Halloween Kills is a real step down for this franchise after having such a high point in its previous entry.
Halloweeen Kills (2021) Review By Mark McPherson
Published on October 22, 2021
Rating 2 /5
It’s a bit disappointing that the sequel to 2018’s Halloween doesn’t find all the much interesting to explore. The return to the killer rampage of Michael Meyers felt fresher for giving the character of Laurie Strode more of a lingering arc about trying to handle trauma when it comes bundled with PTSD, alcoholism, and a strained relationship with the family. That’s what made the new Halloween unique. Halloween Kills, however, has an element of questioning mob mentality that is given a rather hollow exploration.
The film takes place at the exact moment when the last film ended. Michael Meyers was trapped in the burning house of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) after a series of traps she set for him. What she didn’t plan on, however, was that the fire department wouldn’t let her place burn to the ground. Sure enough, the firefighters inadvertently save Michael and his Halloween rampage continues on into the night. It’s a strong start considering Michael’s opening slaughter of firefighters is incredibly brutal and intense.
Before this sequence, however, a new salvo of characters is set up. With the aid of some flashbacks to Meyer’s first big killer rampage of the suburbs in the 1970s. Much like Laurie, they are residents who have some history that haunts them. When they learn that Meyers is once more on the loose, they decide not to hide in fear but go on the offensive. The survivors band together to form a party that will put an end to the killer once and for all. What they’re not counting on, however, is that the past may have some inner demons they may not be prepared to face. There is also a mob mentality that needs to be addressed before the town turns into monsters just as vile as Michael.
So there’s another aspect of trauma present but it’s far less explored. The kills certainly seem to have been given more care than this more intriguing aspect. On a surface level, sure, the film succeeds in some quality displays of murder, blood, and guts. Michael performs a series of surprising violence by using everything from butcher knives to his bare hands. Heads are cut off and eyeballs are torn out of their sockets. Gruesome stuff from a killer who hasn’t lost his edge for dispensing cruel ends to the residence of suburbia.
There’s a real conflict of tone and messaging present in Halloween Kills. There’s a desire to be a campy thriller where the audience cackles and winces at the bloody displays on-screen, noted by such ridiculous kills as a misfiring gun. But then the film also wants to highlight how runaway revenge is a dark and dangerous road that won’t end well. BUT it also wants to stress that Michael Meyers is a force of evil that must be killed. BUT it also wants to highlight how observing mental illness as inherently dangerous is violent rhetoric. BUT, again, Michael Meyers is evil and needs to be killed somehow.
Throughout the film, there’s a constant contradiction. It wants to be funny but also says something. It wants to subvert the tired trope of the mentally ill being criminal but also wants to sell you on Meyers being a dangerous mental patient who deserves to die. It wants to showcase how violence is empty and doesn’t solve anything but also a delight when the town takes its revenge on Meyers in a brutal display of vengeance. Did I mention Michael Meyers is evil? Don’t worry, the film will constantly reiterate this point if you miss it the first dozen times.
Halloween Kills is a real step down for this franchise after having such a high point in its previous entry. It’s clear that this picture is meant to be a bridge film to pump up the hype for a trilogy closer to Halloween Ends. The sad thing is that there’s not much present in this sequel that wasn’t already explored in the last film. There’s ambition in this series for sure but it’s hardly given the most appealing of explorations beyond just some more kills which, really, any slasher can deliver.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.