Film Review – Halloween Kills (2021)

“Evil dies tonight!” shouts the angry, scared mob in Haddonfield when news that the ever-strengthening superhuman boogeyman that is Michael Myers wasn’t burnt to a crisp by Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) at the end of 2018’s sequel/reboot/rebirth. To Michael’s credit, his actions through the small, leafy town weren’t the worst crime committed by David Gordon Green and Danny McBride’s new vision. We’ve been waiting three years for someone to tell us just exactly why the new Halloween was called Halloween and not Halloween “something” and we have yet to have an answer. Maybe it is us being pedantic and maybe it doesn’t irk anyone else but naming the film the same as the original and being a sequel baffles us, even more so as our return trip is called Halloween Kills. Halloween Reborn, Halloween X, Halloween: Electric Boogaloo, there’s plenty of options. But we digress.

Anyhow, it is time for the long-awaited sequel to the sequel to the sequels as we return to the scene of the crime literally moments after its predecessor. Setting Michael alight in a basement should have done the trick but, wouldn’t you know it, it doesn’t and the boogeyman gets stronger and more violent than ever before as he makes a beeline for his old house. Laurie is somewhat paralysed after her recent run-in but seeing the escalating situation that feels far too familiar, the Haddonfield inhabitants decide to take matters into their own hands. Evil dies tonight.

With their initial refreshed vision for the series, which had overstayed its welcome with the dire sequels (Resurrection and The Curse of Michael Myers being chief culprits of “jumping the shark”, despite Paul Rudd’s early presence), Gordon Green and McBride had changed the game that many have sought to replicate since. Stripping back the series somewhat from the mindless slasher roots of those lacklustre follow-ups, they have shifted focus not just on Laurie but on mental health, trauma and pain passed down through the generations and the destructive nature of man, pummelling anything in its way that may or may not be a threat.

Relevant and piercing (much like Michael’s weapon of choice), it was a genuinely moving horror that was much more than the sum of its parts so it’s very surprising that after its huge success, its filmmakers would retreat in the middle part of their already announced trilogy back into the safe, well-worn surroundings of type. They try to layer in new themes that encompass much of the recent news and societal uprisings against systemic abuses and violence on all fronts and while much of that strikes quite an important and moving tone, it’s overpowered by an even more blood-thirsty effort that feels hugely excessive.

What part three will look like and what it will want to say about the world around us and the ever-increasing thirst for franchise expansion is anyone’s guess but here’s hoping it does a little more than just upping the stakes and the body count to please the masses as it doesn’t work this time around. Sure, there’s enough for horror fans to enjoy here and the sight of seeing Curtis in her signature role is always thrilling, but after the huge steps forward in the first (sixth?) film, Halloween Kills feels more quick cash-in than a worthy sequel.

★★


Horror | USA, 2021 | 104mins | 18| Dir. David Gordon Green | Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Anthony Michael Hall, Will Patton, Nick Castle