Evil Dies Tonight
David Gordon Green
Jamie Lee Curtis
Anthony Michael Hall
Set immediately after the events of Halloween (the frustratingly titled sequel to 1978’s Halloween), we discover Michael Myers is still alive as fire fighters respond to Laurie Strode’s [Lee Curtis] burning residence. He kills them all and continues his rampage. At the same time, Laurie is taken to hospital to be treated for her wounds, believing Michael is dead but when several survivors of the initial killing spree in the 70s – headed by Tommy Doyle [Hall] – learn Myers has returned, they rally a throng of angry citizens to hunt down and kill the murderer.
Picking the story up with the same team ensures a perfect continuity in tone and feeling from the previous instalment. On a positive note that means we’re treated to the same great thundering score, interesting dynamic direction, solid performances and magnificently executed kills. We also continue the grounded, almost Unforgiven style approach to combatting fear, specifically the idea that competence and skill falter in the face of something truly terrifying. Or in other words, when Michael appears people can’t shoot for shit.
Regrettably this returning cast and crew means all my previous grips and frustrations are back. We get the same level of irreverent humour that doesn’t always work, Allyson’s crappy boyfriend is back but given a redemption arc and a strong idea of where it wants to go but meandering to get there. In addition to these issues, Halloween Kills creates more grief for itself due to the lack of a time skip. Progressing the story straight after the 2018 events generates the same limitations and obstacles that something like The Last Jedi faced, as the script has to deal with the consequences of what we’ve just witnessed while lurching everything forward, in essence sort of unwriting the clean denouement. This also means that you can’t have your fairly grounded gritty take with a lacerated Laurie Strode at its centre and hospitalising what every fan considers to be the franchise lead (as well as, let’s face it, the best actor on set) will irk many.
The real polarisation, however, comes from this instalment’s central theme. Halloween 2018 introduced us to a very different Laurie Strode, similar to the version in Halloween H20, she is clearly suffering with PTSD but was more aggressive in her reclusivity and preparedness for attack. Halloween Kills extends that mindset to Michael’s other would-be victims, which is personified in the survivor’s guilt riddled, revenge-driven Tommy Doyle. It’s not just that Tommy is suffering with anxiety but he has developed an inferiority complex stemming from the inability to defend his loved ones from harm as a young child. This then manifests in the adult Tommy, determined to reap street justice and by rallying a mob initially changes the dynamic of the film, with the ensuing chaos feeling like new territory for the decades long franchise. This escalates to scenes reminiscent of Frankenstein as the townsfolk hunt down and pursue another escapee from the bus crash in the previous film, believing he is Michael Myers. While I genuinely enjoyed this analysis on the crippling effect of fear and mob mentality over reason, the film is so wrapped up in this direction that it fails to deliver what many want or expect from a Halloween release.
As a component of a larger story, Halloween Kills serves as an interesting thought experiment littered with some of the most brutal, bloody and violent kills in any Halloween film to date. In essence it is trying to please a number of different audience types but despite all this, it’s still a bridge. The film ends without a satisfying conclusion and more so than its predecessor leans into the reliance of a follow-up, meaning as a standalone it doesn’t pack enough punch to come off as truly memorable or noteworthy. Having said that I would be genuinely curious to see how Halloween Ends brings this narrative to a close and whether those events will serve to elevate what took place in this release.
15 October 2021
The Scene To Look Out For:
The film opens by showing us that Deputy Frank Hawkins [Patton] is heavily wounded but alive. It then details a very interesting through-line which flashes back to immediately after the events of the original Halloween. Myers’ rampage is complete and the police attempt to apprehend him with the help of Dr Loomis. I have to say, these scenes were fantastic. So often these recreations fail to capture the look and atmosphere of the time period but everything about the cinematography and production design is masterfully evocative and bringing Hawkins’ guilt to the surface is a truly interesting angle.
Once again Judy Greer and Jamie Lee Curtis remain standout. The dynamic between mother and daughter continues to captivate and both being the voice of reason in the frenzy is wonderful. Another decent minor performance comes from Patton as Hawkins. When he and Laurie console one another, they both take turns blaming themselves for Michael’s actions before concluding that he is simply a force of evil and neither of them are to blame. This is actually a great bit of writing and really speaks to how survivors of trauma see the world and the events inflicted upon them.
“People are afraid. That is the true curse of Michael. You can’t defeat it with brute force”
In A Few Words:
“As with 2018’s Halloween, this story doesn’t come close to the heights of the original and doesn’t do much to surpass the other sequels but for all its missteps, it’s clearly trying something novel and should be commended for that”
Total Score: 2/5