It’s Spooky Season! Time to make everything dark, scary, and frightening to the point where you are checking under your bed for monsters and making sure that the doors are locked at night. This level of fright was something that all the classic slasher villains did so much better than anything that came in the post Ring/Saw era of horror, where jumpscares and loud noises became the norm. Halloween Kills sees the return of old-school, and true, horror on the big screen during a season where we could do with a real supernatural scare rather than a reflection of the world outside or another addition to the jumpscare wannabe horror movies.
Title: Halloween Kills Production Company: Miramax & Blumhouse Productions Distributed by: Universal Pictures Directed by: David Gordon Green Produced by: Malek Akkad, Jason Blum, & Bill Block Written by: Scott Teems, Danny McBride, & David Gordon Green Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Thomas Mann, Anthony Michael Hall, & Kyle Richards Based on: Halloween by John Carpenter & Debra Hill Release dates: October 15, 2021 Running time: 105 minutes Rating: R
Another Halloween to Remember
On October 31, 2018, after being stabbed and left to die by Dr. Ranbir Sartain, Deputy Frank Hawkins is found by Cameron Elam. Hawkins awakens and remembers the events of 40 years earlier during the search for Michael Myers following his escape after being shot. In 1978, Hawkins accidentally killed his partner trying to save him from Michael in the Myers house before preventing Michael’s original psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis from killing his patient outside, resolving to kill him in the present.
Meanwhile, Tommy Doyle is at a local bar celebrating the 40th anniversary of Michael’s arrest and imprisonment, and to commemorate the memory of his victims, along with fellow survivors Marion Chambers, Lindsey Wallace, and Cameron’s father, Lonnie Elam, who briefly encountered Michael in 1978, before toasting Laurie Strode. A group of firefighters respond to Laurie’s burning house and unwittingly free Michael who massacres them with their own equipment. Laurie, her daughter Karen, and her granddaughter Allyson arrive at Haddonfield Memorial Hospital where Laurie undergoes emergency surgery. Michael murders Laurie’s neighbors Sondra and Phil before making his way deeper into Haddonfield. An emergency newscast of the killings alerts Tommy, Marion, Lindsey, and Lonnie of Michael’s escape before bar patron Vanessa supposedly encounters Michael in the backseat of her car. Tommy and a group of people head outside to confront him as the car drives away and crashes; the driver, whom they falsely believe to be Michael, escapes unnoticed. While Lonnie heads off to pick up Cameron, Tommy forms a mob of vengeful Haddonfield citizens to hunt down and kill Michael before he can kill anyone else.
The police inform Karen and Allyson that Michael escaped and is still alive. Karen decides to withhold the information from Laurie to allow her to recover while Allyson reconciles with Cameron and joins him along with his father and the others to hunt down Michael and avenge her own father’s death. Laurie and Hawkins, now sharing a hospital room, both awaken and reminisce about their former relationship. Lindsey encounters two teenagers in a park who had seen Michael but didn’t seem to care until they see Michael holding a bloody mask of their friend who had worn it earlier. Lindsey, Marion, Vanessa, and her husband Marcus are ambushed by Michael in the park after warning Haddonfield residents to stay inside; all of them are killed except for Lindsey who escapes and hides. Allyson, Cameron, Tommy, and Lonnie arrive at the scene discovering the bodies of the others on a playground, all wearing the masks that were worn earlier by the prankster teenagers Lindsey had encountered, these same teenagers had pranked Big John and Little John, the current owners of Michael’s childhood home. They find Lindsey traumatized and injured but alive and she is taken to the hospital.
While Tommy takes Lindsey to the hospital, Lonnie, Cameron, and Allyson map out the path Michael is taking. Based on where his victims are located, they deduce that he is heading towards his childhood home. Tommy reunites with former Haddonfield sheriff Leigh Brackett, whose daughter Annie was killed by Michael in 1978, and then informs Laurie of Michael’s survival. Across town, Michael murders Big John and Little John as Laurie prepares to leave the hospital to have her final confrontation with him. The driver of Vanessa’s car; Lance Tovoli, who is a fellow patient at Smith’s Grove Psychiatric Hospital alongside Michael and escaped when the bus crashed, arrives at the hospital. Tommy and his mob mistake Lance for Michael and pursue him through the hospital. Karen manages to reach Lance and realizes he isn’t Michael. Despite Karen’s attempts to calm the mob and help Lance, he jumps out of a window to his death. Brackett grows concerned that the mob is turning into monsters from their fear and panic, while Laurie, who was injured during the chase, urges Karen to work with Tommy and hunt down Michael.
Back at the Myers house, Lonnie arms himself and heads in alone until Allyson and Cameron hear gunshots and rush inside to help him. They discover the bodies of Big John, Little John, and Lonnie before being attacked by Michael. In the ensuing fight, Michael breaks Allyson’s legs by shoving her down the stairs and brutally beats Cameron before snapping his neck. As Michael prepares to kill Allyson, Karen stabs him in the back with a pitchfork, steals his mask, and taunts him to follow her. Karen lures Michael into the path of Tommy’s mob. Michael recovers his mask before being attacked and seemingly killed by the mob. As Karen leaves to reunite with Allyson, Brackett prepares to shoot Michael in the head. Michael recovers and manages to slaughter the entire mob, including Brackett and Tommy. Back at the Myers’s house as Allyson receives medical attention, Karen sees a young Michael looking out the bedroom window and investigates. Michael appears and stabs her to death. Laurie stares out of her hospital room window while Michael stares out his window.
A Huge List of Victims
Halloween Kills has a very large cast, bringing a lot of characters from the Halloween franchise, both the 1978 original film and some of the now erased sequels, back into the fold. While it is great to see a lot of these characters return, alongside some new ones, many of them do come back as victim fodder for Michael Myers to kill off in Halloween Kills. So instead of going through the whole cast for Halloween Kills, I kept it to some of the major characters that were involved in the film’s main storylines.
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode One of the original kick-ass women of horror (and also second-generation Scream Queen, as Curtis’ mother Janet Leigh, was the original Scream Queen in the movie classic Psycho), Curtis did a fantastic job in returning to the Halloween franchise only a few years ago in the Halloween rebooted sequel. In Halloween Kills though, she is put on the sidelines, with her injuries suffered at the hands of Michael Myers keeping her in a hospital bed. While this makes sense from the narrative of Halloween Kills picking up directly after the events of Halloween, but hurts her character as she is the one who should be taking down Myers as this is her story and not the story of the town.
James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle as “The Shape” aka Michael Myers Interesting use of two people in Halloween Kills to have the same character. Courtney was used as Myers for a lot of the fight scenes and stunt work, much like he did in Halloween, with Castle being used for close-up and maskless shots in Halloween Kills, keeping his character work from the original Halloween intact. While Castle still looks imposing and scary in the role, even more with the mask off (Though you never see his face in the light, only in shadow), it’s great to see Courtney stepping up into a legendary role and looking like a great replacement should Castle be unable to fulfill the role in the future.
Aaron Armstrong as “The Shape” aka Michael Myers (1978 Halloween night flashbacks). It can’t be easy having to retrace the steps of one of cinema’s greatest horror monsters, however, Armstrong does an amazing job as Michael Myers in the flashback scenes of Halloween Kills. His movements look like they were replicated step for step from the 1978 original, right down to the final shot where it pulls the end of the original Halloween right from the original version of the film. A major accomplishment that should not go without mention.
Judy Greer as Karen Nelson Halloween Kills feels more like Karen’s story than Laurie’s story, as she spends a good part of the story involved in a lot of the events of Halloween Kills. While she is the one who is trying to just avoid everything after her husband’s death in Halloween, Karen does what she can to be the kinder version of Laurie, ultimately trying to help an escaped mental patient who is mistaken for Michael Myers by the angry town lynch mob.
Andi Matichak as Allyson Nelson Allyson is a lot more direct in nature than her mother, Karen, during the events of Halloween Kills. She goes out into the town to help her ex-boyfriend Cameron and his father, Lonnie, track down Michael Myers in order to take him down once and for all. She ultimately ends up as a victim of Myers but is able to survive, technically making her the “final girl” of Halloween Kills. Given the events near the end of Halloween Kills, it will be interesting to see how Allyson goes from here as a character since we don’t see her reaction to the end of the film.
Will Patton as Deputy Frank Hawkins Hawkins doesn’t really do much here, as, like Lourie, he is stuck in a hospital bed. Though his actions during the 1978 Michael Myers killings, Michael is still walking today, and he obviously blames himself for not pulling the trigger back then and stopping everything that has happened since. This little bit of information helps bring the burden of what Laurie has been dealing with for decades into light, and helps give her someone to support her, it will be up to the next sequel to see how everything plays out for him.
Anthony Michael Hall as Tommy Doyle, Lindsey’s friend and one of the kids Laurie babysat in 1978. If there is anyone in Halloween Kills that you would call a “main character” it is Tommy Doyle. In the early part of the film, he establishes a very interesting fact: Michael Myers does not kill children, but he will scare them. After surviving an encounter with Myers in 1978, the grown-up Tommy does everything he can to make sure that the town does not forget the legend of Michale Myers and also celebrates his fellow survivors from the 1978 attack. He does lead the town in a lynch mob mentality, exclaiming that “Evil dies tonight!” and getting anyone he can to help him track down and kill Myers, but he has a change of mind when his actions lead to an innocent man getting killed by the mob’s collective hands. It looks like Tommy is going to be one of the characters who will feature more in the next Halloween film.
Robert Longstreet as Lonnie Elam Lonnie starts out in the flashbacks as one of the town bullies, but after the encounters with Myers in both Halloween films, he has changed his ways. Somewhere between 1978 and 2018, Lonnie befriends Tommy, pushing him to celebrate their survival at the local bar. He joins Tommy in a group that tries to track down and kill Myers, only to end up dead himself, showing that Myers will eventually get most of those who escaped him.
Kyle Richards as Lindsey Wallace, Tommy’s friend and one of the kids Laurie babysat in 1978. Lindsey, another survivor of the 1978 Halloween, returns to rejoin her friends and fellow survivors for the 40th anniversary of their survival. She, along with her group of friends, joins Tommy in his quest to take down Myers once and for all. However, unlike quite a few of her friends, she was able to survive once again. What puzzles me is that once she appears in the hospital and triggers Tommy to create a lynch mob, she disappears from Halloween Kills without any update on her condition at all.
Scott MacArthur as Big John &Michael McDonald as Little John Ok, while these two don’t have any connection to the events of Halloween, other than the fact that they live in the house Michael Myers lived in as a child and was caught in at the end of Halloween, they are notable since their characters have a few moments where they are both victim and aggressor. The LGBT+ couple is very cool in the way that they fall victim to a group of children’s prank, only to turn the tables on the kids with the tale of Myers. Later on, when Myers returns to his home, their banter to each other while trying to find the murderer was a highlight and much-needed moment of levity… Shame they end as victims.
The Master of Reboots
Over 40 years after introducing Michael Myers to audiences in 1978, John Carpenter still knows how to write a horror film that will resonate with you long after the credits have finished rolling. The way Carpenter has written Halloween Kills is a master class in old-school horror and suspense. From the way, he uses the absence of light, the timing of the soundtrack, using far-off shots that make you think you saw something that wasn’t really there, Halloween Kills shows that horror comes from the imagination, not jump scares. To say that I went around the house after watching this at home (Thank you Peacock for streaming this at a time where I can’t see it in cinemas due to still being in lockdown) making sure the doors were closed and locked should give you enough of an idea of how good and frightened I was after watching Halloween Kills.
One of the main things that make Halloween Kills work as a movie is that it feels old-school while updating and bringing the whole experience into the modern era. Myers still kills with the force of an unstoppable juggernaut, hacking and slashing his way through groups of people like they were nothing, with those who survive each attack getting more and more frightened till they can’t take it anymore and strike back. This is a horror film making at its best, showing how one monster can create fear through a whole town of people. The great acting from everyone involved really drags you into their world as a good movie should.
Some Things Never Die
Halloween Kills isn’t a perfect film by any means, not by a long shot. While I do give it a lot of praise from a filmmaking perspective, there are a few things that Carpenter did that really show his age when it comes to how he writes his movies. One of the biggest issues with Halloween Kills is that it still relies on the tropes from 1978 when a lot of these things were new and some of them were unproblematic. Halloween Kills does things like the “final girl” trope, leaving one female alive at the end of the film to carry over into the next one, and the now much-reviled “black person dies first” trope, which has been all but eliminated from the genre, but kinds pop up here in first a comedic jab at the trope, then actually happening later in the film.
Halloween Kills does feel like a product of the old era of horror films, which might seem like a turn-off for more modern audiences. However, Halloween Kills was not made with modern audiences in mind, these reboots were made to tell Carpenter’s original vision for the Halloween franchise before corporate got involved and decided there needed to be way too many of these movies made under the Halloween brand, by many different hands that weren’t Carpenters. Halloween Kills is made for the original 1978 fans who have held onto the franchise for over 40 years, giving them something to be excited about, which is not a bad thing.
Halloween, and now Halloween Kills, should be an example of how old-school techniques, prop work, and cinematography can be used in the modern era to great success, with barely any CGI required. For too long horror filmmakers have relied on computers to bring the scares, when the best ones can be seen in a film like Halloween Kills without the need for any of it. Combine this idea with great solid casting and acting, with a master hand at the controls, and you have a film that becomes one of the best in the genre, let alone the franchise. While many have said doing this alternate route system, erasing other films from the timeline, can hurt the franchise, Halloween Kills shows that you can do this route and make things better than they were before.
Halloween, and now Halloween Kills, should be an example of how old-school techniques, prop work, and cinematography can be used in the modern era to great success, with barely any CGI required. For too long horror filmmakers have relied on computers to bring the scares, when the best ones can be seen in a film like Halloween Kills without the need for any of it. Combine this idea with great solid casting and acting, with a master hand at the controls, and you have a film that becomes one of the best in the genre, let alone the franchise.
Some of the best horror writing in years
The use of old-school movie-making techniques add horror to the film