Film Review: Halloween Kills delights in gory nonsense, but none of the atmosphere of its predecessors

As the flashing lights of fire brigades speed past a bruised and bloodied Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) in the opening moments of Halloween Kills, it becomes all too evident that the haunting figure that is Michael Myers is far from vanquished; her desperate screams of “Let him burn” practically beg the oft-called ‘boogeyman’ to emerge from the firey prison that was set for him in the closing seconds of 2018’s Halloween.

Kills being sandwiched between the aforementioned 2018 slasher and next year’s Halloween Ends means there’s a certain unfinished mentality built-in, securing a not-so-satisfying conclusion for the hoards of fans that have been turning up for the Laurie v Michael deathmatch that has, in some form or another, been in play since 1978’s original Halloween.

If you’re confused as to which film is which and what timeline you’re meant to follow, you’re not Kills‘ demographic, and that’s perfectly fine.  There’s a certain audience for these type of films, but even they might feel not wholly satiated with what Kills lays up on the slab.  It doesn’t quite celebrate the series, and the adopted mob chant of “Evil Dies Tonight” isn’t perhaps as stirring as screenwriters David Gordon Green, Danny McBride and Scott Teems intend, but it at least travels in a direction the films haven’t explored – that being of the emotional effect Myers’ brutal history has on his hometown as a whole, as compared to the singular effect on Laurie’s psyche as his prime target.

As the previous film set up Laurie’s temperament as to how she has handled Michael’s legacy all these years – including how it impacted her relationship with both her daughter (Judy Greer) and granddaughter (Andi Matichak) – and the next film looks to investigate a particularly personal dynamic going off the actions laid forth here, Kills opts for barbarity.  Whether it’s the townspeople rallying together to take Michael down – Anthony Michael Hall and Kyle Richards portraying the grown-up counterparts of the young children Laurie protected in the 1978 original – or Michael himself inflicting the most graphic of bloody pain on anyone who dares cross his path – this film certainly indulges in the creativity of what’s possible in physical gore effects – this is a severely nasty film that leans heavy into the cheesy, overly-violent mind-frames of the 1980’s slasher.

A film that delights in its bloody nonsense, Halloween Kills may not evoke the same atmospheric tension as the original, or even the name-same 2018 sequel, but as a slasher film indulging in the simple pleasures the genre is known for, this middle chapter provides enough thrills (however cheap) to ensure our interest in how this series ends doesn’t waver.

THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Halloween Kills is screening in Australian theatres from October 28th, 2021.

Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.

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