HomeMovies'Halloween Kills' Successfully Rewrites a Key Element of the Franchise

‘Halloween Kills’ Successfully Rewrites a Key Element of the Franchise

James Jude Courtney as Michael Myers in HALLOWEEN KILLS
Photo Courtesy of Universal Pictures

It’s not surprising that Halloween Kills tells us mobs are full of stupid people with delusions of grandeur, but it is surprising is that Laurie Strode (Jaime Lee Curtis), the franchise’s longstanding hero, is not immune from this criticism. She’s not retconned into some wholly inept fool, just a woman with weaknesses that come out swinging when she’s stuck in a hospital and her worst nightmare has come true. But as sympathetic as her position is, she’s not the superhuman center of Michael Myers’ (Primarily James Jude Courtney, sometimes Nick Castle) world that she thinks she is. Michael isn’t coming after her, and a random syringe to “make the pain go away” won’t overcome her injuries. 

So, when word spreads that Michael is in the hospital (he isn’t), Laurie is indistinguishable from the crowd. What she thinks is an impassioned pursuit of her nemesis is, instead, an injured 60-year-old woman angrily hobbling with the help of her daughter, Karen (Judy Greer). Even when Laurie learns the man they’re chasing isn’t Michael, she’s as indistinguishable to the crowd as before, like a pebble trying to stop a flood. 

Only a few in the flood have an actual “relationship” to Michael. But those that do aren’t very different from Laurie. Through flashbacks to that night in 1978, we learn Officer Hawkins (Will Patton in the present, Thomas Mann in the past) also sees Michael as his nemesis, just like Laurie. He thinks it’s his fault Michael is out there, his fault Michael’s alive, and that it’s his responsibility to kill The Boogeyman. 

Halloween (2018) left room for interpretation regarding Michael’s relationship with Laurie. No, they’re not siblings, but one could enjoy the film thinking Michael was just as much Laurie’s nemesis as he is hers. Halloween Kills tells us Laurie’s feelings just aren’t reciprocated.

So, while two crippled senior citizens debate who needs to kill the living manifestation of evil, Michael expresses his artistic side. It’s a side expressed in Halloween’s 1978 and 2018, but Kills shows him in his pure “process”. After mortally crippling older couple, Sondra and Phil (Diva Tyler and Lenny Clarke), Michael uses Phil’s corpse as a new canvas, selectively placing knives in his back as a dying Sondra watches helplessly. In this scene, Michael feels freed from the constraints of life-or-death tension, showing what he does with bodies when they’re not fighting for their lives. He’s not performing a ritual, he doesn’t pull out a map or checklist that relates to a “‘Must Kill Laurie” goal. 

His other kills and art projects are no less horrifying. From gouging a man’s eyes out (in a way that resembles the face melting from Raiders of The Lost Ark) to holding a bloody child’s mask, Kills is full of gut-churning imagery from Michael that changes the world of the people around him. But whatever scars he leaves on survivors and loved ones, he’s making art, with a simple, focused disregard for anyone trying to stop him. 

When first announced, trilogy closer Halloween Ends was to be shot right after Kills. There are many ways the trilogy can end, but this critic’s prediction is that the film will be a straight drama. This prediction could very well be wrong, and even if it’s right, the film may not handle it well. But Kills does such an incredible job with Michael, serving as a testament to his unstoppable brutality, that making Ends a drama would put writer-director David Gordon Green’s money where his mouth is on how “violence doesn’t solve anything” and the folly of Laurie’s arrogance. 

This is, again, just a prediction. But a shift in tone like that being as coherent as it is is a testament to how well Kills uses Michael. We see him at his purest, his most violent, and this as far as violence can take these characters. 

Of course, it’s unfair to try and base a film’s merits on a movie that hasn’t come out yet, so we’ll have to see in a year from now if that’s the case. In the meantime, Halloween Kills’ great tension and over-the-top violence should satisfy audiences in need of a spooky slasher this time of year. 

Halloween Kills is now playing in theaters and available to stream on Peacock Premium.



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