Halloween Kills

Halloween Kills ★★★★

In Rick Rosenthal's Halloween II, we're treated to multiple sequences of Michael stalking the neighborhoods of Haddonfield, creeping down alleys, peeking into windows, terrorizing countless innocents. I've often thought you could make a great Halloween sequel by expanding those sequences into a full feature. No plot, no lore, no traditional horror movie structure, just the boogeyman doing his thing and leaving a deluge of viscera in his wake. But they'd never do that, right? There's a whole Strode Family Trauma trilogy to finish out! Yet while that's not exclusively what David Gordon Green does here, I was surprised by how closely the end result hewed to what I was privately wishing it could be. The amount of carnage and cannon fodder is staggering and totally lives up to the movie's title. Halloween? Yeah, it fucking Kills.

There are enough different continuities in this franchise that you have to put yourself in the correct frame of mind for any given sequel. When I watch John Carpenter's original, that's the only one that exists. Laurie was truly never Michael's sister, but I even buy into that tenuous idea while Halloween II and Halloween H20 are on, because why not? They're great movies in their own right, and there's no need to stay hung up on one plot point. Though I prefer the H20 iteration of Laurie Years Later, Jamie Lee Curtis is a powerhouse in Green’s previous entry; she brings so much gravity to the role that each performance becomes singular. I have room in my heart for all Lauries, just like I have room in my heart for all Halloweens. But I love how boldly Laurie gets sidelined here—make no mistake, this is not Halloween II H20 2018 Deux—not because I wanted less of the character, but rather because I wanted more of everything else, and I got it.

The protagonist of Halloween Kills is Haddonfield itself, a micro proxy for macro society. Every scene finds the locals regurgitating the story of October 31, 1978, re-mythologizing the havoc of The Night He Came Home in real time, obsessed with revisiting and reliving every minute detail, just like the sequels themselves. There's no way to escape the shadow of the first movie, so Green fully embraces it, roping in all sorts of familiar faces and doing painstaking work to evoke Carpenter in what I can only refer to as "brand-new deleted scenes from Halloween ‘78." Filmmakers keep revisiting Halloween because it Shaped them. It shaped Tommy Doyle and company too, and in Halloween Kills we're given all-too-familiar images of mob violence as a result. There are correct circumstances for that sort of uprising, but that's not what this is. "Hurt people hurt people," they say, and we've seen it in action with the Strode family, but Michael has inflicted cycles of violence and trauma upon so many more.

Green and Danny McBride seem dedicated to their films remaining true to the original conceit, so when the trailers for Halloween Kills started to hit, and we caught glimpses of Laurie monologuing about Michael Myers being a literal, ultimate Evil, I became skeptical. If they confirm that he's a supernatural entity, isn't that a bit antithetical to their bit? In context, I had no such questions. Laurie's parroting the same story Loomis told himself to make sense of what's happening, and bodies are going to continue dropping regardless, because Michael isn't Evil. Michael isn't anything. Michael is randomness, Michael is chance. Michael is the cold, uncaring universe, the worst possible outcome of anyone's fate. Michael is a metaphor, and when anyone fully engages with him as an idea, it destroys them.

You see it in Lovecraft and in other Carpenter films, you see it in fanaticism gone awry almost every day in 2021. As John Goodman says in Kevin Smith's Red State, "People just do the strangest things when they believe they're entitled. But they do even stranger things when they just plain believe." Like Laurie's story, the mask is a symbol, and when the mask comes off, they don't see Evil, they see their own reflection. And they can't kill the boogeyman.

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