Halloween Kills Synopsis: The nightmare isn’t over as unstoppable killer Michael Myers escapes from Laurie Strode’s trap to continue his ritual bloodbath. Injured and taken to the hospital, Laurie fights through the pain as she inspires residents of Haddonfield, Ill., to rise against Myers. Taking matters into their own hands, the Strode women and other survivors form a vigilante mob to hunt down Michael and end his reign of terror once and for all.
Michael Myer’s ominous presence has haunted generations of horror audiences with the Halloween series. From John Carpenter’s innovative debut film to Rob Zombie’s experimental verve in the 2007 reboot – the character’s daunting figure seamlessly translates between different stylistic approaches. The 2018 reboot contributed two unique voices to the franchise, with comedic stalwarts Danny McBride and David Gordon Green conjuring the slasher’s frightful presence through a more character-driven approach.
The results, while somewhat timid compared to its bloodsoaked predecessors, skillfully revitalized the Halloween brand for modern audiences. After a monstrous box office run, Gordon Green and McBride have returned with Halloween Kills. Their second horror feature soaks in the slasher genre’s campy allure while struggling to find its dramatic voice.
Kills has been killed by critics for serving diminishing results. While there are certainly stumbles, Gordon Green’s shameless homage to 80’s slashers feels more assured in its murderous pursuits. A foggy flashback tinted with grainy aesthetics sets the tone for a film that refreshingly leans into the genre’s strengths. The director and Cinematographer Michael Simmonds up the ante with bone-crushing murders and queasy bursts of bloodshed, finding ways to unnerve audiences in ways the 2018 original could never quite pull off. It’s all tied together brilliantly through John Carpenter’s hypnotic synth score. The horror mastermind knows just the right notes to accent each ominous encounter.
Similar to its predecessor, Kills tries to provide a semblance of dramatic agency. The film finds Laurie Strode’s internal grief manifesting Haddonfield once news of Myers’ return reaches the public. The concept lands with mixed results, but there are enough elements that connect. Green and McBride’s writing intentionally bathes in the camp of its mob mentality madness with endearingly cheesy results (characters chant in unison to take back the city). Emotionally-charged performances from Jamie Lee Curtis, Anthony Michael Hall, and Judy Green also imbue much-needed agency into their fear-ridden roles.
Kills may have worked for me as a self-assured slasher, but even I can acknowledge where the film trails its predecessor. The 2018 original presented a straightforward yet effective descent into Laurie’s lingering PTSD from her near-death experience with Myers. This sequel tries to expand its scope to Myers’ haunting effect on the town, although the script’s over-delivered corniness doesn’t highlight the concept with much interest. As a whole, the narrative lacks the focused structure and sincere character beats that elevated its predecessor past the franchise’s lesser entries.
While this sequel struggles to build upon the franchise’s sturdy dramatic foundation, Halloween Kills unearths enough sinister surprises to please genre fans. It will be fascinating to see how Gordon Green and McBride continue to carry the torch with the franchise’s next entry.
Halloween Kills is now playing in theaters and on Peacock Premium.
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