Michael Myers returns in Halloween Kills once again. The Halloween franchise has had a long history of confusing continuity and near misses. John Carpenter’s original intention was for Halloween to be an anthology series. That all changed when Michael Myers appeared onscreen. Instead, viewers saw countless sequels that were more ridiculous than the last. Because of this, it was a surprise in 2018 when Jamie Lee Curtis returned to the Halloween franchise as Laurie Strode. It seemed as though the actress had retired being a scream queen. But with the new Halloween movie came a revitalized storyline.
2018’s Halloween ignored the previous canon. Instead of attempting to remember all the subsequent sequels, the new Halloween’s canon takes place after the original 1978 film. After forty years in a mental health facility, Michael Myers escapes and returns to Haddonfield. Halloween Kills picks up where the 2018 film left off. The Strode family believes that Michael burned to death in Laurie’s home. But even though the canon of the Halloween sequels has been erased, no one can forget that Michael Myers created the trope that horror movie villains always come back.
Justice For Laurie Strode
Michael Myers returns, but the characters in Halloween do not know that they are in a Halloween movie. While previous Halloween movies were self-aware that he would return, the Laurie Strode’s family does not have these expectations. As Laurie is rushed to the hospital after trapping Michael in her burning home, she and her family believe that Michael has perished.
It is well into the film until Laurie realizes that Michael is still alive. And even then, she and Sheriff Hawkins never leave their hospital room. Halloween was made famous by Laurie Strode battling Michael Myers. One of the most disappointing aspects is to see Jamie Lee Curtis stuck in the same room for the entire film. Compared to the 2018 Halloween, this choice makes little sense.
Laurie drove the plot forward in Halloween. She is the one that is certain Michael has returned when no one else does. It seems the only reason that Jamie Lee Curtis and Will Patton are in the film is their star power. Sheriff Hawkins barely has three lines the entire film. It seems like a missed opportunity not to include the most seasoned actors in the rest of the film. They are exiled in the same room while everyone else chases after Michael.
The Characters Are Underutilized
What is worse, Laurie Strode never encounters Michael Myers in Halloween Kills. For some reason Tommy Doyle becomes the main character of the film. He insists on chasing after Michael even though Laurie has always been the heart of these films. Laurie only waxes poetic about the nature of good and evil.
Laurie Strode is not the only character who is disappointing. Halloween Kills brings back characters from the original film. Characters Lonnie, Lindsey, and Marion return, played by some of the original actors. These characters come back after surviving Michael Myers in the 1978 film. Their scenes are brief and Lindsey is the only one out of the bunch to survive this Halloween. As with Sheriff Hawkins, these characters barely have any lines. They arrive on-screen briefly and are killed off just as quickly. Deaths are expected, sure, but with these characters, it feels like nothing more than for a few seconds of nostalgia.
Tommy Doyle Returns
Halloween Kills falters when it comes to expectations. It dispenses with characters without a preamble and struggles with its comedic tone. The main plot of the film centers around Tommy Doyle rallying the town to kill Michael before he continues his reign of terror. Anthony Michael Hall portrays the character that originated in the original Halloween. If viewers have forgotten, Laurie saved Tommy in the original film.
Tommy first appears in a bar and tells the story of Halloween and Laurie Strode, as if the viewers are not already aware of it. He honors those who have survived Michael’s rampage. This is where Hall’s portrayal of the character stops being subtle, if it ever was. Even though Michael has not been in Haddonfield for forty years, Tommy immediately springs into action to essentially create a lynch mob. He creates a hokey chant, “evil dies tonight,” and yells it at every given opportunity. Hall’s portrayal is ridiculous and schlocky. If Halloween could decide on a tone, this would not be a bad thing. One of the most enjoyable aspects of horror is the outrageousness and theatricality. But Halloween Kills goes from somber to dramatic so instantaneously that it gives the viewer whiplash.
The Nature of Mob Mentality
Tommy is an outrageous character, but he causes devastating consequences for the characters at the same time. Everyone is sure that Michael will come after Laurie in the hospital. So when an inmate from the mental health facility shows his face, the mob immediately assumes that he’s Michael. Tommy whips up a frenzy and the entire town goes after a relatively innocent man. Only the Strodes realize that this man isn’t Michael. Even as Karen tries to protect the man from the angry mob, it leads to tragic consequences and the end of the man’s life.
This moment is so upsetting that it is a relief when Michael kills Tommy. Tommy was not the hero he thought himself to be. He was wrong in the way he handled Michael’s return. As Laurie puts it, this is what Michael wanted. He created a vortex of evil and the townspeople continued to perpetuate it. This is an astounding perspective in a Halloween movie that has not yet been seen before. It is a shame that this element was not explored in more depth.
Michael Just Wants To Go Home
For better or worse, Michael becomes a less mysterious villain at the end of Halloween Kills. What had always made him so terrifying was his lack of empathy. Unlike Jason in Friday the 13th, he had no origin story. He had no reason to kill the people of Haddonfield. At six years old, he just snapped. The Halloween franchise attempted to explain his motives by retconning that Laurie Strode was his sister.
Halloween Kills does away with all of that. Instead, it doubles down on his original characterization. Michael has only one interest. He wants to go home. Lonnie realizes that Michael is just walking in a straight line back to his childhood home. Whoever he comes across, he kills.
Michael does not have a fixation with Laurie like in the original franchise. In the new canon, Michael only returned to Haddonfield because his doctor took him there. It was never about Laurie. This supports the logic of the film better. It would not have made sense that Michael would return to kill Laurie after just one night forty years previous. She was just in the way. And while it makes logical sense, the film’s trajectory falters because of it. The stakes are high like they are in any Halloween movie. But even so, not a lot happens except for people running around in the dark.
Halloween Falls Flat
Halloween Kills is full of excitement as the townspeople essentially attempt to make a citizen’s arrest on Michael Myers. But that is the only plot thread of the film. The film leans on inventive kills to carry the story. While the kills are important to the genre, the story is lacking. Haddonfield’s people immediately create a mob to kill Michael, but they never had a chance of succeeding. Especially keeping in mind that there will be one more movie to round out the trilogy, the stakes are low. Michael Myers always has plot armor and there is no way he is going to be killed. Halloween Kills, like Michael, walks in a straight line with no altered course. While it held many good aspects, its ending feels ultimately unearned.