'Halloween Kills' Murders its Legacy
We review the new Michael Myers slasher and lament the loss of Laurie Strode's dominance.
Where you fall on the 2018 reboot will probably determine how much you like or dislike Halloween Kills. That film erased the sequels from the timeline, exposing Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) as a tormented, broken human being. The tragic events of Halloween night 1978 scarred her psyche and poisoned her family through two generations. David Gordon Green's first stab at the franchise struggled to balance Strode's reclaiming of power with satisfying the audience's bloodlust. Which aspect you preferred steers your enthusiasm in its follow-up.
Halloween Kills is not at all worried about Laurie Strode. After coming face-to-face, or knife-to-gut, with Michael Myers in the previous climax, Strode is sidelined for much of this film. For the first half of the movie, she's unconscious. For the back half of the movie, she's screaming vengeance but watches others go get it.
Green is most eager to deliver on that second word in the title. Michael Myers pulls himself from Laurie Strode's burning basement and immediately lunges upon the fleshy fools who wander into his path. We get crowbars to eye sockets, halogen tubes to necks, and so many knives to so many stomachs. Halloween Kills revels in its violence, nothing new for the franchise but somewhat in conflict with the previous film's muddled messaging.
The thrills of John Carpenter's original left deep cuts in babysitter Strode. She watched her friends fall viciously, and her only victory was her survival and the survival of the two children under her care. This endurance comes at a cost, nightmares that never depart, seeping from her person and digging into every relationship that came after.
What we witness in Halloween Kills is the birth of twenty or more Laurie Strodes. With every violent encounter, we can imagine trauma spreading into countless other families. But whereas the reboot wanted to have an uncomfortable (and awkward) conversation about victimhood, Halloween Kills can not be bothered. It's here for blood and rage.
The good folks of Haddonfield refuse to sit idly by while law enforcement fails to protect them. The two children Strode saved, Tommy (Anthony Michael Hall) and Lindsey (Kyle Richards), form a posse. Over and over again, they chant, "Evil dies tonight!" And with their boiling blood comes confusion and violence of another order.
Unable to see beyond their fear, the sheep tear through their community looking for the wolf, but Green can't seem to decide if they're heroes or villains. In one scene, they're wreaking havoc and shedding accidental blood, and the next moment they arrive in the nick of time, hoping to score fist-pumps from the audience.
Michael Myers is evil personified. He's not some troubled kid who snapped one day and killed his sister. There's something other inside him. He is, once again, The Shape, the unkillable monster who stalked the sequels we're no longer allowed to talk about.
For there to be a third film (Halloween Ends, comin' at us 2022), the bogeyman must stay the bogeyman. This film has to take Myers to supernatural heights, but with that impossible incline, a nihilism sets in. The 2018 Halloween pretended that Laurie Strode was the franchise star, but that was a delusion.
Laurie Strode's victories in 1978 and 2018 were fleeting. Her rescued children and the other returning legacy characters are nothing more than meat. Seeing them treated as such is beyond disappointing; it's aggravating. Halloween Kills proves that it's no better than the sequels it ignores, celebrating Michael Myers' brutality and reducing the people around him to nothing more than goopy special effects.
Quickie Review: Halloween Kills is a gorehound's delight. If that's where your heart rests, you will be satiated. If you came here looking for Laurie Strode and her daughters to kick ass, then turn away. After all, Jamie Lee Curtis can only be in so many of these films, whereas any stuntman can wear Michael Myers' face. As the only component required for a Halloween, The Shape remains the star. That should have been obvious, and I'm a dunce for letting the reboot trick me into thinking otherwise. 6/10