After David Gordon Green brought the masked man Michael Meyers to new life in 2018 for the fortieth anniversary of John Carpenter’s horror classic, he escapes in the direct sequel HALLOWEEN KILLS once again close to death and opens a bloody hunt for new victims. Unfortunately, this time it’s not nearly as stylish as it was three years before. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: Halloween Kills (USA 2021)
Together with her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has seemingly finally defeated the masked killer Michael Meyers. But as she is rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, the unthinkable happens: the monster that has made her life hell breaks free from the burning house. But Myers doesn’t flee – he continues where he left off: Nothing and no one seems to be able to stop the brutal killer in his bloodlust, and so Laurie also has to fight against her pain and face Myers again. But she is not alone. Inspired by Laurie, the citizens of Haddonfield rise up to free themselves from this recurring nightmare once and for all. Together with other survivors from his first murderous rampage, the Strode women set out into battle with only one goal – no matter how long the night gets, no matter how high the price is: “Evil dies tonight”…
In 2018, director and screenwriter David Gordon Green (“Stronger”) mighty stupid: His rebooted sequel “Halloween”, which ignored all sequels apart from John Carpenter’s original from 1978, was such a success that Blumhouse Productions and Universal didn’t even have to consider whether they would be responsible for it before the first one was released The partly self-confidently announced sequels “Halloween Kills” and “Halloween Ends” – both shot in one go – should be given the green light. With production costs of just $10 to $15 million, Green’s reinterpretation grossed a whopping $256 million. The production studios immediately put another five million on top of that for the production of “Halloween Kills”. It is (still) questionable whether this will be profitable, because in the USA the film will be released as a premium title for 60 days on the streaming service Peacock parallel to its theatrical release in order to make the platform appealing to its potential audience with a bang. But the fact is that the masked killer Michael Meyers still exudes his fascination 40 years after his first screen appearance, so that in keeping with the Halloween festival there can be little doubt that a new box office hit is in the starting blocks. However, after the film it is to be feared that the desire for the third part will plummet again, because “Halloween Kills” is anything but in the mood for another film.
Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode.
David Gordon Green was already remarkably ambitious with “Halloween”. In addition to the self-confidence of wanting to follow on directly from the 1970s cult slasher and thus consciously distinguishing himself from all previous, sometimes extremely trashy to completely loveless sequels between 1981 and 1998, the filmmaker managed an interesting balancing act between homage, new edition and fan service; aimed directly at a contemporary horror film audience and yet nostalgically looking back on an era that particularly shaped the genre. Green and his co-author Danny McBride captured the zeitgeist (“Your Highness”) and Jeff Fradley (“Vice Principals”) especially with its high-gloss stylistics, its massively increased body count compared to the original, and some narrative details. For example, the first Myers victims in the film were, of all things, a couple who produced a true crime podcast. Things then became nostalgic when Jamie Lee Curtis was signed (“Knives Out”) as Laurie Strode and in some directorial decisions that represented a direct, stylistic return to the original; the unmistakable sound of the original “Halloween” motif was included. Both elements of the first part are now also present in the second. But from the first few minutes of “Halloween Kills” it becomes clear that everything seems much more strained than it did three years ago. In order to once again establish a reference to the events in Haddonfield in 1978, this time Green and his team not only use clear quotes, but also conjure up two characters out of the hat – in addition to some characters who actually return from the original – for whom there is a connection with the Carpenter. Original is just an assertion. The feeling of nostalgia that is clearly intended by the production cannot inevitably arise. Because there is no connection at all to the characters who appear here for the first time.
“In order to once again establish a connection to the events in Haddonfield in 1978, Green and his team not only use clear quotes this time, but also conjure up two characters out of the hat – in addition to some characters who actually return from the original – for whom there is a connection with the Carpenter -Original is just an assertion.”
In the admittedly very aesthetically reproducing style of the original, there are flashbacks by Thomas Mann (“Kong: Skull Island”) embodied Detective Hawkins and Leigh Brackett (Charlie Cyphers), who once narrowly escaped from Myers’ clutches, in a series of cannon fodder characters who are particularly noticeable because they are caustic. While in the teen lashers of the 1990s it was in keeping with the much less rough-and-tumble tone that one or two annoying adolescents were granted the opportunity to finally be murdered by a masked killer, “Halloween Kills” is such a dark, nihilistic undertaking , that sympathizing (even if only superficially) with the killer – as was once the case with “Scream” or “I know what you did last summer” – cannot take place here, nor can you root for him, let alone feel for him the hunted in “Halloween Kills”. There is certainly a method to this. Over the course of the 106 minutes of the film, the script aims, among other things, to break up the atmosphere soaked in fear and to turn it very clumsily into a mood of revenge. The sometimes outrageously flat dialogues that constantly blare the subtext of the film in your face (“Now he has us turned into monsters!”), make even “The Purge” series look subtle in its social criticism compared to “Halloween Kills”. And due to the lack of initial spark for such a change in mood in the Haddonfield community, this development seems completely out of thin air.
Michael Myers continues to murder…
While watching a frenzied mob comb through Haddonfield with the intent of taking down Michael Myers himself (all the while doing exactly what’s probably in the textbook “How do I stage a social critique about how the monster isn’t the monster.” “But society itself?”), the Boogeyman murders his way through the streets even more bloodthirsty than usual. In this country, “Halloween Kills” justifiably received an 18+ rating and thus finally breaks away from its roots as a role model that draws its horror primarily from Myer’s unpredictability. The just five corpses in the original become countless here; And it shouldn’t just stop at slitting. An ax or a broken neon tube, for example, is misused. After all: Myers sticks to the conspicuous draping of his corpses, which results in some beautifully gruesome individual images. In general, “Halloween Kills” scores once again visually. In particular, those responsible are doing an excellent job of reviving the 1970s atmosphere. And even if Green severely overuses the stylistic device of slow motion in the present, Michael Simmonds’ (“nerve”) Camera work in its combination of profoundly nihilistic details and a highly elegantly captured basic mood is absolutely worth seeing.
“As you watch a frantic mob scour Haddonfield with the intent of taking down Michael Meyers himself, the Boogeyman murders his way through the streets with even more bloodthirsty than usual.”
But speaking of overextending: As in the “Halloween” film from 2018, Green once again takes the path of unmasking – and again he doesn’t follow it consistently. While Rob Zombie once made a huge statement in his controversial “Halloween II”, taking off Meyers’ mask for the first time and thereby – literally – tearing any fascination from his face, the same motif in “Halloween Kills” lacks statement and impact. Once again, Green refuses to reveal what Meyers really is beneath his mask (a murderous scumbag who, without iconic facewear, per se, gives no reason to declare him a horror icon). In short: these scenes don’t matter at all. And ultimately the entire film in a series consisting of three parts, from which one can only hope that the finale can match the qualities of the opening. In any case, “Halloween Kills” as presented here has no added value whatsoever. No matter what contentious tendencies this film ultimately leads to…
Conclusion: In the slasher sequel “Halloween Kills”, which strives hard for nostalgia, David Gordon Green still manages to reproduce the mood of the Carpenter original here and there after his overall successful reboot/sequel in 2018. Apart from that, crude social criticism, caustic characters and an extreme body count dominate here, due to which the character of Michael Meyer consistently loses his appeal.
“Halloween Kills” can be seen in USA cinemas from October 21, 2021.