Halloween Kills review: "Does exactly what a middle chapter should do"

Halloween Kills
(Image: © Blumhouse/Universal)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

Green delivers a smart, sturdy second chapter. Low consequence, perhaps, but still highly entertaining.

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There are multiple ways in which Halloween Kills is boxed in. For one, it has to plausibly all take place on the same night as its 2018 predecessor. It also has to explain how a gravely injured, ageing serial killer could survive being trapped in a flaming basement. And it needs to leave enough unresolved to justify its already-announced sequel (next year’s Halloween Ends).

So, given those restraints, it’s a wise choice on the part of returning director David Gordon Green and co-writers Danny McBride and Scott Teems to barely move the narrative forward at all. Where the previous Halloween explored how the trauma of the original ’78 massacre affected Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), this toggles the action backwards and forward to see how the fallout manifested across the entire town of Haddonfield. Compelling takes emerge on potent themes: survivor’s remorse; mob mentality; the ghoulish fascination that can surround murder sites… 

Many horror movies become frustrating as characters make daft decisions, putting themselves in unnecessary danger. But Halloween Kills intriguingly suggests these characters are almost doing it on purpose, lining up to be cannon fodder as a way of processing their deepest fears. Easier to come to a nasty end than live your whole life terrified...

As flashbacks remind us, Michael Myers killed a mere handful of people in John Carpenter’s original movie and, well, the years have made him more efficient. The world’s most nimble pensioner absolutely tears through Haddonfield’s citizens – although the film’s most upsetting death is one he’s only tangentially to blame for. 

Several of Halloween Kills’ kills are creatively executed, veering from schlocky fun to sad moments where spouses are forced to silently watch their loved ones become human pincushions. Better still are the moments where Green stops for a minute to give these deaths some weight, as when a mother spots her son in a morgue, or when Laurie’s daughter Karen (Judy Greer) washes her husband’s blood from her wedding rings. 

Curtis, Greer, and Will Patton are all wonderful in their returning roles, with Tom Mann also doing great work as a younger version of Patton’s Deputy Hawkins, pulling off some of the campier dialogue. A few other cast – particularly those playing other survivors – don’t fare as well, vacillating between going a little too big or nowhere near big enough with their reactions. But there’s all the synth music, grotesque portmanteaus, and jump scares you’d expect; ultimately, this does exactly what the middle-of-trilogy (tetralogy?) entry should do, have a blast while ably setting up the big finale. 

Halloween Kills reaches cinemas October 15. In the meantime, check out the most exciting upcoming movies heading our way soon.

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Freelance Writer

Leila Latif is a freelance journalist, broadcaster, film critic, and self-described "haver of hot takes". She used that power (and years of experience) to cover TV and film for a wide variety of outlets such as GamesRadar+, Total Film, Little White Lies, The A.V. Club, SFX, BBC Culture, and many more.