[Beyond Fest 2021 Review] HALLOWEEN KILLS


[Beyond Fest 2021 Review] HALLOWEEN KILLS
Courtesy Blumhouse & Universal Pictures
With the success of 2018’s Halloween, fans have been chomping at the bit for the highly anticipated sequel, HALLOWEEN KILLS. However, after a worldwide pandemic pushed all theatrical releases to the backburner, many were left wondering when the sequel would see the light of day. Now that time has come and fans will finally be able to see evil rise again when HALLOWEEN KILLS hits theaters and Peacock on October 15th.

To keep from spoiling anything, I’ll turn to the official synopsis: “Minutes after Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) left masked monster Michael Myers caged and burning in Laurie’s basement, Laurie is rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, believing she finally killed her lifelong tormentor. But when Michael manages to free himself from Laurie’s trap, his ritual bloodbath resumes. As Laurie fights her pain and prepare to defend herself against him, she inspires all of Haddonfield to rise up against their unstoppable monster.

HALLOWEEN KILLS was an unexpected surprise for this critic. Having been underwhelmed with the 2018 remake, I went in with very tempered expectations. And in doing so, it resulted in an entertaining viewing experience. Is it perfect? Far from it, as it rides a thin line of being too campy, but even still, HALLOWEEN KILLS has enough meat on its bones to make even the most die-hard Halloween fan happy.

The acting really takes this film on a rollercoaster ride, with performances going every which way. Jamie Lee Curtis will forever be the baddest bitch and, once again, showcases the immense strength and determination that a Strode possesses. Anthony Michael Hall is a great addition to the film taking on the role of adult Tommy Doyle, and though he gives an exaggerated performance, I loved every minute of it. HALLOWEEN KILLS really falls upon the shoulders of Judy Greer who shines bright in the film both literally, in her festive Christmas sweater, and figuratively. The only character that seems to be a struggle to connect with is Allyson – whether it’s because of the way the character is written or because of Andi Matichak’s performance, Allyson has always felt like she needed more fleshing out.

Outside Jamie Lee Curtis, I bestow the best performance honors upon Scott MacArthur and Michael McDonald as Big John and Little John, respectively. An adorable gay couple who moves into the Myers’ former home where they gentrify the shit out of it. Everything about their scenes had me laughing and they brought a fresh air to the film that was quite unexpected. I also fully believe that co-writer Danny McBride created these characters and no one else can tell me otherwise.

(L-R) Karen (Judy Greer), Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Allyson (Andi Matichak) in Halloween Kills

Where the film excels the most is in its visual presentation. David Gordon Green does a stand up job of keeping a lot of the camera shots interesting and engaging. There are moments where the story lags, but the visuals keep the viewer dialed in and on the edge of their seat. Typically, the viewer is watching the carnage unfold as a silent spectator; however, Green puts us into the victim’s perspective as we see out of their eyes the horrors unfolding. It makes what the viewers see all the more terrifying.

With a Halloween film, there’s an expectation for some brutal kills. And have no fear, there’s no shortage of gore. HALLOWEEN KILLS does feature a lot of humor (whether intentional or not) but when the kills happen, the tone shifts and becomes much heavier. One of the more gut-wrenching (no pun intended) kills is when Myers enters the home of an elderly couple. What proceeds is a vicious display that is chilling and cold – – all humor is gone and instead replaced pure horror. It’s those moments that really remind the audience just how terrifying Michael is.

Like the 2018 film, there is still quite a bit of fan service, especially with the return of such iconic as Halloween II‘s Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens) and Halloween‘s Lindsey Wallace (Kyle Richards), to name a few. And look, no one is going to deny the nostalgia that they bring or the scenes that give a nod to other films in the franchise (we see and respect you, Halloween III). We see these characters as the catalyst for a new generation to come forth, which is exciting.

HALLOWEEN KILLS is not only focusing on the monster that is Myers but also the monster that lives in each of us. One scene, in particular, takes place inside of a hospital corridor and is easily one of the more sobering moments of the film. It highlights mob mentality and how badly people want answers to atrocious acts. The moment is horrifying because it’s a reminder of how quickly humans can turn into monsters.

HALLOWEEN KILLS is an exciting addition to the Halloween franchise as it begins to pave the way towards its own individual story. It has its flaws which mainly fall upon the acting and writing, but for the most part, this is a film that’s going to have people cheering, laughing, and gasping in fright. Halloween is synonymous with Michael Myers and I hate to admit it, but it feels so god damn good to see the return of the Boogeyman.

HALLOWEEN KILLS arrives in theaters and streaming only on Peacock on October 15th.

Shannon McGrew
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