How do we deal with 40+ years of shared trauma? That’s both the text and the meta-text for the new slasher Halloween Kills. The film from writer/director David Gordon Green and cowriters Danny McBride and Scott Teems sets out to explore the impact that the boogeyman known as Michael Meyers has had on the small peaceful town of Haddonfield. Picking up mere moments after the previous film in the franchise the movie follows not only our heroic trio of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) but also several disparate groupings of the towns populace as well.
The screenplay is painfully aware of it’s place in history and repeatedly goes to great lengths to let us know everyone in the town has a reason to know of and be afraid of Michael Meyers. He long ago became the embodiment of what’s wrong in small town life. Where the previous film in the franchise deftly wove it’s theme of familial trauma through the ongoing story of Michael and Laurie, this installment feels the need to hammer the point home over and over. That’s not to say that the script is without nuance though. Particularly well done is the thread of Laurie and Deputy Frank Hawkins both wrestling with their personal culpability in light of Michaels recent return.
There’s a lot to like here for fans of this thread of the Halloween canon as well. The kills are plentiful and plenty brutal. There are nods to previous films in the franchise, which aren’t overplayed but let you know that the filmmakers know their history. The re-introduction of not only characters but actors from the first installment is also sure to be rousing to anyone who grew up on the original. The reveal of Leigh Brackett brought forth excited murmurs from the advance audience. Most of the acting is on point as well with Robert Longstreet turning in a fantastic and haunted performance as Lonnie Elam. You can see the weight of history in the mans actions, and he conveys someone caught in the grips of trying to protect the next generation while simultaneously dealing with his own childhood fears once again brought to light.
Overall, even if this doesn’t quite hit the highs of the previous installment, this is far from the least enjoyable film in the franchise overall. While the film is streaming on Peacock, I would recommend seeing it in the theater. The communal excitement of a film like this elevates it to another level as you hear the crowd around you gasp at a particularly nasty kill. The soundtrack as well is wonderful and deserves to be heard at as high a volume as possible with John Carpenter himself returning to duty alongside his son Cody and collaborator Daniel Davies. No matter how you choose to watch, enjoy it, after all, it is Halloween and everyone is entitled to one good scare.