“The saga of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode continues in the next thrilling chapter of the Halloween series.”

Director: David Gordon Green
Writers: John Carpenter, Debra Hill, Scott Teems
Staring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, James Judy Courtney, Will Patton
Streaming: Peacock
Release Date: October 15, 2021

Here is the thing about Halloween Kills (2021). It is not a Halloween movie, and by that I mean, it is not in the same vane as the original Halloween (1978) or the reboot of the franchise with Halloween (2018). The characters are the same. The decor of Michael Myers is the same. The town is the same. However, the mood, the aesthetic and the editing style choices made in Halloween Kills are foreign to what made the hits for the Halloween franchise great.

Halloween Kills begins immediately after its predecessor. It is Halloween night and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), Karen (Judy Greer) and Allyson (Andi Matichak) just teamed up to lock Michael Myers in Laurie’s burning basement. The rest of the town is mostly unaware of the terror Myers has brought back.

The bloodbath in Haddonfield is not over, rather it is just beginning. Myers manages to escape his fiery prison and the slaughtering continues. First responders are massacred and so begins Myers’ path back to his childhood home.

A death shadow has been cast over Haddonfield and the town’s inhabitants are starting to realize. As news of the murders spread, characters from the past are reintroduced into the franchise. The children that Laurie babysat are all grown up. Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) and Lindsey Wallace (Kyle Richards) are still friends and at a local bar they are joined by former Smith Grove’s Sanitarium nurse Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens) and Michael Myers survivor Lonnie Elam (Robert Longstreet). It is at this gathering they all discover Michael Myers is back and the terror that has haunted their memories is back.

Doyle is the ringleader in rallying the crowd of Haddonfield angry residents and together they are applying their own stress, pressures and mindset to the pursuit of Michael Myers. The police become irrelevant as the mob takes shape. This unfolding of sanity is a side effect of the evil Michael Myers is manifesting with his killing spree; as Laurie Strode soliloquies, this means that Myers is winning.

Come the end of Halloween Kills, the task of stopping Michael Myers falls upon the next generation of Strode. Laurie, who is cooped up in a hospital after having been stabbed in Halloween, can do nothing to sit back and wait as her daughter and granddaughter attempt to go after Myers. Karen and her daughter Allyson diverge on their paths to try and stop their grandmother’s tormentor. While working separately, both women are on a mission to make sure that evil dies on this Halloween night.

So that is the plot. In the simplest terms, this is a story about good trying to vanquish an unstoppable evil. Despite adding in the layers of old characters reemerging and a few new faces arriving, Halloween Kills still manages to keep its simple purpose.

So story is not the reason Halloween Kills fails. It is how director David Gordon Green paces that movie, and in particular, it is how he decides to approach some of the biggest moments in the movie.

When Michael Myers emerges from his assumed hellish prison at the start of the movie, the pace and editing of evil being rebirth is rushed and frantic. There are slow-motion shots to try and make Myers look as cool as possible, but the esthetic of easy violence is ruined when the impaling begins. The opening killing spree reminded me a lot of My Bloody Valentine (2009). It is more about the brutality of the kills rather than the ethos of the kills. It is about the amount of blood spilt more than anything else.

That is the start of Halloween Kills. There is also the ending.

The final showdown in the movie is edited in such a jarring way that it takes one right out of the movie. At no other point in Halloween Kills does the violence look like or flow like it does in the finale. The bones breaking in slow motion and the over-the-top reactions from those being killed are not traditional to the Halloween franchise. The kills can be brutal and bloody, but in no other movie are they stylized like a page in a graphic novel. Such a change of pace with the movie, and within the franchise as a whole, ensure that Halloween Kills is different. However, different is not always good.

Director Gordon Green finds the groove of Halloween Kills when Michael Myers is stalking victims in their homes. When we don’t know where the man in the mask is hiding, that is where the tension lies. The inevitability of death looms large, but we do not know when the knife is going to come slashing down. The slower staged kills following Michael’s escape from Laurie’s house are the best kills of the movie.

The other major flaw of Halloween Kills is in terms of

STANKO RATING: D+ (1.5/5 Stars)

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