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Blu-ray Review: Halloween Kills

January 12, 2022

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

Halloween Kills is technically the twelfth film in the slasher movie franchise (counting the two Rob Zombie remakes), but chronologically it follows the surprisingly good 2018 legacy sequel Halloween, which was itself a direct continuation of John Carpenter’s 1978 original.

Like the 2018 film, Halloween Kills is once again directed by David Gordon Green, and it has a lot to live up to in terms of continuing the new story set up in that decades later sequel, which ignored plot details from the other franchise entries in order to forge its own path forward. As such, Halloween Kills is only mildly successful.

It functions as an okay (and very bloody) slasher, but doesn’t reach the heights of either of its direct predecessors, with the story beginning right where the 2018 film ended. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is en route to the hospital with her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), having survived the latest Halloween night killing spree of Michael Myers, with the masked assailant now burning to a crisp in her basement. Or is he?

As Laurie is being taken to the hospital, Michael escapes from the burning house to continue his massacre, determined to tie up loose ends. Through this, Green (who co-wrote the script with Danny McBride and Scott Teems) brings back a variety of characters from the 1978 original, including the kids that Laurie was babysitting, Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) and Lindsey Wallace (Kyle Richards), and Michael’s old nurse Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens), to explore how the town of Haddonfield is facing their collective trauma from that night forty years earlier.

This is not a bad premise and, at its basest level, Halloween Kills does deliver the gory kills that the series is known for, with a visceral brutality to much of it. If gnarly kills are all you are looking for, this movie delivers. But it’s not as solid overall as the 2018 film. The plot feels messier and less focused as it branches off into a number of subplots involving thinly written side characters, with inconsistent dialogue and Laurie frustratingly confined to the hospital for much of it.

The film also bites off a bit more than it can chew when trying to introduce some deeper themes about mass hysteria, the formation of mobs, and how mob rule can cause good people to do evil things. With Michael on the loose, the public panics, allowing Tommy to form a violent mob whose rallying cry of “evil dies tonight” signifies their salacious bloodlust. This leads to a very unsettling sequence at the hospital, but Green stops short of truly grappling with these ideas.

The film does deliver some impressively staged flashbacks to 1978 featuring Jim Cummings and Thomas Mann as cops, which retcon a few elements but are pulled off with a great eye for detail by Green and his production team. There is some decent cinematography by Michael Simmonds, and we also get another unsettling synth score by John Carpenter, his son Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies, that builds upon and reworks the iconic original theme.

But the film as a whole ends up feeling a bit basic, playing out more like a collection of fan service moments and brutal kills one after another. Which is fine, in theory, but I wanted more. Halloween Kills ultimately feels very much like a middle chapter, simply designed to keep the momentum going from the first film and set things up for the big finale. It doesn’t all work on its own, but is also the sort of film that will likely need to be reevaluated as part of the whole trilogy when Halloween Ends gets released later this year, which I’m still hoping will be a banger.

Bonus Features (Blu-ray):

The Blu-ray includes both the theatrical version of the film and an “extended cut” that adds an extra scene at the end, which isn’t entirely needed but provides a nice little coda to lead into the final movie. It’s backed up by a decent assortment of bonus material. A regular DVD and code for a digital copy are also included in the package, which ships with an embossed slipcover.

Gag Reel (3 minutes, 12 seconds): Typical footage of the cast goofing off and messing up their lines. Your enjoyment will depend on how much you enjoy gag reels.

Deleted and Extended Scenes (3 minutes, 21 seconds)

Allyson Meets Brackett (31 seconds)

Sondra’s Drone Finds The Shape (1 minute, 48 seconds)

Protestors Rock Outside Hospital (1 minute)

Haddonfield’s Open Wounds (7 minutes, 15 seconds): Looks at building upon the first film, and bringing back a variety of old characters from the town.

The Kill Team (11 minutes, 2 seconds): Looks at what went into bringing several of the film’s set-pieces to the screen, and the practical gore effects that were used for some of the most brutal kills.

Strode Family Values (3 minutes, 37 seconds): Explores the three generations of Strode women, and how the film continues their story.

1978 Transformations (5 minutes, 50 seconds): A fascinating look at how they faithfully recreated elements of the 1978 film for the flashback sequence, including bringing back one iconic character using makeup and the set’s construction manager.

The Power of Fear (4 minutes, 28 seconds): A brief overview of the themes of mob rule and mass hysteria in the film.

Kill Count (53 seconds): A highlight reel of all the brutal kills in the film, with an onscreen counter.

Feature Commentary by Director/Co-Writer David Gordon Green and Stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Judy Greer

Halloween Kills is a Universal Pictures Home Entertainment release. It’s 105 minutes and rated 18A.

Street Date: January 11th, 2022

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