Mike’s Review: Halloween Kills (2021)

★★★★ out of ★★★★★
Directed by David Gordon Green.

As demonic crooner Ronnie James Dio once famously opined “…when you listen to fools, the mob rules.”  Maybe this prescient piece of advice was being plied to the January 6 insurrection, maybe it was being plied to Halloween Kills, but just maybe Dio’s magical ways were sorting out many future truths. 

No matter your thoughts on Halloween Kills, at its core, this is a revenge film.  And in case you haven’t heard, it’s not Michael Myers seeking some other-worldly revenge on the Strode family, it’s the upright citizens of Haddonfield who are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore. 

ATMOSfx! Woo!

Director David Gordon Green uses a somewhat clever throwback device that explains both what happened on that fateful night in 1978, while at the same time explaining Laurie Strode’s (Jamie Lee Curtis) connection to Officer Hawkins (Will Patton) and the entire interconnected socio-political structure of Haddonfield that lay at the feet of the kids and teens who originally felt Michael’s evil. 

In much the same way that Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens was a Star Wars greatest hits film, Halloween Kills serves in that same role. The plot is a rather thin connective tissue between 2018’s Halloween, and 2022’s forthcoming finale. Instead of Chewbaccas and R2D2s David Gordon Green gives us Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall), Officer Brackett (Charles Cyphers), and Tommy’s next door neighbor Lindsey (Kyle Richards). If you really pay close attention there’s even a PJ Soles sighting. For those that have enjoyed roiling in the Halloween universe these well-placed characters will surely bring a smile to their defective brains. 

The scares in Halloween are rather unique for a big budget Hollywood release because they are founded in horrible and brutal violence. You don’t get the fear and dread from demonic ennui of the Exorcist, or the oft-repeated look right-look left jump scare trope throughout the Conjuring films. What the audience is treated to is extreme violence. On the same scale as Maniac or Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer, Michael Myers is RE-lentless, constant, and historic.  By some counts, Michael Myers slashes his way through upwards of 30 — yes, you’re reading that right — 30 people.  Setting a far higher kill count that anything Freddy, Jason, or Leatherface has conjured up in the modern era. 

The doom, dread, and frights brought to the screen by this killfest are impressive, but unfortunately, this splatter-fest is undone by a clumsy and unnecessarily complicated script. By effectively creating a Haddonfield High School reunion David Gordon Green is forced to follow too many stories with too little connection to the overarching Michael Myers mythos. While it’s fun to know what became of Lindsey it’s also a meaningless addition that doesn’t entirely advance this story. 

The most interesting element of the story is the prescient allegory to mob mentality and how quickly society can come careening off the rails. A push here and a stab there and the town’s collective ire is up. For 43-ish years Haddonfield has been pushed around by the boogie man and they’re out for blood. The fear, anxiety, and misplaced pressures of the boogie man produce a fascinating response not unlike the pitchforks (…and there are pitchforks) and torches of 1931’s Frankenstein. Difference being Frankenstein is entirely sympathetic, whereas Michael Myers is evil wrapped in evil with a side of evil. 

If you’re looking for logical character moves, thoughtful approaches to community involvement, and strategic thinking in combatting serial killers, then look elsewhere. Much like Halloween Kills is a greatest hits film, it’s also film packed with every single clumsy and ill timed victim trope out there. 

Halloween Kills is stupid decision making on display.  While this may be its curse, it’s also its gift. If 120+ years of horror films have tough us anything, it’s clear that the angry mob doesn’t care about your feelings, they’re not going to take part in rational decision making, but they are going to K-l-L-L. 

Halloween Kills is Rated R — a very hard R.

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