Halloween Kills (2021)

Director: David Gordon Green

Running Time: 105 Minutes

Certification: 18

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Thomas Mann, Anthony Michael Hall, Kyle Richards, Nancy Stephens, Robert Longstreet, Dylan Arnold, James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle

Of all the long-running horror franchises, the Halloween series was cursed with the most muddied timeline due to the numerous reboots undertaken. Most welcoming was the clean slate David Gordon Green and Danny McBride delivered with their 2018 feature, which disregarded the tangled continuity for a legacy-sequel to the 1978 classic. The story showed a hardened Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her family grappling with their generational trauma, a resounding success which led to the announcement of two further sequels. If the preceding film was inspired by John Carpenter's original, this feels inspired by 1981's Halloween II (minus a soap-opera twist).

Following on from the predecessors fiery ending, this follow-up takes place over the same night Michael Myers returned. While a wounded Laurie is rushed to hospital, Michael escapes from her trap to continue his bloodbath. In response to the ensuing massacre, the residents of Haddonfield led by Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) rise up to fight against Michael, complete with a rallying cry of "Evil Dies Tonight!"

From his initial scene slaughtering firefighters, Michael feels more brutal as he carves his way through the Haddonfield residents. As the previous events leave Laurie sidelined and Jamie Lee Curtis all but vanishes from this film, the towns residents form a vigilante mob to strike back against the evil force that's left them terrorised. It's a delicious idea to have the Haddonfield residents fighting back, although the proceedings feel shackled by the knowledge this is a middle-chapter in a trilogy. Nothing can be resolved until the next film's release, leaving this to feel like an overlong stop-gap which makes any tension disappear.

What's left is a ramshackle of mismatched subplots, as the consequences of mob-rule are depicted alongside an entertaining couple who've taken residence in a familiar house. There's also the return of legacy characters complete with glaringly fan-servicey elements. To it's credit, this aspect works during the opening love-letter to the original film, although that feels like a rarity among so many forced inclusions. While many elements don't work, some interesting swings are taken which ensure this is more than just a retread of its predecessor. It'll be interesting to see what directions are taken for Halloween Ends.

Halloween Kills is available in cinemas, and streaming on Peacock in the US