The second installment in the Halloween reboot trilogy, Halloween Kills, has now been released, and it hasn’t been well-received by critics and viewers because of how messy it is – but that’s how all good slasher movies are. The horror genre has gone through many ups and downs, but the 1980s is generally considered the best decade in horror. The 1980s saw the arrival of some of the most popular and profitable franchises in horror, among those Halloween, which even though began in 1978, reached its peak in the 1980s with four sequels (even if the quality of these movies wasn’t the best).
Halloween tells the story of Michael Myers, who on Halloween night 1963, murdered his older sister, Judith, when he was just six years old. Michael was then sent to Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, where he stayed for over a decade and never said a word. This caught the attention of many doctors and researchers, but Michael became the patient of Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence), who concluded that he was “evil”. Fifteen years later, on October 30, 1978, Michael escaped and returned to his hometown Haddonfield, Illinois, where he began to stalk Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends. Laurie became the only survivor of Michael’s killing spree and continued to be his target for a couple more movies, but the franchise has gone through a couple of retcons, and Laurie hasn’t always been included in them.
After a failed retcon with Halloween H20: 20 Years Later and Halloween Resurrection, and two remakes by Rob Zombie, the Halloween franchise is now going through a reboot trilogy that serves as a direct continuation to Carpenter’s original movie, ignoring all the movies that came after it. Because of this, in the current Halloween timeline, Michael and Laurie aren’t siblings, Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) and John Tate (Josh Hartnett) never existed, and Laurie is still alive. The first entry in the trilogy, simply titled Halloween, was a critical and commercial success, so expectations were high with the sequel, Halloween Kills – but sadly, it fell flat and has mostly received negative reviews during its first week. Halloween Kills has been criticized for its story and lack of innovation, but as messy as it is, that’s exactly how the best slashers have been.
Halloween Kills Is A Mess
Halloween Kills picks up right after the end of Halloween and is set during the remaining hours of Halloween night 2018, alternating with some flashbacks to 1978 to expand on how Michael was captured that night. It then sees Laurie, her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), being taken to the hospital, while other residents of Haddonfield formed a mob to go after Michael. Leading the group were four survivors of Michael’s 1978 killing spree: Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall), Lindsey Wallace (Kyle Richards), Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens), and Lonnie Elam (Robert Longstreet). Halloween Kills leaned heavily on nostalgia and took various elements from previous Halloween movies, most notably Halloween II, but the story ended up being a big mess because it repeated various past mistakes, such as sidelining Laurie by keeping her at the hospital, making Michael Myers supernatural again, and many found the number of deaths too high (and Michael’s methods to be too extreme).
The Problem With Halloween Kills Reviews: Slashers Aren’t Critically Acclaimed
It’s hard for horror movies to earn the approval and praise of critics, and it’s especially difficult with slashers. The slasher subgenre is very popular with viewers but not so much with critics, and some of the movies that are now regarded as classics of the genre didn’t get the best reviews when they were released. Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was banned in various countries, theaters stopped showing it, and critics called it “despicable” among many other things; Black Christmas was labeled as a “routine shocker” and a “senseless kill-for-kicks feature”; and Friday the 13th was called “silly”, “boring”, and with minimal plot. Even Halloween got negative reviews during its initial release, as critics found it to be “empty and morbid”, which shows that critics tend to miss the point of slashers.
The above-mentioned movies are now considered among the best and most influential horror movies in history, and some have influenced others (as is the case of Black Christmas and Halloween), and this has been possible thanks to viewers and critics revisiting them years later with a different perspective. The mindset behind slasher movies isn’t exactly to impress critics with deep, multilayered stories, but to shock viewers with blood, gore, violence, and scares – after all, slashers deal with a killer stalking and murdering a bunch of people. Even those that received praise from critics from the beginning, as is the case of A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, are a mess to an extent, and it’s all part of what’s expected from the genre, but critics continue to ignore that and so slashers are rarely critically acclaimed.
What Future Halloween Movies (& Slashers) Can Learn From Halloween Kills
With all that in mind, Halloween Kills has everything to fit the slasher mold: lots of violence, blood, brutal deaths, and one or two jump scares (though nothing major), all part of the messy formula of slashers. The problem with Halloween Kills, however, is that it repeated some of the franchise’s past mistakes and instead of moving the story forward it seems to have gotten stuck, with the writers more concerned about the amount of blood than anything else. As a slasher movie, however, it was executed quite well. The biggest notes Halloween Ends should take from Halloween Kills are to not rely on past elements and not fall into previous mistakes, but in terms of being a slasher movie, it should follow its steps (though, perhaps, with a lower body count, as many fans weren’t totally on board with the number of deaths in Halloween Kills). Halloween Kills can also be an example for other slasher franchises awaiting a reboot, for the same reasons that have just been mentioned.
On a more positive note, Halloween Kills does a good job in mixing a classic slasher vibe with a modern touch, which can be what saves it in future revisions, as happened with Carpenter’s original movie and many others that came before and after it. Halloween Kills could get the benefit of the passage of time like other slashers have, but a couple of years have to pass before that. Halloween Kills is definitely a mess, but one that fits what a slasher movie should be like, and while it does have many flaws, it can set an example for its sequel and for other slasher movies in the near future.
- Halloween Ends (2022)Release date: Oct 14, 2022
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