Halloween Kills: Not the Sequel We Want, But the Sequel We Deserve

To further prove and cement that I do not understand, nor really care about, SEO, I am writing on Halloween Kills a week after it premiered while everyone else is discussing DUNE. Yeah, I probably don’t really know what I’m doing, but oh well.

First, to get it out of the way, I enjoyed Halloween Kills. It was good movie, a decent sequel, and far better than most of the films in the long Halloween franchise. It is by no means perfect, and I fully understand many of the criticisms and issues people have with the film, but I genuinely believe it is still worth watching. Admittedly, I do find the 2018 reboot sequel to be a better film than this one, but even that one had some similar issues as Kills. I just think there was more forgiveness and allowance for Halloween 2018 that this film isn’t given for a number of reasons. So, if you are just looking for another opinion stating that the movie is good, there you have it. For everyone else wanting to read a bit more of a deep dive: SPOILERS below.

Three generations of Strode women who have all lost to and taken something from Michael Myers.

The movie opens in the past back to October 31, 1978, the night of Michael Myers first murder spree in Haddonfield. This flashback centers on a young Frank Hawkins fresh on the force pursuing Michael Myers to bring him to justice. Hawkins, along with other deputies and officers, go around Haddonfield on this Halloween night encountering other future survivors and inhabitants of the quaint town until they arrive at the Myers home. Hawkins and his partner enter the house under the belief that Michael is inside. They turn out to be correct and in the attempt to detain Michael, Hawkins accidentally shoots and kills his partner. Myers is arrested after this incident in front of his childhood home, and his life is spared from the gunshot of Dr. Samuel Loomis by Hawkins intervention under the guise of doing his duty and allowing justice and the courts to decide Michael’s fate, a decision that Hawkins would in the future come to deeply regret.

From here, we flash forward forty years to the present day where Cameron Elam, idiot ex-boyfriend of Allyson, finds the injured Sheriff Hawkins on the road still alive after his attack from Dr. Rabin Sartain. Cameron provides minimal aid, but manages to keep Hawkins alive until an ambulance along with law enforcement arrive to save Hawkins’s life. Before being taken to the hospital, Hawkins vows to do what he should’ve done in the past and put an end to Michael Myers. Cameron also phones his father, Lonnie Elam, another “survivor” of the massacre of Haddonfield from forty years prior, for help at some point, but we will not see that till a bit later. What we do get after the scene of Cameron helping Hawkins is a bar. In this bar, we find Lonnie along with fellow survivors of Michael’s terror: Tommy Doyle, the young boy Laurie babysat in the original film, Lindsey Wallace, the young girl who was left behind with Laurie by her babysitter Annie Brackett, and Dr. Loomis’s nurse Marion Chambers. At the bar, Tommy tells the tale of the Haddonfield Boogeyman, an annual tradition these four seem to have, to the crowd. While coming off a bit heavy handed and slightly cheesy, I am a fan of this development and of Anthony Michael Hall’s acting in this scene.

Yes, Tommy, a bat will totally take down Michael Myers.

One of the bigger complaints that audiences had with the 2018 film was that since the majority of the Halloween franchise was essentially ignored, why did Laurie and Hawkins and Sartain react to Michael Myers the way they do. After all, he is not the invincible, unstoppable threat that later films made him to be at this point, and, in film continuity and reality, he just killed like 3 or 4 teenagers: tragic, sure, but hardly worth the construction of an elaborate trap house to kill the man. Yet, this scene emphasizes what the first film touched on. For the majority of Haddonfield (and the audience), Michael Myers is just a story that most have forgotten or have never really heard. It’s an unfortunate situation from four decades before, so for the citizens of Haddonfield, Myers is simply an urban legend, a story they might hear or tell by a campfire to scare small children. However, for those that actually dealt with Myers, in even a small capacity, it was a traumatic event that shaped the entirety of their lives.

For much of the press tour, Jamie Lee Curtis has stated that the new films are about trauma, and while it is a simplistic answer meant for succinct headlines and press, she is not wrong. Halloween 2018 dealt, narratively, with Laurie’s trauma and how the events of the original film impacted her life, her relationships, and her family. Halloween Kills expands on that concept and shows how the events of the original went beyond Laurie Strode and how it left scars and wounds for so many others that never healed. Accordingly, this lack of healing and closure from that trauma affects the entire town of Haddonfield because it seeps into the events of the new cycle of Michael’s horror and grows exponentially within the paranoid, trauma ridden populace of the formerly quiet little community of Haddonfield.

After raising a toast to the victims of Michael Myers and specifically to Laurie Strode, we finally return to the Strode family leaving the ongoing fire they set to finally kill the Boogeyman. However, their hopes are dashed by the arrival of emergency response team of firefighters who do not manage to quell the flames but do manage to save Michael Myers from a fiery death. Their reward for their act of bravery and mercy is a pretty entertaining death sequence. If you chose to watch Halloween Kills for some gruesome death sequences, well this is the first of many to look forward to. This is also the first indication that Myers is starting to become more of the unstoppable force of death he was from the other films as opposed to an above average strong guy with a dash of luck. He is truly becoming the myth and legend his victims have made him out to be before our very eyes.

The Man, The Myth, The Shade

This is another criticism of the film by many, and I honestly don’t have a good defense or justification to present. I basically agree that this shift diminished the film a bit for me. I preferred Michael Myers as a bit more of just a dude who was a psychopath that liked to kill people more than some sort of supernatural force of nature that is emboldened and strengthened by his body count. I understand why this narrative decision was made and why the ending of the film happened, but it still is just off and seems so randomly out of nowhere considering the previous film before this. Of course, Kills was made with a third film Halloween Ends already planned and ordered, so in many ways Halloween Kills suffers from being the bridge film in a trilogy. While definitely entertaining, it is still doing the heavy lifting of being set up for the next film and part of the story.

From this point on, Halloween Kills becomes a bit of a standard slasher film with Michael continuing on with his killing spree while making his way back to his childhood home, and various previously named characters trying to put a stop to his shenanigans with the expected results of being killed in painful, horrific ways. Seriously, many of Myers’s kills go beyond the simple stabbing and are pretty graphic, to the film’s credit and improvement. It very much earned its “R” rating. One particular standout is the killing of Cameron Elam. Character was a douche, but I am not sure his shitty actions merited his specific death sequence. Will never step foot into a chiropractor’s office after seeing that.

Of course, the movie builds to a final climactic standoff between Michael and several vigilante townspeople, and, because there is already a sequel announced, you can guess how that fight ends. The fight is interlaced with a conversation in a hospital recovery room between Laurie and Hawkins. Both have been there for the entirety of the film recovering from their injuries from the previous film. While I understand the complaints about the lack of Laurie Strode taking direct action in this film, I kind of like that she isn’t some sort of superhuman and actually suffers consequences from her choices. She got stabbed in the stomach and required major surgery. You don’t just get up and walk away from that a few hours later unless you’re Michael Myers apparently. Still, the movie ends with one final surprise jump scare and potential kill (I say potential because I thought for sure Hawkins was dead from the last film, so until I see a full confirmation next year, will keep finger crossed and hope alive) setting the stage for the final(?) confrontation between Laurie, Hawkins, and Michael.

She’s coming for you Michael…in about a year or so though.

So, the other major issue many found with the film was the reactions of the townspeople to their situation and how it was an obvious allegory and metaphor to the social political landscape of America which I respond with, “Yeah, and?” Genuinely, media has always been a reflection and criticism of social and political issues, and horror has usually been at the vanguard of that movement. Is it a bit obvious? Yeah, but it hardly bashes you over the head with it nor is it illogical or out of nowhere. The town of Haddonfield reacts with mass paranoia and violence to the reappearance of Michael Myers resulting in the suicide of an innocent(?) felon and various deaths of vigilantes who should not have tried to take the law into their own hands. And yes there are obvious parallels to real world events and movements, but the thing is that the film kind of does a decent job of justifying the citizens’ actions. It doesn’t absolve them of the consequences, especially since most end up very dead, but the film does explain and, in some ways, validate their choices.

After all, the people of Haddonfield have been failed by the system. A medical professional charged by the state with the duty of keeping Michael Myers detained and away was the one who released him back into the world to assuage his own demented curiosities. The entire law enforcement apparatus of this town has utterly failed at keeping the citizens safe and at finding and capturing Michael. Hell, Myers current reign of terror can be traced back to an officer doing the right and lawful thing forty years before, so the very system in place to prevent the horror of men like Myers is indirectly responsible for its continuation. In short, the community and citizens of Haddonfield have been failed repeatedly with seemingly no actual help or hope to stop this illness that has infected their safety. It is in this miasma of paranoia, fear, and trauma that they turn to Tommy Doyle who at least offers some sort of direction and action and purpose beyond simply sitting still and waiting for the system, which has already proven ineffective, to do what it will. Thus, although the film does not condone the vigilante justice taken on by the community, it doesn’t outright condemn it either. The lack of a concrete statement by the film’s narrative may irritate some audiences, but I found it forthright and in keeping with the overall theme and tone of the film.

Ultimately, this movie will be divisive among film, franchise, and horror fans, and for good reason. And, to be honest, it should. It is by no means a bad film by any possible definition, and the issues that audiences have will invite criticism and conversation which is part of what makes media enjoyable. So, it might not be your particular taste, but I think it is definitely worth a watch this Halloween season.

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