Even though this review won’t be as in-depth as my usual review-caps, there are still MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD for Halloween Kills. Consider yourself warned.
Happy Halloween, everyone! I hope you’re ready for more murder and mayhem because Michael Myers is back yet again. This latest installment in the new Halloween (2018) saga picks up right where the last flick left off. So to quickly recap, the latest Halloween re-introduced us to one of the original final girls, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), who’s now a mother and grandmother to daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak).
Over the decades since Laurie survived Michael Myers’ killing spree in 1978, she’s become somewhat of a hermit and a survivalist, isolating herself on a compound where she trained herself (and Karen) to be ready for Michael’s inevitable return. Laurie’s obsession with Michael estranged her from her family – but by the end of the flick, all three generations of the Strode family work together to lure Michael (James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle) into a fiery trap.
So, as Halloween Kills begins, the Strodes are riding away from the scene – but they see fire crews racing in the other direction, prompting Laurie to scream at them to “let it burn!” Then we see Allyson’s cheating boyfriend Cameron (Dylan Arnold) walking home from the school dance when he finds a bloody Deputy Frank Hawkins (Will Patton) lying in the road.
In the last flick, Hawkins was attacked by Michael’s doctor, who was determined to let Michael loose to go after Laurie. As Hawkins lays there bleeding all over the place, he flashes back to 1978 when he was a young rookie (Thomas Mann). It’s unclear as to exactly when this is supposed to be happening in the original, but Hawkins and his partner Pete (Jim Cummings) find Michael in his old house. Michael takes Pete hostage and unfortunately, when Hawkins tries to shoot Michael, he hits Pete instead, who dies.
Meanwhile, the good people of Haddonfield are all dressed up in their Halloween best, enjoying an open-mic night at the local bar. One of the other original survivors from 1978, Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall), gets up and reminds everyone how the entire town’s been haunted by Michael Myers – and how they need to remember the victims. Also in the bar happen to be fellow survivors Nurse Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens) and Lindsey Wallace (Kyle Richards).
As everyone applauds Tommy’s impressive speech, everyone’s phones start going off with notifications. News reports are coming out about the latest murders, and everyone just knows – it’s gotta be Michael. So Tommy rallies everyone in the bar to aid him in going after Michael, coming up with the catchy slogan, “Evil dies tonight!”
Meanwhile, while Laurie’s going through surgery to patch up her wounds, fire crews are putting out the blaze at her house. Unfortunately for them, Michael’s still alive (of course), and he makes quick, brutal work of every firefighter. When the new sheriff (Omar Dorsey) arrives at the horrific scene, he realizes they’re still not done hunting Michael down.
And from this point, things get kind of chaotic and all over the place. Tommy assigns people to start driving around different parts of town to try and locate Michael. And then Tommy and the rest of the lynch mob also end up at the hospital, where he manages to inspire even more people (including Charles Cyphers, who played the Sheriff in the original Halloween) to join his horde with the “evil dies tonight” chant.
Laurie’s daughter Karen ends up having to step up, not only trying to reign Tommy in but also trying to keep Allyson from going out with the rest of the mob. She pretty much fails on both counts. And what’s Laurie doing while all this is going on? Well, not much. In a rare switch to something sort of reality-based, Laurie can’t leave the hospital because she’s just had surgery and when she does try to escape (by bravely stabbing herself with a syringe of pain meds), she nearly rips open her wounds.
So Laurie’s benched, along with Hawkins. And while everybody else is out hunting Michael, she and Hawkins spend the rest of the flick in their adjoining beds, ruminating on Michael and the nature of evil and stuff like that. Out of this conversation comes the offering from the writers that the reason Michael can’t die is that with every kill, he “transcends.” Umm…okay. Considering how ridiculous the whole series is, I suppose that’s as good an explanation as any. But it doesn’t offer anything in the way of a solution to the Michael problem.
Tommy and the lynch mob finally manage to corner Michael, and they get their sweet, brutal revenge. Everyone takes turns using whatever weapons they could get their hands on, wailing on Michael with bats, shooting him with guns and stabbing him with knives. And he goes down – but not for long. The good (if pretty dumb) people of Haddonfield don’t seem to remember the whole unkillable thing, and they all become victims when Michael respawns and kills them all, including Tommy.
So of course, it’s up to the remaining Strodes to take care of business. Allyson and Cameron try their best, but Michael murders Cameron in a long, torturous way right in front of an injured Allyson, who Michael’s pushed down the stairs. But just as Michael’s about to kill Allyson with that classic rusty, bloody knife, Karen saves the day by stabbing Michael in the back with a pitchfork. She even curb-stomps him into the staircase, and he’s down. Again.
As the cops finally arrive and take care of Allyson, Karen wanders upstairs to the infamous bedroom where six-year-old Michael killed his sister back in 1963. She stares out the window, seeing her reflection – and then, bam! Michael’s respawned again and shows up behind her. And in the biggest, truest shock in the whole flick, he kills her. That’s it. The end – until next year.
So, here’s the thing — if you love the Halloween flicks, Halloween Kills is full of excellent fan service. Bringing together every surviving member of the original flick’s cast is an inspired idea, and they all do pretty well. They even went the extra mile of creating a terrific lookalike for Donald Pleasance’s Dr. Loomis (Tom Jones, Jr.). And, of course, the kill count in this flick is way beyond any of the other films by far. So if that’s all you’re looking for, then Halloween Kills delivers.
Unfortunately, if you’re looking for story and character development – which the last flick surprisingly delivered on – you’re not going to find it here. There’s an obvious message about the danger of mob mentality, and the fact that the mob ends up being as brutal and bloodthirsty as Michael is an interesting and ironic theme. But it’s a little heavy-handed, especially when the mob turns their anger on the wrong person. And it seems like the Strodes are the only ones smart enough to see clearly.
But all of that gets lost anyway, in the flick’s primary mission to just rack up kill after kill after kill. And worst of all is the lack of Jamie Lee Curtis’ fierce, anchoring performance as Laurie. Curtis made the last flick worth watching, and her absence this time around really hurts the whole thing.
So overall, Halloween Kills feels largely empty – a placeholder, just wasting time until next year’s final (?) installment. I really hope that Halloween Ends has a solid plan in place for finally resolving the story and resolving the issue of whether or not Michael can ever be defeated. That’s what I want to see, not just another pointless killing spree. Oh, yeah – and if it could actually be scary, that’d be good too.
Directed by: David Gordon Green
Release Date: Oct. 15, 2021 (theatrical and streaming on Peacock)
Run Time: 1 hr 45 min
Distributor: Universal Pictures
This review was originally published on 10/20/21.