“The more he kills, the more he transcends.”
HALLOWEEN KILLS (2021)
To say I was looking forward to Halloween Kills would be a mass understatement. It was set in stone to be my movie of the year in 2020. Then Covid hit, so it became destined to be my movie of 2021. Why? Because I love a good franchise slasher and I have been starving for a very long time. For proper context, I am a Friday the 13th guy. The Halloween franchise is actually my least favorite franchise of the Big 3. I am not a Michael guy. But dammit, he is the only one putting out content at the moment. So I have no choice but to Stan. Also, the thought of ramping up the gore and carnage Jason-style was only gonna get me more hyped. So, I have been hyped for this movie since the end credits of Halloween (2018). Was I satisfied?
I love David Gordon Green as a director. He is about as versatile as a director can get. The only thing Pineapple Express, Halloween (2018) and Joe have in common is that they are great. Halloween Kills is also great. I’d even say it contends with Joe as his best directed film. He still uses the Carpenter template making it perfect companion sequel to ‘78 and ‘18, but also putting his own stamp on it. Some of the best visuals of the entire 12 film franchise can be found here. The scene of Michael leaving the inferno that is in all the promotional material will stick with me until my heart beats its final beat. That’s not even the best sequence in the movie. There is a flashback sequence, that when it popped off my jaw literally dropped and it stayed down for the entire sequence. Some masterful horror filmmaking on display here. I won’t give away too much detail here but Michael final rampage at the end is one of the best conceived visuals sequences in a slasher film ever. The way it is shot and edited made it wholly unique and special. It tells an entire story within itself and it’s a beautiful and dark one. He brought his all to this work and I hope that gets recognized by everyone. Even those who weren’t feeling this story. Speaking of which.
I don’t really want public opinion to cloud this review or any review I do, but a popular criticism I have seen against this movie is that it has no plot, it’s all scenes setting up murder and carnage. One, welcome to the slasher genre, have a seat. Two, this is categorically false. The plot is within its theme, how trauma affects a town. This works cohesively with the theme of ‘18, which was about how trauma affects a family generationally. I love this idea for a slasher film so much. Not only does it open the door for the kills, which slasher fans crave, but it’s something relatively new. It takes a throwaway z-plot of Halloween 4 and expands upon it and gives it more meaning. Every scene in this movie in some way connects to a larger plot. It’s a hunt for Michael Myers and Haddenfeild is the battlefield. The battle is for the soul of this city against pure evil. Yes, there are other themes at play here that are as about as subtle as brick to the face. The Mob Mentality hospital scene, while unsubtle, has more meat on its bones than most slashers. I also personally thought it was an effective and entertaining scene. There is far more plot here than I was expecting or needed to be happy. So color me impressed. There is even some set up and payoffs, (the pitchfork). For a slasher film this is really great screenwriting. That’s not a knock at my favorite genre, it’s just the truth.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
This movie deserves all the stars in the world because it does not do the cardinal sin of slasher films and have unbearably unlikable characters you can’t wait to see die. Are some (most) of these characters dumb as hell? Yes. But I liked everybody in the movie which added some weight to their eventual deaths. Big John and Little John were the standouts. They were perfectly humorous and likable. Jamie Lee Curtis once again does a wonderful job as Laurie Strode. Anthony Michael Hall gives the definitive Tommy Doyle performance (sorry, Paul Rudd). Judy Greer is also really really good here. Everybody does a damn good job with the material. Yes, some lines are hokey and campy, but it’s a slasher film. I don’t want nor need Tarantino dialogue here. The actors play it completely sincere which helps the audience go along with the silly material. Also, not for nothing James Jude Courtney is the best version of The Shape. Menacing, scary and otherworldly.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Oh Tom Savini would love the effects work in this movie. So much blood and gore and very little of it was CGI. It was practical and I was in gore heaven. The aforementioned house fire sequence was done as practically as possible and the payoff is astounding. It felt gritty and raw. The design of The Shape’s mask is also perfect. Just the little touches helped give it a new definition and character. They didn’t go overboard. They changed it just enough and lit it just perfectly to where we never see those eyes. The flashback sequence mask was astonishingly well crafted as well. The entire flashback sequence in general is an ode to spectacular filmmaking. The attention to detail highlights how much everybody working on this movie cared not only for the original 1978 movie, but the one they were working on.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
John Carpenter did a score in 2021. Guess what, it’s the score of the year. Not all credit can go to John Carpenter. No, his son and godson deserve some too. From the first second of the movie you are told this score is gonna be something special and it never lets up. The opening credits themselves are spectacular and the new arrangement of the Halloween theme may be my favorite version. I can’t speak highly enough of this score and it was a nice reminder that the bulk of horror scores today suck and should be better. You can strive for this level of awesome too.
Look, I adored this movie. I got exactly what I wanted out of this movie and then some. I got some great kills from an iconic slasher. Some characters and themes for me to latch onto and care about. It was just about as perfect a slasher movie as you can get. One of the best times I have had in a theater since Halloween (2018). Yes, there are flaws to be found here. But to me, it’s nothing I haven’t seen done a million times worse in other places. It’s a movie I am going to hold dear for several years moving forward. In this day and age when movies (especially horror) just come and go, it’s nice when one comes around that will stay with you. I eagerly await Halloween Ends and I can’t wait to chant “Evil Dies Tonight!” again and again.
HALLOWEEN KILLS is NOW PLAYING in Cinemas | Peacock