‘Halloween Kills’ goes big on spooky nostalgia, thrills in lieu of story progression


Photo from Universal

Halloween Kills brings Michael Meyers back for yet another frightful showing.

Owen Conway, Staff Writer

Over 40 years ago, horror was changed forever when 1978’s “Halloween” introduced the world to Michael Myers, one of the most chilling and iconic villains the genre has ever seen. Donning an unnervingly simple white mask and a mechanic’s coveralls, the boogeyman of Haddonfield, Illinois has been haunting the fictional town’s residents and the dreams of real-life moviegoers for decades. In the newest installment of the franchise, “Halloween Kills,” the superhuman killer Michael Myers continues his reign of terror in a familiarly thrilling fashion, but how much can nonstop slasher suspense progress a plotline spanning 12 movies? 

The movie begins in a flashback, casting a vintage film grain over the night of the events of the first film, and follows deputy Frank Hawkins as he accidentally kills his partner in an attempt to save him from Michael Myers and then prevents Dr. Sam Loomis from killing Michael. From this callback to the original “Halloween,” the film jumps to the present-day, where more familiar faces from the original movie celebrate the 40th anniversary of Michael’s imprisonment. 

This opening sequence – with its mix of old-school flashbacks and a look at the now grown-up survivors from the first film and new characters mingling with them –  immediately establishes a strong sense of nostalgia for the franchise and makes the viewer excited to be watching the film. It deftly portrays how far the characters have come without going into elaborate backstories spanning 40 years, and breathes a bit of realism into a franchise that has long suffered from over-the-top, cash-grab sequels. 

But the happiness can’t last, and the townsfolk are horrified to learn that Michael Myers is back on the hunt once again, despite his sister and lifelong foe, Laurie Strode’s, best efforts to kill him for good. Michael emerges from a flaming building, somehow alive, and the killing spree ensues – he fights off several firefighters in brutal fashion, robs a local home for weapons and taunts the townsfolk hunting him down with his disturbing brand of seemingly disappearing and reappearing at will (while racking up some entertainingly absurd kills along the way). 

This reliance on playing to the adoration of the original movie proceeds to drive the entire plot of “Halloween Kills beyond just the opening scenes and masks the lack of attempt to push the story forward in a meaningful way. The movie splits its time between Laurie Strode recovering in a hospital where order quickly breaks down at the news that Michael will likely head there to find her, and the rest of Haddonfield being scanned by numerous search parties looking for Michael. 

This setup does a good job of bringing Haddonfield and its citizens to life, offering a believable portrayal of what the chaos and fear of such a situation would look like. But other than that, it’s more of the same “Halloween formula: Michael Myers is back; you thought you killed him last time, but you’ll try again this time; and he’ll win again in the end. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because that “Halloween formula is a proven winning one. However, if Laurie Strode and company finally succeed at vanquishing Michael in the next movie, it will be long overdue.