending like an afterthought, presumably to set up the next film.

Bottom Line: Halloween Kills offers much of what viewers look for in a slasher movie and it tries to bring some different perspectives to the franchise and the genre. The film is pulled in too many different directions but it is admirably ambitious. It’s very likely that opinions on Halloween Kills will be clarified when Halloween Ends is released next year.

Episode: #875 (October 31, 2021)