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Review: ‘Halloween Kills’ Brings the Slasher Series One Step Closer to Coming Full Circle

October 14, 2021Ben MK

Like many long-standing horror movie franchises, Halloween has seen it all, from sequels of varying quality to remakes that attempt to redefine both the story and its characters. Yet, like its main antagonist, the unkillable Michael Myers, the series has not only survived — it has thrived. It's a 40-year cinematic legacy director David Gordon Green took to heart with 2018's Halloween, a film that reintroduced the franchise to a new generation of moviegoers while also honoring John Carpenter's classic. And in Halloween Kills, Green returns to Haddonfield, as its citizens set out to put an end to the Boogeyman that's been haunting their town once and for all.

Continuing directly from where its predecessor left off, Halloween Kills reunites audiences with Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), mere minutes after they narrowly escape a deadly encounter with Michael by trapping him in the basement of Laurie's heavily fortified home and setting the entire structure ablaze. But while that sequence provided viewers of the last installment with something of a sense of closure and somewhat of a happy ending, all of that is undone with the opening to this sequel. For when firefighters arrive at the scene of the inferno in an attempt to extinguish the flames, they unwittingly free Michael from his fiery prison, who then proceeds to viciously and gruesomely dispatch with each and every one of the first responders before resuming his homicidal rampage.

Meanwhile, in a bar somewhere across town, a group of survivors of Michael's original 1978 massacre are celebrating the anniversary of the grisly event that put Haddonfield on the map. But when word begins to spread that Michael is once again on the loose, Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) — who happens to be the boy Laurie was babysitting that fateful night — takes it upon himself to try and do something about it. Armed with nothing more than a baseball bat and a stern sense of vigilante justice, Tommy forms an angry mob, eventually leading them to the hospital where Laurie and her family are recovering, in anticipation that Michael will make his way there as well. However, will strength in numbers be enough to overcome what has proven time and time again to be the ultimate evil? Or will it result in more bloodshed and more innocent lives being lost?

What follows not only makes for a solid second chapter to the 2018 reboot, it also smartly integrates footage and characters from the very first Halloween, making for a seamless experience for longtime fans that also brings the series one step closer to coming full circle. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the subplot featuring Officer Hawkins (Will Patton), whose history with Michael gets significant screen time here, thanks to flashbacks that show a young Hawkins' (Thomas Mann) first run-in with the serial killer and his subsequent regret about not stopping him when he had the chance. Other returning characters, on the other hand, don't fare nearly as well. So while it may be a pleasant surprise to see more familiar faces among the cast, viewers would do best not to get too attached — as literally any of them could meet an untimely and bloody demise at any given moment.

Still, Halloween Kills is far from perfect. There are long stretches of the movie where the script by Green, Danny McBride and Scott Teems shifts its focus from the brutal killing spree to the secondary characters, draining the film of its murderous momentum faster than Michael can drain the blood from one of his victims. It just goes to show that even though the franchise has come a long way, it all boils down to Michael himself — proving that you can try to take Haddonfield out of the monster, but you can't take the monster out of Haddonfield.

Halloween Kills releases October 15th, 2021 from Universal Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of R for strong bloody violence throughout, grisly images, language and some drug use. Its runtime is 1 hr. 46 min.

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