This Time, Haddonfield Fights Back: Halloween Kills Movie Review

Image source: Universal Pictures.

SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers for the events of Halloween (2018) and Halloween Kills (2021).

As Spooky Season continues, that means only one thing: more Halloween installments. While I felt Halloween (2018) was an entertaining if very safe installment, it successfully revived the franchise for a new generation. It’s crazy that Halloween would be the first big horror franchise to reach 13 installments if Halloween Ends, the planned next installment, is made.

Halloween Kills is set immediately after its predecessor, following the townsfolk of Haddonfield, Illinois and their attempt to kill Michael Myers. After a long, agonizing wait, I finally watched the film. Generally, the film was more of a mixed bag than its predecessor.

From a basic plot perspective, the movie was a combination of Halloween II (1981) and Halloween 4: the Return of Michael Myers (1988). The decision to bring back the angry mob idea from 4 was an inspired one, since that movie introduced and quickly discarded that idea. The only downside was the film emphasizing more the mob’s incompetence in lieu of emphasizing the excitement of the idea.

One does not usually go into a slasher film expecting good acting, but Halloween Kills was an exception. Regardless of her limited screen time, Jamie Lee Curtis was great as the iconic Final Girl, Laurie Strode.

It was nice to see characters from the original like Lindsey Wallace portrayed by Kyle Richards. Though, it was perplexing to see how any character development they may’ve had in the years since 1978 was barely explored with them. I thought Andi Matichak as Allyson gave a good performance, any issues in her character resulting from the writing.

Director David Gordon Green more confidently experiments in this film with shots calling back to the blue lighting-drenched atmosphere of the original film. I believe it would’ve been more visually interesting if Green created a stylistic divide.

Stylistic divide as in utilizing 2018’s warmer vibe for those scenes and the colder vibe for the 1978 scenes instead of using the blue lighting for the entire film. This would’ve continued the visual aesthetic from the previous movie, while paying homage to the original.

Carpenter’s score as always was fantastic in conveying a retro, but foreboding atmosphere to the film. My one disappointment was in the absence of a recurring eerie piano leitmotif signifying Michael’s presence in the previous film.

Oscar-winning special effects artist Christopher Nelson and his team continue their fantastic effects work from 2018, upping the ante in gruesomely realistic fashion. The crowning achievement of their efforts being their near-perfect recreation of Donald Pleasence’ likeness as Dr. Loomis for the 1978 flashback. A perfect example of where practical makeup effects can succeed over CGI.

Image source: Universal Pictures.

My biggest faults with the film were in two aspects: the contradicting retcons used to establish story details and an overabundance of flashbacks and fanservice.

The root of the retcon lies in the survival of Officer Hawkins (Will Patton) from Halloween (2018). Considering Hawkins was slashed across the neck and ran over with his own police car in that film, his survival seemed very unlikely. It was clearly written to appease fans’ demands to reveal the 1978 flashback he mentioned in Halloween (2018).

A Halloween sequel retconning plot points from a previous film is ironically not a even new idea, with previous films retconning aspects from each other. It’s disappointing that ill-conceived retcons keep on occurring in the franchise.

As a massive fan of the franchise, its fun to see flashbacks to plot points from the older films, but they started to seem like padding after many were shown. I believe the 12th film in a franchise shouldn’t rely heavily on flashbacks using footage from older films to prove a point.

Focusing on the newly-filmed 1978 flashback in particular, although the mimicry of the original’s atmosphere is amazing, it made Hawkins’ actions incoherent. Showing Hawkins witnessing Myers basically murdering his partner makes his later decision to spare Myers unwarranted.

Ultimately, Halloween Kills was like entertaining filler until the final conflict in Halloween Ends. My issues with the film aside, I’m still super excited for Halloween Ends. I’m hoping for a finale that brings closure to the Myers and Strode saga and cements Jamie Lee Curtis’ legacy with the franchise.

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Valenti Govantes

Just your friendly, neighborhood Medium writer. FIU Alumni. Always open to discussing anything movie or comic book related.