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It would be a mistake to label 'Halloween Kills' as a typical 'slasher film'

Ryan Green
Universal Studios

Halloween Kills is brutal and cruel. And, I have to acknowledge, it does mostly work on its own terms.

Let me explain.

This is the second part in a planned trilogy of sequels to John Carpenter’s 1978 horror masterpiece, and this time out, director David Gordon Green seems to have no intention of making things “fun” for anyone. It’s as if he’s saying we need to realize, at this point, that Michael Myers is simply an oppressive wave of death, and questions about his motivation are very far from the real point. Myers just is, and he kills, and kills, and kills. Green stages many of the murders directly and at a measured pace, not as the “good kills” that might give us some creepy laughs or jump-scares. This movie may have the hallmarks of a typical slasher film, but I think it’s a mistake to view it through that lens.

Now, there are a number of real blood-splattering moments, so it could be that Green is trying to have his cake and eat it, too. But he’s a smart director, with some extraordinarily good films on his resume, and the way he lingers on even these gross-out sequences indicates to me that he’s got something else on his mind. He lets some of it go on far too long, past the point where it’s anything but sickening to watch, and I don’t think this is a miscalculation. He’s not trying to entertain us with this death. It’s just awful death.

There is some ham-fisted nonsense in the back half of the movie about “fear” being the real enemy, and mob violence, and it’s a huge problem for a film that then seems to be split between depicting the slow crush of overwhelming murder and trying to have a “message.” But what’s interesting to me isn’t that clumsy attempt at self-importance, but rather how nearly every character, including those we would assume we’re supposed to be rooting for, falls victim to buying too much of their own bull. They all think they’re the important ones, the ones who matter, the ones who will end this. And here is Michael Myers, showing them they are all, devastatingly, wrong.

Halloween Kills is in theaters and streaming on Peacock

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.