Sunday, October 31, 2021

Evil Dies Tonight: Halloween Kills (2021)

Halloween Kills (2021)
Rating: ***
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer and Andi Matichak

Previously on Halloween (2018); Michael Myers, after 40 years in captivity for the killings he committed that one night he came home, escapes once again after his transport bus somehow ended up crashing. Making his way back to his home town of Haddonfield, he starts another wave of (more brutal) murders until he comes face to face with Laurie Strode, a survivor from his previous slaughter spree who have been preparing for his return since. Rigging her house into a giant trap, Laurie, along with her daughter Karen and granddaughter Allyson, fights the boogeyman off long enough before the house's mechanism triggers, barring him inside while the home sets itself on fire.

Last time we see Michael, he's staring back at these women as they make their escape while the entire place go ablaze, leaving him to a fate unknown...

Halloween Kills (2021) picks up moments after all of that excitement, with Laurie getting whisked to a nearby hospital by her remaining family to get her wounds stabilized, unbeknownst to them all that the inferno they created to send Michael Myers to hell was called upon by some concerned neighbors, sending first responders to put it out. Michael, ever the opportunist, murders his way out of the house, slaughters the rest of the firemen despite being outnumbered and goes on his merry way depopulating the town of Haddonfield as usual. 

Somewhere else in town, a bar have middle-aged Tommy Doyle retelling the night Michael returned to Haddonfield back at '78 and expresses how the murders this madman committed more or less shaped the community, a sentiment he is very close to considering he was the young boy Laurie Strode was babysitting the night she was originally attacked forty years ago. So when he learns that murders have been popping up left and right around the streets once again, Tommy suspects Michael has returned and he, along with a few other Michael Myers survivors that just happens to be there, leads a vigilante mob to take out boogeyman for good. 

Of course, things are easier said than done as Michael continues to lay waste to whoever just happens to be in the way. Allyson and her mother Karen, upon learning of Michael's survival, are torn to what to do next; Allyson wants to join the vigilante mob to put an end to big guy, while Karen wants the police to take care of it by setting up a parameter around the hospital, fearing Michael is heading there. In the end, things will just go for the worse, but that wouldn't stop Allyson, Laurie, Tommy and the rest of Haddonfield to try and make sure 'Evil Dies Tonight!"

Halloween Kills (2021) is unquestionably one of the odder entries to be made for the entire franchise, wherein it does so many things but accomplishing very little; for one, there really isn't much of a coherent story to tell here, juggling its focus from one set of characters to the next while interjecting scenes involving Michael Myers being a much more brutal boogeyman than before. It doesn't really help that only a few characters were made interesting (adorable gay couple Big John and Little John who now resides in the Myers house, Sheriff Hawkins surviving the murder attempt against him and finally having to sweet talk Laurie Strode as they both recover) while the rest falls short on getting one-note characterizations. (Adult Tommy Doyle is angry. Allyson is angry. Karen is a mom who still hadn't learned to not undermine Michael's madness, etc.)

An attempt on lore and morality play were even made here, stemming from an entire scene involving an escaped mental patient from the prior film's bus crash getting mistaken for Michael Myers. The scene is infamous for how unnecessary it is, a misplaced subplot about the dangers of mob mentality as, tired of Michael Myer's terror, the people of Haddonfield starts rooting for Tommy Doyle to end the evil and this sends them into a frightened yet frenzied state which they unfortunately unleashed upon an unsuspecting victim who just wanted their help; this would have worked in any other movie, one that is showing the inner horrors of being human, but this is a Halloween movie and we already have an active threat: Michael Myers. The mob scene just undermines his identity as the main villain and it trying to lore it all out by implying Michael caused this falls flat on the fact it just sounded too convenient and contrived.

So weird plotting, pandering fan service and mostly uninteresting characters aside, is there anything Halloween Kills did right? Yes, and it is the kills; frankly, this is the most savage I've seen Michael Myers get since Rob Zombie did the two hicksploitation Halloween films as The Shape easily murders his way through anyone he can grab hold to. There's a strong intensity in his body language and the amount of brutish strength and bloodletting here just shows he isn't holding back anymore. If there's anything I could compare this movie to, it is the Hatchet 2 (2010) of Halloween (2018), less of a story but more on gratuitous kills and some attempt on an in-universe mythos as, in the end, it seems to imply that Michael has reached a level of transcendence wherein he might not even have the capability of dying anymore at this point.  

Honestly, Halloween Kills (2021) is alright but it definitely could have been better. Way better. It has ideas, juicy kills and unexpected mythos in the works, but the execution of it all felt lackluster and more of a teaser of things to come. This said, here's hoping it bridges well towards its finale, Halloween Ends, and that this modern Michael Myers saga improves! 

1 male shot on the neck, bled to death (flashback)
1 male hacked in the face with a Halligan bar
1 male killed offscreen
1 male stabbed in the eye with a Halligan bar
1 male brained with a Halligan bar
1 male jabbed in the face with a Halligan bar
1 male impaled and lifted through the gut with a Halligan bar
1 male sliced down with a rotary saw
4 males slaughtered offcamera, bodies later seen 
1 elderly male pulled neck first into a broken window shard, repeatedly stabbed with knives
1 boy murdered offcamera, bloodied mask seen
1 elderly female knifed to death
1 male knifed in the eye
1 female had a gun knocked back to her face, shot
1 male stabbed in the side with a knife, eyes thumbed
1 male stabbed to death offscreen with knives
1 male jumped to his death
1 male murdered offcamera, body later found stuffed in an attic door
1 male repeatedly knifed, head twisted
1 elderly male had his throat cut with a knife
1 male knifed in the throat
1 male had his heel cut with a knife, presumably killed
1 male had his arm broken, presumably killed
1 male had his neck cut with a knife
1 victim slashed with a knife
1 female knifed in the back
1 male seen knifed through an arm, presumably killed
1 male slashed across the back with a knife
1 male knifed in the chest, brained with a bat
1 female knifed to death
Total: 33*

*Note: I'm only counting confirmable onscreen kills here, so I'm not going to count the entire mob surrounding Michael at the near end. I'm sure a few of them have enough brain cells to make a run for it once the table turned against them as Mikey starts slaughtering everyone near him...

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