Film Review: Halloween Kills

Spoilers ahead, duh!

A huge part of Michael Myers is the mask of course and I never thought I’d love a mask almost as much as the original William Shatner one, but I love the look of this one! So cool.

I love Michael Myers. Is that weird? That character, who has become something of a Hollywood and horror institution, is just fun to watch on the big screen (or little screen), quite frankly. In summer 2020, I re-watched most of the Halloween franchise and reviewed them on the blog here. My thing with the franchise is similar to my rule of thumb as it concerns pizza (yes): there are no bad Halloween films; there are only better Halloween films. Even the worst Halloween film, which is perhaps Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (even though I’ve warmed up to it the older I get), is still fun to watch! Because … it’s Michael freaking Myers!

Now, I don’t do that long preface because I didn’t like Halloween Kills. In fact, I loved it. I do that preface to explain the kind of mindset I bring to Halloween films and the fandom that stokes my bias.

The film, delayed due to the pandemic, finally released on Oct. 15. It picks up where the 2018 film left off after Laurie (played by Jamie Lee Curtis), Karen, her daughter (played by Judy Greer) and Allyson, Karen’s daughter (played by Andi Matichak), have presumably killed Myers by burning him alive in Laurie’s home.

Instead, it turns out that Michael Myers is still alive and he has his way with the firefighters who responded to the blaze. Meanwhile, we get some of my favorite scenes when we flashback to Oct. 31, 1978, the setting of the first film in the franchise. You know I’m a sucker for that!

The setup is that Deputy Frank Hawkins (played by Will Patton, who is perfectly cast for the role) was presumably killed in the prior film after being stabbed by Dr. Ranbir Sartain (Myers’ new doctor). Instead, one of the teens finds him still alive and that allows a vehicle into those 1978 flashbacks. He was was a rookie deputy responding to the slayings of that night and encountered Michael Myers with his partner at the Myers home.

God, I loved seeing the classic white mask! And the quickness and strength with which Michael Myers came out of nowhere to attack the partner (it reminded me of Michael Myers coming out of the pantry/closet to kill Bob in the original). Hawkins ends up shooting his own partner when Michael Myers is strangling him.

Then, when Dr. Sam Loomis tries to execute Michael Myers on the street with deputies surrounding them, Hawkins actually interferes and stops Dr. Loomis. He blames himself all these years later for interjecting himself. But that’s how Michael Myers ended up in the institute for all these years before escaping in 2018. I’m glad they tried to explain Michael Myers’ capture!

From there, we learn that the other survivors of that night, Tommy and Lindsey (the two kids Laurie was babysitting), Lonnie (the one who tried to go to Michael Myers’ house as a kid), Marion (the nurse! who responded with Dr. Loomis to the institute) and Sheriff Brackett, whose daughter Annie was killed in the original, and how it’s affected them, even all these years later. They end up forming a mob upon hearing the news of Michael Myers’ mayhem. Instead, the mob turns on a different escaped institute inmate, who commits suicide to escape them.

I hope the third films gives us more of Allyson’s character because not only does Andi Matichak kill the role (hehe), but she’s the most interesting character opposite Michael Myers at this point!

Laurie is still recovering from being stabbed in the hospital and is in the hospital room with Hawkins. They talk and we get one of my favorite expositions: Laurie, it’s not about you! Remember, in this timeline of the franchise, Laurie is not Michael Myers’ sister. That has not been established. She’s just someone who he stalked in 1978 along with others. But Laurie because of her trauma, thinks it’s all about her. She even thinks that, whether she dies or not, she has to be the one to confront Michael Myers to end it all. Instead, Hawkins tells her it’s not about her. And in fact, the one constant is that Michael Myers goes back to his childhood home and specifically, the place where he killed his sister, Judith, as a six-year-old boy. I love that mythos-building! It makes total sense in this new timeline! That he would be obsessed with the house and the place of his first kill.

He also explains to Laurie that it wasn’t like Michael Myers somehow knew where Laurie’s home was; instead, he was taken there by the deranged Dr. Sartain.

Which gets to the best thematic point about Michael Myers in this film and which manifest in this film quite a bit: Michael Myers is a tornado for which his childhood home acts as a gravitational pull on that tornado. Anything in the path of that tornado is going to get wiped out. There’s nothing personal about a tornado and there’s nothing personal about what Michael Myers is doing, contra what Laurie thinks. And there’s no reasoning with a tornado. Throughout the film, we see people try to reason, taunt or cajole Michael Myers so he doesn’t kill such and such person; there’s no reasoning with a tornado! There’s no taunting a tornado! It’s a tornado!

Time and again, we see Michael Myers with dispassionate menace kill people in the film and that’s the perfect way to depict Michael Myers and is in the spirit of the 1978 film. In one scene, he brutally smashes Allyson’s boyfriend, Cameron’s, head against the banister. As he walks down the stairs to come after Allyson, he notices Cameron is still alive, so he stops and finishes him off. Beautiful in the most macabre way to represent what Michael Myers is in this film.

Now, the film is not perfect. Tommy is a moron and rightly gets castigated by the other characters for being a moron, although you could understand him being overzealous. But it’s amusing that he thinks he’s going to take down Michael Myers with a baseball bat, even after seeing the gun supply that Lonnie has, he sticks with the bat! Then, he keeps going after the other convict from the institute and remarks, “How was I supposed to know? We’ve never seen Michael Myers’ face!” or something like that, and it’s like, yeah, but Michael Myers didn’t have that pudgy, small body!

In addition, Tommy I believe is the one who talks about how they need to be a united front so Haddonfield residents can finally vanquish this menace from their town. All well and good. I love the idea of the residents being fed up with Michael Myers after all these years! But then, in encounter after encounter, they go it alone! They split up! In classic horror movie cliché.

All of that is minor, but a major thing I did not like is that at the end, Michael Myers kills Karen! You can’t kill Laurie, Karen or Allyson off from this franchise as far as I’m concerned! Enough said.

Back to a positive, one of my favorite shots from the film, aside from the exciting 1978 flashbacks, is when the mob thinks they’ve finally got Michael Myers, and this time, it’s actually Michael Myers. They’re stabbing and attacking and shooting him. But of course, he’s a tornado, none of that works and he ends up massacring them all, including Tommy. There’s this slow-motion shot with everything in the background darkened and we get a closeup of Michael Myers’ face/mask and it’s again beautiful in the most macabre way. I loved that.

Overall, if you’re a fan of the franchise, I don’t see why you wouldn’t enjoy this film! Fans take this stuff way too seriously, in my view. I enjoy the homages to past films. I enjoy taking the franchise in new directions (like learning that Dr. Loomis was going to execute Michael Myers, or try). I enjoy seeing Michael Myers! If you do, too, then you’ll geek out on seeing him here.

And as a final send-off, I’ve been listening to my favorite piece from the original soundtrack as I wrote this:

Bring on Halloween Ends! Which, I hope it never ends. I hope, if I make it to 85, they’re still cranking out films about Michael Myers, the Shape.

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