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Film Review: ‘Halloween Kills’ is, For Better And Worse, a Horror Sequel

Michael Myers (aka The Shape) in Halloween Kills, directed by David Gordon Green
Universal

When David Gordon Green and Danny McBride unleashed Halloween on the world back in 2018, it was a surprise. After all, the property was dormant and seemingly used up. They found a way to distill the series down to only what works, which essentially was Michael Myers butchering people, Jamie Lee Curtis, and the classic John Carpenter score. By doing so, they made a nasty little delight, though not one initially set to continue the franchise. And yet, money talks, so here comes Halloween Kills, meant as the second part in a trilogy. Though it’s decidedly a step down from the last one, enough works here to warrant a recommendation.

Halloween Kills is essentially a 106 minute trailer for Halloween Ends, but that’s middle installment syndrome for you. If you wanted Michael to have hacked up more folks last time around, you’re in luck. Now, while this is mostly just mayhem, Green and McBride do try to bring up some new themes, in addition to the prior one of passing down trauma. Here, it’s mob mentality and fear elevating evil. They’re not always successful, but at least it aims to be more than just a throwaway sequel.

Michael Myers (aka The Shape) in Halloween Kills, directed by David Gordon Green

Picking up moments after Halloween finished, the story continues the night that Michael Myers (Airon Armstrong, Nick Castle, and James Jude Courtney at various points) returned home. Laurie Strode (Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) faced down The Shape and thought they’d torched him. Of course, evil doesn’t die that easily, and while they’re on the way to the hospital, firefighters show up to Laurie’s house to put out the blaze. They run into Michael and are instantly butchered. Thus begins and even bloodier night of carnage. All of this occurs while Laurie is recovering in the hospital alongside Officer Hawkins (Will Patton), convinced that her long nightmare is finally over. How wrong she is.

As Michael murders his way across Haddonfield, survivors from his first massacre, led by Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall), Lonnie Elam (Robert Longstreet), and Lindsey Wallace (Kyle Richards) organize a mob to hunt him down. When Laurie finds out that he’s still alive, she knows it’s not going to be that simple. The Strode women will have to face him down yet again, this time with even more danger at hand.

Universal

If there’s a major flaw here, it’s sidelining Jamie Lee Curtis for a significant portion of the movie. We’re here to see Laurie. This also reduces how effective Curtis can be. She’s fine, but was much better in Halloween. The same goes for Judy Greer, who mostly is worried, until springing into action during the third act. Andi Matichak gets to be a bit of a bad ass this time around, which is a nice change of pace. Anthony Michael Hall, Robert Longstreet, and Kyle Richards are all forgettable, mostly on hand to connect things to the past. Will Patton gets nothing to do, yet again. Other cast members here include returning (either from the last film or prior movies) plays like Dylan Arnold, Omar J. Dorsey, and Nancy Stephens, as well as newcomers Lenny Clarke, Jim Cummings, Thomas Mann, and more.

David Gordon Green, along with co-writers Danny McBride and Scott Teems, wants Halloween Kills to have a bit of depth and mythology to it. The former works better than the latter, though it’s still at its best when Green can just direct gore-filled chaos. Green, McBride, and Teems’ script mixes in elements of mob mentality and how dangerous that can be, but it’s largely surface level. Some of it works, some of it doesn’t. As for John Carpenter’s classic score, it’s given a bit of a new sound her by Carpenter himself, alongside Cody Carpenter and Daniel A. Davies.

Halloween Kills is a gory Michael Myers sequel through and through, offering up exactly what you’d expect from a new installment. Whether this works or not is entirely up to you. It’s not as good as Halloween, but it’s better than just about every prior sequel, so there’s that. If nothing else, we’re primed for Halloween Ends. The final showdown between Laurie and Michael is brewing, and flaws aside, it’s a fight we’re more than ready for.

SCORE: ★★★

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Written by Joey Magidson

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