Rated R for all the mass murder going on. There have been criticisms that Michael acts more like Jason with his sheer body count in this one. I never really knew that there was a difference. But there's some pretty gnarly violence in here, bordering on torture. Michael really seems to enjoy what he does on a scope that maybe I forgot about. Of course, there's language and alcohol abuse, but that seems pretty mild if you are okay with watching some pretty brutal gore. R.
DIRECTOR: David Gordon Green
I have to admit, I wasn't in the Halloween spirit this year. I'm not talking about the franchise. For a guy who was pretty aggressively Halloween in the past, this year it just seems like a burden. A lot of that comes from the snob in me. It seems so basic to preach how Halloween is your favorite season. But that was me. How can I throw stones? But I did want to watch Halloween Kills, despite my mildly lackluster reception to David Gordon Green's previous Halloween entry. (Note: It is impossible to call anything just Halloween anymore.) It didn't hurt that it was on Peacock and that went a long way. But it also got lukewarm reviews...
...and that's when I remembered how much I like a good Halloween movie. Halloween Kills might be one of the more undervalued entries in the franchise. I know that people wanted a second reboot and were excited to know that this was going to retcon all of the other movies. It would have gone from the 1978 Halloween to a real-time sequel with David Gordon Green's entry. But I found that movie dull because I didn't do anything all that new and different with the exception of making Michael Myers an octogenarian. It was the old Michael and Laurie dynamic that so many movies in the franchise capitalized on and that Jamie Lee Curtis has made a career out of. But Halloween Kills did something very different for me and I absolutely loved it. I was nervous for a lot of it, so please be patient for trying to explain my thought process about it. But the final result of the film may make Halloween Kills my second favorite Halloween movie.
The thing about the classic slasher movie is that there isn't much that one can do with sequels that doesn't get goofy. These movies become about cults, space, or found footage concepts that completely make these films inaccessible to the average viewer. The protagonist for these films was always meant to be our avatar. Laurie Strode in Halloween was innocent and honest. We wanted to be Laurie, which made her such a powerhouse to root for. But there's only so much good will that an audience can give before there needs to be a change. After all, as much as sequels are supposed to capture the joy of the first film, they are also meant to progress and take chances. Halloween Kills might be the first horror sequel to completely change the formula of the slasher film. While I can't deny that Michael Myers is still the antagonist of the film, the movie cares less about Michael's horror based killing spree. The movie cares more about how we react to tragedy in both healthy and unhealthy ways.
David Gordon Green's Michael, in this movie, is almost a hurricane. He's out there and people feel helpless. Maybe a more apt idea is that Michael is a terrorist action against the United States. Michael has been the source of trauma for the citizens of Haddonfield for 40 years. I often think about 9/11 and how we said that terrorism wasn't going to let it beat us. There was this swell of patriotism that may or may not have devolved into nationalism. It came from this blind anger and this addiction to the notion that we were always morally right, despite the fact that we did these morally abhorrent things both domestically and internationally. When people wanted to find healthy responses to trauma, many people in this country got really angry and decided it was up to mob rule to try to grasp onto that false sense of patriotism. That's what Halloween Kills is. Now, from what I understand, Halloween Kills has been in the can for a while. It was one of those movies that was affected by Covid. But it was also made during the Trump administration, so the seeds of January 6 were there all along.
I was thinking what it must have been like to be Tommy Doyle as a 40-something man. He lived through this traumatic experience and knew people that died absolutely horrific deaths. Then the entire thing started over again and he wanted to grow from his mistakes. There's this line that Tommy tells Laurie about the notion that Laurie protected him and that it was his turn to return the favor. That's an extremely logical and heroic answer. The problem is, that's kind of the view of "The Patriot" in America right now. Tommy had spent the last 40 years in Haddonfield living off of the emotional understanding of what happened to him when he was a kid. He didn't become a Michael Myers expert. He didn't study psychology or work to the betterment of institutionalism. No, he simply wallowed in a trauma that barely affected him. He lived off of that vicarious trauma and manifested it as his own. While Tommy had some kind of right to be outraged, his emotions were contagious. With that, it's haunting how Tommy Doyle stood in for the march on the Capitol on January 6.
It all started with this contagious propaganda. For the case of Tommy Doyle, it was the chants of "Evil Dies Tonight." There's nothing complex in that statements. I'm sure that no one could even slightly disagree with the notion that evil must die. But the notion of evil is such a black-and-white attitude that it rests undefined. Rather than actually making a plan to save people from Myers, it became this bloodlust and a need for satisfaction. It became about doing things the easy way. When the other asylum escapee shows up looking for help at the hospital and the riot that occurred, Tommy ends up leading a lynch mob against a problem that they could handle. In the same way that 9/11 was a geo-political problem that demanded nuance instead of lashing out at Muslims and people from the Middle East, the people of Haddonfield strike out at any perceived threat, even if that threat was laughable. Casting that gentleman as the proxy Michael Myers was a work of genius. He demonstrates how quickly we are to have answers, even if logic is staring us directly in the face.
Now, for a second, I was really concerned about the ending of this movie. Karen (perhaps poorly named) betrays her fundamentals and leads a posse to round up Michael. It seems successful considering that that this happens well into the final act. Considering that the movie rails against mob violence, it's odd to think that this attack on Michael works. I mean, it's cathartic from a horror perspective. The monster needs to get his just desserts. But it is in the notion that Michael gets up because he's something more and something greater kind of solves that story for me. I normally hate when the slasher becomes the monster of myth. Lots of sequels play that card as an excuse to bring back the bad guy who clearly is dead. But David Gordon Green clearly states his thesis in the voiceover. Michael Myers isn't a man. He's our own evil and our worst tendencies brought out. We can't fight that kind of problem with violence. It has to be about something greater. We can't attack terrorism or evil with brute force. Michael is brute force. By becoming the very thing we rally against, that's when we lose. From my perspective, we lost the whole 9/11 thing when we started turning on people and stopped acting as the model for the world of peace and harmony. Attacking the Capitol because an election didn't turn out the way people wanted it to is the end to democracy. It's the stuff that we used to look down in third-world countries.
So Laurie never meets Michael in this one? Good. We've seen that story enough times. Instead, Karen gets herself killed because she betrays her good conscience. Sure, she did it because she's a mother. I respect that. It's plausible. But it also is a commentary on the seduction of evil. Karen, all bedecked in a Christmas sweater, meets her end because, like Moses, she taps on the rock twice. It seems minor, her sin. But she ignored what her better nature told her and I love that. I honestly hope that the final entry in this trilogy is in the far future and we still haven't learned our mistake. Maybe Halloween Ends will be a story about how Michael ended everything. It may not end with the death of Michael Myers, but with Michael left with nothing to kill because we're all Michael Myers.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.