Look, it’s not that slasher movies are bad, it’s just that we’ve grown out of them.
I’m going right into this without a real introduction because the Halloween series is, for better or worse, its own reference. That’s what happens when you drag on a series for 40 years that’s based on a character meant for 3 movies at most.
Halloween Kills takes place immediately after 2018’s Halloween, which is great because it ignores the many terrible Halloween spinoffs, so the only familiarity you need to have with the series in order to watch it is the original and the predecessor. This iteration sees Laurie Strode in the hospital after the events of the previous film and Michael Meyers continuing to wreak havoc on the same small Illinois town where he once terrorized last generation’s babysitters. Only this time, Haddonfield is fighting back. Will they succeed in finally killing Michael???
The answer is of course not, we need to make more sequels. Where 2018’s Halloween felt like both tribute and vengeance, Halloween Kills feels like a desperate plea to the audience to take slasher movies as seriously as we used to, cheapening not only the series, but the entire genre as a result. The clever reversals of final girl rules written into the 2018 version have been replaced with the worst returns to genre form. You know: “Let me put down my shotgun to see if that very clearly dead person is okay.”
David Gordon Green and Danny McBride’s writing keeps things from dipping into complete uselessness. Comedy and horror are more similar than they are different, and the rhythm of dialogue and characterization they accomplish is fun to watch (though it is weird that they seem to have an easier time characterizing bit players doomed to Michael’s knife than any of the leads). Where they fail, though, is in their thin attempt to update the horror of what Michael Meyers represents. Which is, after all, the goddamn point of Halloween. Their “it’s like, society, man,” approach is too light to function thematically, and so timid that it’s frustrating to watch.
Michael Meyers is a classic horror villain because he is particular to a specific time and place. The America that produced him was in the middle of what was, in hindsight, a serial killer epidemic. John Carpenter characterized the nationwide dread of the Night Stalkers and Golden State Killers of the country better than any other slasher of the day in Michael—faceless, wordless, a void where a person should be, the blank and silent template we’re incapable of filling in when we hear the killer did this to the victim’s eyes, and that to her throat, because any motive for doing those things is too foreign for a healthy mind to comprehend.
Today’s violent crime has no mythmaking or mystique behind it. Our killers are mass shooters and the severely mentally ill—people who get one big crime in before they’re stopped, the events televised every step of the way. We have, as a society, been disillusioned. The suburban neighborhood stopped being idyllic a long time ago, and psychotic home invaders are no longer the fear of the day. Halloween Kills is above all an unintentionally grim reminder that today we’re governed by larger, more complicated terrors. Terrors that Michael Meyers, nightmare though he is, is no longer equipped to embody.
5/10. +5 for being a good slasher movie. -5 for being a good slasher movie in a world that has no use for slasher movies.