Minutes after being left to die in a burning house, The Shape (aka Michael Myers), escapes and returns to the streets of Haddonfield where a war rages on between the town’s furious residents and this one-man killing machine. Taking on an entirely different storytelling approach to the 2018 film, this second (or technically third) chapter in the Halloween franchise is one destined to divide fans.
The tricky thing about this film is that the reason why I loved watching it so much is also the reason behind its only real flaw. It should be noted that if you’re looking for a slasher film that highlights a defined narrative with great character development, individual character arcs and a little deeper of a story – you won’t find that here. Halloween Kills is almost entirely void of a story that progresses the franchise or propels it into new territory, but that is entirely done by design. This film does have a purpose, but its purpose is purely to follow Michael Myers as he embarks on an unstoppable rampage through the streets of Haddonfield – all over the course of a couple of hours on a single night. There’s nothing much deeper than that, and it also doesn’t pretend to be anything other than just that. Sure, there’s a couple of scenes dedicated to tying these events into what went down on halloween night in 1978, but they’re so minimal that they don’t take away from the barebones purpose of the film.
It’s clear that this is merely a bridge to get us from 2018’s Halloween to 2022’s Halloween Ends. It acts as an epilogue to the 2018 film and a prologue to the 2022 finale. This can be seen as a bad thing for anyone looking for a little deeper of a story that pushes the franchise into new territory, which I must admit would have been nice. However, this approach still had me loving almost every minute of what I saw. The focus is entirely hinged on the Michael and the brutal force of evil that he is, carving through the residents of Haddonfield as if he’s just out for a chill Sunday stroll, and the determination of the residents to fight back. It’s obviously a very minimal narrative, and I’d even hesitate to call it a narrative, but I’d say it’s enough. David Gordon Green has set out to deliver a slasher film in its purest form – a man killing his victims in creatively brutal ways over the course of 1 hour and 47 minutes – and he’s succeeded in every way.
The decision to focus entirely on the action, the horror and the unstoppable force that is Michael Myers, has resulted in a thrilling ride that is non-stop from beginning to end. There’s a couple of very brief character-centric moments, but overall the film doesn’t give you any room to properly breathe. It ramps up in tension from beginning to end as Michael unleashes chaos on the town, giving us a number of brutal kills and claustrophobic horror sequences that are trademarks of the franchise. I didn’t know that a non-stop run of pure brutality is what this film was going to be, but as a fan of the slasher genre and the Halloween franchise, I loved the approach. Every kill was as rewarding as the last, and in terms of the tone, it felt very much like the original Halloween – especially during a few key scenes that are so incredible and tonally spot on that I couldn’t possibly spoil them here.
In terms of the performances, I have absolutely no complaints because they’re all pretty good, but this is where not having much of a character-centric story means the actors can’t grow the characters that much. There’s a pretty large group of ensemble characters in here, and they’re all entertaining, but because of how much of the film is purely focused on Michael hacking and slashing – no one gets the time to really shine. Of course, the returning Jamie lee Curtis, Judy Greer and Andi Matichak are great as ever, continuing to play their characters really well and sell the sheer terror of going through this one night. But there’s the addition of Will Patton (Hawkins), Robert Longstreet (Lonnie), Anthony Michael Hall (Tommy) and Kyle Richards (Lindsey) really flesh out the cast and make following the residents of Haddonfield quite engaging. No one is winning any acting awards, but everyone in here fits their respective character.
DoP Michael Simmonds has once again replicated the visual feel and truly haunting atmosphere of 1978’s Halloween with some impressive cinematography. He did a great job at filming around The Shape in 2018’s Halloween to where you never knew when or where he’d show up. This time it’s a little different, with The Shape being more at the forefront and getting a tonne of screen time, but nonetheless he still manages to create an eerie atmosphere though some quite memorable horror sequences. Combined with the bone-chilling score from John Carpenter and co., that Halloween atmosphere is ever present. Whenever that classic score kicks in, which Carpenter has ever so slightly adjusted and weaved into this film, it’s like a nostalgia bomb which instantly makes any scene more terrifying.
In the end, Halloween Kills doesn’t do much to further the story from the end of the 2018 film, taking place over a couple of hours and not really delving deeper into our main characters. However, that doesn’t mean the film isn’t entertaining. Rather, it’s a non-stop horror-fest, with scene after scene of brutal violence and bloody horror as Michael Myers takes the stage in all his evil glory. It really is a slasher film in its purest form, harking back to the slashers of old – perhaps just without some of the subtlety of the original Halloween. It’s pure slasher chaos and there really is a lot to love, even with the lack of a strong narrative and any character development. Those looking for pure slasher action will get a kick out of it, although anyone looking for a deeper horror adventure may be left wanting more.