(Spoiler alert: this post contains massive spoilers from “Halloween Kills.”)
“Halloween Kills,” the long-awaited sequel to 2018’s “Halloween,” has finally arrived (in theaters and on Peacock). This entry in the franchise, which began in 1978 with John Carpenter’s masterpiece, provides plenty of bloodshed and a sky-high body count, living up to its name. (It also further explores the thematic concerns of the 2018 film, including how the trauma of violence takes its toll on generations, this time looking at its impact on the entire community.) And while the movie is thoroughly shocking, it really amps up its WTF-worthiness in the last few minutes. Here is what the ending means – and how it could impact the upcoming third (and final?) installment in this new trilogy, “Halloween Kills” (scheduled to debut next Halloween).
There are two major things that happen in the final moments of “Halloween Kills,” both of equal magnitude. Let’s get into both of the big, blood-soaked reveals …
One of the big, third-act set pieces involves Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall), one of the kids who Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) babysat in the 1978 original, finally trapping Michael Myers. Throughout the course of “Halloween Kills,” Tommy has slowly transformed into a vigilante, imposing mob rule in the sleepy town of Haddonfield and commandeering a small posse with the express purpose of rooting out Michael Myers and putting an end to his reign of terror. (He even has a catchy, T-shirt-ready slogan: “Evil dies tonight!”) After a number of dead-ends, missed opportunities, and mistaken identities (sorry, that-other-escaped-mental-patient!), Tommy finally gets his (mad) man and he and the other angry villagers get their revenge – stabbing, shooting, and beating Michael Myers.
It’s worth noting that director David Gordon Green stages the action with a kind of stark impressionism; the characters appearing against a black backdrop, only illuminated by a semicircle of idling cars. It adds to the sequence’s hallucinogenic, nightmarish quality. As he reiterates elsewhere, vengeance is empty and even a seemingly satisfying comeuppance takes place in a blank void.
Anyway, as Michael Myers starts to fully understanding the meaning of payback, we cut to the hospital where Laurie has been recuperating (and occasionally attempting to foil a bloodthirsty horde) alongside Deputy Hawkins (Will Patton), the law enforcer left for dead at the end of the last movie but found alive (sort of) at the beginning of “Halloween Kills.” They are discussing the nature of evil as it pertains to Michael Myers, and how – get this! – the violence inflicted upon him actually gives him power. The tenor of the conversation is conspiratorial in tone and suggests that Myers’ killing spree does, indeed, have a supernatural element. And a few seconds later that seems to be true, as Michael, in true horror movie icon fashion, rises from the dead and offs all the townspeople who have trapped him. And it’s awesome.
As a franchise, “Halloween” has an, er, complicated history with the supernatural.
As a concept, it was first introduced into the series in 1982’s controversial (and deeply underrated) “Halloween III: Season of the Witch,” a one-off film concerning the intersection of druids and technology. (It was cowritten by legendary British fantasist Nigel Kneale, who took his name off the project after becoming dissatisfied with the final product. John Carpenter later paid explicit homage to Kneale with 1987’s “Prince of Darkness.”) But since “Halloween III” takes place outside of the main continuity of the franchise (this is a movie where the first “Halloween” exists as a movie in this universe) let’s put that aside for now.
The next true introduction of the supernatural came in “Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers,” the sixth (!) film in the series, released back in 1995. This is where the Cult of Thorn came into play, an ancient evil that had the power to control Michael Myers. (Can you imagine?) Depending on which version you watch (there was the theatrical cut and the now more widely appreciated producer’s cut, which Shout Factory just put out on a beautiful 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. It is all unnecessarily convoluted and pretty dumb and involves a demon and an ancient ritual and bloodlust on Halloween night. It was clearly part of a last-ditch effort to rejuvenate (re-animate?) the franchise, and a concept that had deployed much cleverly in “Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives,” which fully recast Jason as a murderous, undead monster.
(There was also some quasi-mystical elements to Rob Zombie’s deeply divisive “Halloween II,” again more present in the director’s cut than the theatrical release, but let’s steer clear of that particular beehive.)
The fact that “Halloween Kills” seems to embrace the Michael Myers-as-supernatural-beast concept is deeply fascinating and a sharp left turn, especially since the 2018 movie is rooted in gritty realism and emotional truth. But then again, did you expect a full third of “Halloween Kills” to be set in 1978? Also: Tommy Doyle was wrong. Evil didn’t die tonight …
A Shocking Final Kill
As “Halloween Kills” comes to a close, Michael has once again disappeared into the inky blackness of Halloween night, and the Strode family – including Laurie’s daughter, Karen Nelson (Judy Greer), who lost her husband to Myers’ murder spree; and her granddaughter Allyson Nelson (Andi Matichak), whose boyfriend (Dylan Arnold), is killed moments before – are alive and filled with a steely resolve. With Laurie still at the hospital, Karen and Allyson are at the former Michael Myers house. Karen looks out the same window that Michael looked out after killing his older sister on Halloween night, 1963.
She thinks the house is empty (its new owners, who really spruced up the place, were killed earlier that night), but, in the movie’s most shocking moment, Michael appears behind her and plunges the knife into her, again and again. Allyson and Laurie have no idea. It is a truly brutal way to end the movie.
Although, there is some glimmer of hope. After all, Deputy Hawkins’ obituary was practically being printed when he sprung back up. Could this be an elaborate fake out to give “Halloween Kills” a shocking cliffhanger, with every intention of bringing Karen (and the wonderful Judy Greer) back for the final chapter? Or is every installment in this new franchise meant to focus around a different member of the Strode clan, with 2018’s being primarily about Laurie, “Halloween Kills” focusing more on Karen, and 2022’s “Halloween Ends” concerned more with Allyson?
Who knows! Which brings us to…
What This All Means For ‘Halloween Ends’
“Halloween Ends,” which begins production in January, is meant to serve as the end of this new trilogy, as well as the conclusion to the franchise that began in 1978 and has been rebooted and spun-off repeatedly in the decades since. It is going to be big.
But what do these revelations mean for this final chapter?
Well, depending on the fate of poor Karen Nelson, it could either fuel Laurie and Allyson’s quest for vengeance, or leave them emotionally hollowed-out. Will Laurie and Allyson band together or be torn apart? And what effect will Karen’s death have on the collective trauma of the town, already torn apart by rage and remembrance?
And, you know, how will they even defeat Michael Myers, especially if he is now pulsing with some dark supernatural force?
Other questions to consider before next fall: will Deputy Hawkins be back out of bed and ready to kick ass? Will there be more flashbacks to 1978? And who in town is even left to kill?