Halloween Kills

Halloween Kills ★★★

In Halloween Kills, the all-purpose metaphor of Michael Myers/The Shape is used to represent the long-simmering chaos beneath the uncanny archetype of suburban Americana that is Haddonfield, USA.

It’s eternally autumn in the neighborhood, and Myers once again stalks and slaughters local trick-or-treaters. Meanwhile, the Strodes (now an intergenerational trifecta of battle-hardened survivors) are still reeling from the events of 2018’s Halloween, which transpired merely minutes ago in accordance with the film’s dilated chronology. While under hospital care, the three ladies are insulated from the rampage quietly unfolding in Haddonfield as The Shape once again eludes death. 

The illusion of peace and victory does not last long, however, as the omnipresent evil of The Shape quickly “infects” townsfolk, turning them into vengeful ghouls as they comb through the neighborhood in search of Myers. Here, director David Gordon Green explicitly touches upon Halloween 4 in turning Myers into an abstraction — an idea of common enemy, a moral foil, a warped reflection of society’s most primal instincts. Haddonfield is no longer a specific place for it now serves as a barely identifiable microcosm of social disorder. The story of Halloween was never about Myers. Rather, it has always been an apocalyptic fable about the futility of progress and the deadly allure of complacency.

“The system failed,” Laurie Strode (a severely wasted Jamie Lee Curtis) exclaimed at one point, frustrated that people, including her daughter, would not listen to her despite her being the de facto Final Girl who knows how to solve the problem of evil, somehow. The system only knows to respond with violence — the exact thing that The Shape feeds on to further transcend his flesh-and-blood shell and therefore become increasingly impervious to worldly harm.

What’s the alternative, then? The movie doesn’t tell us. I'm not sure it knows, either. Instead, it simply posits that The Shape is forever — an inextinguishable instinct inherent in being. The more we deny it, the stronger it becomes.

Funnily enough, the movie could well serve as an apt metaphor for the strangely durable Halloween franchise itself: the more we ignore it, the more it grows in size (Halloween Kills is the 12th entry in the series). For all its formal intelligence (the movie features quite a few thematically rich shots involving glass reflections), Halloween Kills can’t help but feel routine and mechanical — or perhaps that is the point it is trying to make, that violence is cyclical, but I am not convinced.

After all, there is only so much ground a filmmaker could cover with the tale of Haddonfield vs Michael Myers before everything devolves into pastiche. In retrospect, the comfortable predictability of Halloween ‘18 and Halloween Kills is itself a kind of pastiche — the one where The Shape is forever, Halloween is forever and pop culture is a perpetual, recursive entity that coddles us with recycled spectacle.

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