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Film Review

HALLOWEEN KILLS (2021) Review

Neil reviews Universal Pictures HALLOWEEN KILLS calling it the “perfect Halloween date-night movie” for horror fans.

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Halloween Kills (Universal Pictures)

Universal Pictures presents Halloween Kills in UK cinemas from today.

Synopsis

Minutes after Laurie Strode (Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) left masked monster Michael Myers caged and burning in Laurie’s basement, Laurie is rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, believing she finally killed her lifelong tormentor.

But when Michael manages to free himself from Laurie’s trap, his ritual bloodbath resumes. As Laurie fights her pain and prepares to defend herself against him, she inspires all of Haddonfield to rise up against their unstoppable monster.

The Strode women join a group of other survivors of Michael’s first rampage who decide to take matters into their own hands, forming a vigilante mob that sets out to hunt Michael down, once and for all.

Review

There’s no escape the fact that 2018’s Halloween reinvigorated the classic horror franchise. Expanding the Strode family whilst keeping ties to the 1978 original both honoured and expanded the world of Haddonfield. The film’s cliffhanger ended undeniably whet the appetite of horror fans for more.

Herein lies what I see as the only detractor for Halloween Kills. With the studio having announced two sequels, this and 2022’s Halloween Ends, there is an inbuilt need to tread water. The story of Halloween Kills absolutely progresses the story of David Gordon Green’s trilogy. But it does so in a way which requires the audience to forget there is much more to come.

Taking place mostly on the same night as the 2018 film, Kills is even more of an anchor to the rest of the franchise. Obviously we have the glorious Jamie Lee Curtis returning once again as Laurie Strode. But alongside her there are plenty more franchise returnees including Kyle Richards, Nancy Stephens and Charles Cyphers. On top of this we have more classic characters, such as Tommy Doyle, appearing albeit recast here as Anthony Michael Hall.

The ensemble cast functions really well together. It brings a sense of legacy to the film as well as serving as a reminder of Michael’s torturous past. Their individual experiences of Michael all add to the story of Kills to amp up the sense of danger. That fact alone helps tip the balance of enjoyment when the mind lingers on the fact there is still one more film to come.

A central plot point to the film is Tommy rallying the people of Haddonfield to band together and take down Michael. It makes narrative sense that a town, plagued for decades by the Myers murders, would resort to mob rule in order to end the madness. There are scenes in the film where the crowd believes they have found Michael and all hell brakes loose. It’s the kind of delirium which echoes the 2021 attack on the US capitol buildings. At times the film even reflects that political unrest, it just never takes the time to explore those aspects too deeply.

But amidst all of the chaos and action that inherent flaw of the next film comes back to haunt us. By the end of Halloween Kills we are still in the same night. With daybreak yet to arrive Michael is still on the loose. But the mobs have spent much of the film chanting “evil dies tonight” which implies the story is almost over. It feels a little redundant against the wait for the final film in the trilogy but is an easily forgivable quibble in what is an excellent watch overall.

As for Michael himself, Halloween Kills finds him at his most brutal. A scene featuring a fire team is particularly bloody but also brings a good scare or two. As for the rest of the story, Michael moves like an unstoppable force. The cast of Kills is perhaps the most diverse in the franchise history with no specialist characteristics safe from Michael’s blade. Once again the franchise flirts with Michael’s supernatural ability to survive but there are no grand reveals or huge twists to be found.

It’s clear that writer Danny McBride was looking to widen the scope of Michael’s legend in this film. Shifting the focus from the Strode family, even for just a second, is a brave move. Whilst the film does suffer slightly from Laure’s confinement to a hospital bed, it more than makes up for it in the final act.

Underpinned by some excellent flashbacks to the night of Michael’s first attack and utilising John Carpenter’s score, Halloween Kills certainly offers a lot to fans of the franchise and of the slasher genre.

Verdict

Though the spectre of 2022’s Halloween Ends looms large, Kills is a fun ride. Equal parts campy and ferocious, Halloween Kills is the perfect Halloween date-night movie.


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