It’s a shame too because, once again, there are set pieces that work—and the ones here are particularly brutal—but campy dialogue that calls attention to itself, too much fan service in the references department, sidelining Laurie Strode herself for most of the project, and truly inconsistent characters lead to a final result that definitely doesn’t kill. It barely even wounds.
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Halloween Kills (2021)
Surviving victims of Michael Myers form a vigilante mob and vow to end his reign of terror after they discover that he is still alive.
Halloween Kills is a 2021 American slasher film directed by David Gordon Green and written by Green, Danny McBride, and Scott Teems. The film is a sequel to 2018’s Halloween and the twelfth installment in the Halloween franchise. It stars Jamie Lee Curtis and James Jude Courtney, who reprise their roles as Laurie Strode and Michael Myers respectively.
Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, and Will Patton also reprise their roles from the previous film, with Anthony Michael Hall and Thomas Mann joining the cast. The film, which begins where the previous film ended, sees Strode and her family continuing to fend off Myers, this time with the help of the Haddonfield community.
Jason Blum served as a producer on the film through his Blumhouse Productions banner, alongside Malek Akkad and Bill Block. Before the release of the film, McBride confirmed that he and Green were originally intending to pitch two films that would be shot back-to-back and then decided against it, waiting to see the reaction to the first film.
Following the critical and commercial success of the 2018 film, development on the sequel promptly began as early as October 2018. By February 2019, Teems was hired to co-write the script. The film’s title was officially announced in July 2019, along with its sequel. Principal photography began in September 2019 in Wilmington, North Carolina and concluded that November.
Following a year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Halloween Kills had its world premiere at the 78th Venice International Film Festival on September 8, 2021, and was theatrically released in the United States on October 15, 2021, by Universal Pictures.
It also streamed simultaneously on paid tiers of Peacock for 60 days. The film grossed over $131 million worldwide against a production budget of $20 million and received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the creative kills, score, cinematography, and performances but criticized its screenplay and lack of innovation. A sequel, Halloween Ends, is scheduled to be released on October 14, 2022.
Halloween Kills (2021) Trailer
Halloween Kills (2021) Reviews
They’re getting together on Halloween to celebrate surviving four decades after the most traumatic night of their lives, but they’re really set up as future victims for anyone who has ever seen a horror movie (which is, based on their behavior, absolutely no one in Haddonfield).
Meanwhile, across town, Cameron (Dylan Arnold) stumbles upon the bleeding body of Deputy Hawkins (Will Patton), who is rushed to the hospital, where he will eventually share a room with Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). As the two reminisce and recover, Michael Myers escapes the burning house from the end of the first film and begins a truly brutal rampage.
On that note, “Halloween Kills” is a much darker film than the last one, filled with more than a dozen of what slasher fans used to call “quality kills.” As Myers makes his way across Haddonfield, Laurie’s daughter Karen (Judy Greer, at least given a bit more to do here than last time) tries to stop Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) from joining the mob formed by Tommy to track him down. As they chant “Evil dies tonight,” they make, shall we say, some mistakes.
On that point, Roger Ebert wrote the following about the first “Halloween II” back in 1981: “The plot of ‘Halloween II’ absolutely depends, of course, on our old friend the Idiot Plot which requires that everyone in the movie behave at all times like an idiot.” It’s almost as if co-writers Green, Danny McBride, and Scott Teems had this quote on a whiteboard in the writer’s room because this is the aspect they get the most right when it comes to being faithful to the first two movies.
Everyone in “Halloween Kills” is wildly idiotic, whether it’s the mob formed too easily by Tommy, the common trope of victims who know there’s a killer on the loose investigating the thump upstairs instead of just running, and some truly boneheaded decisions in the final scenes that really stretch credulity. The truth is that when a film like “Halloween Kills” is working, audiences will ignore the “Idiot Plot.” It’s only when they’re not invested that it becomes a problem, and that’s the case here.
In particular, Laurie’s monologues are a mish-mash of nonsense about unstoppable evil. And fans will be truly sad that she barely leaves the hospital or even impacts the plot, which is a baffling decision given how much fans of the last film praised Curtis’ return, seeming to tie Myers and Strode together before untying them here.
“Halloween Kills” follows the classic sequel formula of “Again, But More of It.” There are more kills, more characters, more references, and more general chaos. However, all of it keeps pulling the movie away from the story of a bogeyman who came to life and became something else entirely.
We have seen so many variations on Michael Myers over the years from Carpenter’s to Rob Zombie’s to all of the various sequels in between those two filmmakers. I’m most startled that an undeniably talented director like David Gordon Green made, barring an impressive recovery in the already-greenlighted “Halloween Ends,” what will be one of the franchise’s most forgettable.
Halloween Kills (2021) Credits
Halloween Kills (2021)
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Judy Greer as Karen Nelson
Andi Matichak as Allyson Nelson
Will Patton as Frank Hawkins
Thomas Mann as Young Hawkins
Anthony Michael Hall as Tommy Doyle
Kyle Richards as Lindsey Wallace
Nancy Stephens as Marion Chambers
Charles Cyphers as Leigh Brackett
Nick Castle as The Shape
James Jude Courtney as Michael Myers
- David Gordon Green
Writer (based on characters created by)
- John Carpenter
- Debra Hill
- Scott Teems
- Danny McBride
- David Gordon Green
- Michael Simmonds
- Timothy Alverson
- Cody Carpenter
- John Carpenter
- Daniel Davies
Halloween Kills (2021) Plot
On October 31, 1978, Deputy Frank Hawkins accidentally shoots his partner dead while trying to save him from Michael Myers. He also prevents Dr. Samuel Loomis from executing Michael. Forty years later, on October 31, 2018, after being stabbed and left to die by Dr. Ranbir Sartain, Hawkins is found by Cameron Elam, who calls an ambulance. Hawkins regrets not allowing Michael’s execution and vows to kill him.
Meanwhile, Tommy Doyle celebrates the 40th anniversary of Michael’s imprisonment along with fellow survivors Marion Chambers, Lindsey Wallace, and Cameron’s father, Lonnie Elam, having each survived an encounter with Michael in 1978.
Firefighters responding to Laurie Strode’s burning house inadvertently release Michael, who slaughters them with their own equipment. Laurie, her daughter Karen, and her granddaughter Allyson are taken to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, where Laurie undergoes emergency surgery, as Michael murders Laurie’s neighbors before making his way back to Haddonfield.
Tommy, Marion, Lindsey, and Lonnie learn of Michael’s killing spree through a wireless emergency alert. Bar patron Vanessa supposedly encounters Michael in her car, but the driver crashes and escapes unnoticed. Tommy forms a mob of vengeful Haddonfield residents to hunt down and kill Michael.
Karen is informed that Michael is still alive and withholds that information from Laurie to allow her to recover. Allyson reconciles with Cameron, her ex-boyfriend, and she joins Tommy’s mob to avenge her own father’s death. Laurie and Hawkins both awaken in the same room and reminisce about their former relationship.
While warning the Haddonfield community to stay inside their houses, Marion, Vanessa, and her husband Marcus are killed by Michael. Lindsey escapes and is found alive by Tommy, Lonnie, Allyson, and Cameron. The group map out Michael’s path and his victims’ location and deduce that he is heading towards his childhood home.
Tommy takes Lindsey to the hospital and reunites with former Haddonfield sheriff Leigh Brackett, whose daughter Annie was killed in 1978, and informs Laurie about Michael’s survival. Across town, Michael murders the current owners of his home as Laurie prepares to leave the hospital.
Lance Tovoli, a fugitive convict from Smith’s Grove Psychiatric Hospital and the driver of Vanessa’s car, who escaped alongside Michael when their bus crashed, arrives and is mistaken for Michael. Tommy’s mob pursue him through the hospital before Karen realizes that he is not Michael. Despite her attempts to calm the mob and help Lance, he jumps out a window to his death.
Laurie urges Karen to work with Tommy and Brackett to hunt Michael down. Elsewhere, Lonnie enters Michael’s home alone and is killed. Allyson and Cameron rush inside and find his corpse before being attacked by Michael, who murders Cameron.
As Michael prepares to kill Allyson, Karen stabs him in the back with a pitchfork, steals his mask, and taunts him to follow her. She leads Michael into Tommy’s mob, who swarm, attack, and seemingly kill him. When the mob disperses, Michael recovers and massacres the entire mob, including Tommy and Brackett. Back at Michael’s home, Karen goes upstairs to investigate while Allyson receives medical attention. Michael appears and stabs Karen to death in Judith Myers’s old bedroom as Laurie stares out of her hospital room.
Halloween Kills (2021) Box office
Halloween Kills grossed $92 million in the United States and Canada, and $39.6 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $131.6 million.
In the United States and Canada, Halloween Kills was released alongside The Last Duel, and was initially projected to gross $35–40 million from 3,700 theaters in its opening weekend.
The film made $4.85 million from Thursday night previews, the biggest for both an R-rated title and a horror film amid the pandemic, surpassing A Quiet Place Part II‘s $4.8 million. After making $22.8 million on its first day (including previews), which also immediately surpassed the lifetime totals of Halloween III, 4, 5, and Curse of Michael Myers, estimates were raised to $50 million.
It went on to debut to $49.4 million, topping the box office and marking the best opening for an R-rated film amid the pandemic (nearly doubling The Suicide Squad‘s $26.2 million). It fell 71% in its second weekend to $14.5 million, finishing second behind newcomer Dune, then made $8.7 million the following weekend, before falling to seventh in its fourth weekend with $2.3 million.
Halloween Kills (2021) Critical Response
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 39% of 262 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 5.00/10. The site’s consensus reads, “Halloween Kills should satisfy fans in search of brute slasher thrills, but in terms of advancing the franchise, it’s a bit less than the sum of its bloody parts.”
On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 42 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “B−” on an A+ to F scale, lower than the “B+” earned by its 2018 predecessor, while those at PostTrak gave it a 69% positive score, with 52% saying they would definitely recommend it.
Barry Hertz of The Globe and Mail was positive in his review, saying that the film was “brimming with odd decisions”, but added: “there is something entertaining, or maybe just enjoyably puzzling, about what Gordon Green and McBride think a Michael Myers movie could or ought to be.”
Reviewing the film for TheWrap, Asher Luberto praised the return of cast members from the 1978 film and wrote: “Green seems less interested in rewriting the Halloween playbook than in giving audiences what they came for, from ghastly scares to a ghoulish score.
It’s a strategy that promises to make the series as immortal as Michael Myers himself.” /Film‘s Marshall Shaffer gave the film 7.5/10 and said: “There’s good reason to be excited for how Green will bring this all to a head in his grand finale. Halloween Kills manages to put a playful but petrifying spin on mythology without resorting to cheap self-referentiality.”[
Brian Truitt of USA Today gave the film 2.5/4 stars, saying that it was “gruesomely brutal as a night spent with Michael Myers should be”, but added that it “loses some of its skull-crushing effectiveness juggling rampant carnage and social commentary.”
Owen Gleiberman of Variety wrote: “Halloween night may be Michael Myers’ masterpiece, but Halloween Kills is no masterpiece. It’s a mess — a slasher movie that’s almost never scary, slathered with ‘topical’ pablum and with too many parallel plot strands that don’t go anywhere.” Kyle Smith of National Review criticized the violence in the film, writing: “the only element that excites more than it nauseates is the terrific score”, and called the film “grueling, enervating, and dispiriting”.
David Fear of Rolling Stone wrote: “Kills comes incredibly close to erasing every ounce of good will that Green’s revolutionary redo built up. It murders the desire to ever watch another Halloween movie again.” Brian Lowry of CNN said that the film was “odd on various levels, starting with the wholly misguided attempt to weave a half-baked message into its bloody mayhem”, and wrote: “If the previous movie conjured a bit of excitement by eradicating everything that had transpired after the original, that sense of novelty has quickly worn off.”
Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a score of 2/4 stars, describing it as a “thudding disappointment” and “an inconsistent, sloppy mess.” Kevin Maher of The Times gave the film 1/5 stars, describing it as a “depressingly mechanical gorefest” that “has nothing to offer the sentient viewer”.
Clarisse Loughrey of The Independent gave the film 2/5 stars, describing it as a “lurching, directionless corpse of a film” that “relies far too much on the knowledge that it has one more instalment … in which to figure out what the whole blasted trilogy should be about.” Linda Marric of The Jewish Chronicle also gave the film 2/5 stars, deeming it “a shambolic, risible mess which is further hampered by a total absence of genuinely scary bits.”
Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph also gave the film 2/5 stars, writing: “Halloween Kills certainly feels like more Halloween. But the game board is left exactly as it was found in readiness for round 13; the only thing that advances is the body count.” However, Aedan Juvet of Bleeding Cool referred to the film as a “worthwhile middle chapter of a trilogy.”
YouTuber, filmmaker, and critic, Chris Stuckmann praised the film, deeming it superior to the 2018 film. Stating, “While this is an incomplete story”, he went on to say that, “As a big fan of this franchise, it made me feel better than the last one did. It felt more right to me. It was fast moving, the attempts at characterization worked pretty well”. He continued to praise the portrayal of Michael Myers saying, “He is actually destroying a town through his actions. So it makes it more than just a guy who pops out of a closet and stabs you.”
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