Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, CCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.
Courtney Howard // Film Critic
Michael Meyers is back in HALLOWEEN KILLS – and has a stronger bloodlust than ever before. He may have been left for sure death in a raging house fire set ablaze by Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). Howevere, he miraculously survives, slaughtering his way through firemen and a slew of Haddonfield citizens (some of whom are returning characters to the franchise) in his evil dogged pursuit of survivor Laurie.
At the sequel’s recent virtual press day, producer Malek Akkad says it wasn’t exactly easier to produce a sequel after the first film was such a success as it was just a challenge to making any film.
“There’s definitely the pressure to succeed with the fans, box office and reactions. But, in the producer’s point of view, it’s about the same: got to get the script, break it down. So you’re focus is that. You do your best with the best chefs and crews to make this stew. It’s more matter-of-fact, ‘Let’s get it done.’”
Franchise steward/ returning director David Gordon Green says the narrative was continually changing and evolving.
“We do so many drafts, we don’t even call them drafts. We’re always writing and evolving even on set. Danny McBride, Scott Teems and I tag teamed this one. We were all working together to figure out what the proper evolution of these characters was. We have great consultation of John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis – even Nick Castle. He reads the script and gives us notes. It’s a really fun evolution.
Where it began was a collage of ideas and characters I wanted to play with and people, concepts and themes we wanted to explore. Where it ended up, takes us on its own life in the writing process and then again in the production process and then it’s born for the last time, and finally, in the editing. It’s constantly changing.”
Curtis was drawn in by the maturation of her character.
“These movies have evolved as I have evolved as a human being and Laurie Strode has evolved from an innocent to a victim of terrible violence. She got no mental health and bounced around like a pinball in her small town.”
She astutely observes the film’s themes as something that give voice and cinematically chronical and contextualize our moment in time.
“HALLOWEEN KILLS is about the collateral damage that Laurie Strode suffered. It certainly passed on to her daughter and granddaughter, but also to the whole town, to all of the survivors. It’s a movie series that’s connected to the sign of the times. 2018 was about female trauma and violence against women and 2021’s movie is about a mob violence – a group of people – coming together to say ‘We are mad as Hell and not taking it anymore. The system is broken and taking matters into our own hands.’ And the collision Michael Meyers has transcended. The overarching story may have chaos and maelstrom, and yet, at the center of it, are these three women and female empowerment – the passing of the torch from warrior to warrior.”
We’re also starting to see Matichak’s character tap into her power as fighter – one who laid dormant until Meyers’ awakens it. Matichak sees the connection between the two strong female characters.
“Allyson and Laurie are quite similar and the more Allyson comes into herself, she sees herself in her grandmother. That’s why she has to pick up the torch and when she does, she has to go for it the way Laurie would. That’s where her bravery comes from in this movie.”
“I do think [the warrior gene] is a generation skipping woman. I don’t think Karen is a warrior. She’s the opposite. Allyson is Laurie. She becomes Laurie.”
Affable actor Anthony Michael Hall was eager to play returning character Tommy Doyle and was up for the challenge.
“I just dove in. I had such adrenaline to start the project. I screen tested with David and revved myself up and tried to make it real for myself. Even though there’s so much make believe, there was so much excitement, personally, because I knew I was plugging into this great family of cool artists that imparted this franchise. We had a great, fearless leader, David Gordon Green. He’s very fluid in his process. He draws upon any inspiration from any department and anybody on set. Seeing him work with that humility and intelligence, that was inspiring too.”
Actress Kyle Richards, who returns to the role she originated in 1978’s HALLOWEEN, was up for the hefty physical demands, which include facing off against the intimidating killer.
“For me, I’m a very physically active person. I’m always hiking, skiing, cycling. It was a very good thing I was physically fit. I was really looking forward to my scene with Michael Meyers. That was the most exciting part. I was waiting for my moment. The little down time I had, because we were doing night shoot, I would go to the gym nearby. If she’s gonna have the courage to take him on, she’s got to be physically fit.”
Green says that he’s sure HALLOWEEN ENDS will also morph and mature, not solely during shooting, but also in the edit bay.
“As much as I’m confident in the script of HALLOWEEN 3, which we’re going to get into the production of shortly, I feel confident it will evolve in unexpected ways.”
HALLOWEEN KILLS opens in theaters and begins streaming on Peacock on October 15.