Although the latest sequel in the saga may be a strikingly apt metaphor for modern-day America, it’s undermined by what is clearly a transitional film

In one scene from ‘Halloween Kills’, a characters explains that when Michael Myers was a kid, and now also in adulthood, he insists on returning home and staring out his upstairs window, as they wonder what exactly is he looking at and, if he isn’t observing someone or something, then could he actually be contemplating his own reflection? In parallel, the residents of Haddonfield, the town where the action of the entire saga takes place, decide to take matters into their own hands and catch the psychopath and putting an end to his reign of terror once and for all. As expected, their desire for revenge blinds them to who’s who and who’s done what, so the mob ends up persecuting an innocent man for the mere fact that he looks disturbed. Both ideas are part of the same concept, of the same reflection: Michael Myers, here more than ever, is the poster child for a reactionary, distrustful and vengeful America. An America on the defensive, condemned to populism and moralizing discourse, apparently looking abroad, but in reality obsessively contemplating its own demons. An America  doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again, and that’s why its bogeymen repeatedly return to haunt them. Either way, the movie could by no means be considered an additional chapter in the story. ‘Halloween Kills’ is yet another example of how the genre deals with the shades of gray in the real world evidencing our shortcomings as well as serving as a striking metaphor of the terrors that besiege us.

That said, it’s a far cry from being a well-rounded movie; the plot picks up the action from the exact point its predecessor left off and is designed to lay the foundations, serving as the launching pad if you will, towards a conclusion the saga’s creators hope will be cathartic, in ‘Halloween Ends’. As numerous critics have already pointed out, this second part doesn’t do much, or anything to move the franchise forward, failing to reach the zenith in several potential climaxes and even sidelining some of the main characters, the most obvious being Laurie Strode, a cornerstone of the overarching narrative, who many feel deserved far more of the limelight. It’s true there are several fronts open, which is fine, but the need to keep them open is detrimental to the movie’s overall impact. That said, there are plenty of horror films that would kill to be able to convey the same level of tension transmitted in many scenes and the dialogues are right up there with some of the most successful titles in the saga. You only have to look at how it portrays aspects we did not see in John Carpenter’s original film and how these are leveraged to provide audiences with fresh perspective on the filmmaker’s mythology. And therein lies the very essence of this latest trilogy; to  redefine and modernize the collective imagination, acknowledging the narrative as from a different time with its own particular look. ‘Halloween Kills’ expresses this through the use of dark humor and playing with the clichés inherent to the protagonist (the priceless moment Michael insists on finding the right knife for the job before bludgeoning a corpse), in addition to a splendid final act, which in turn works as a prologue, where the voice of the magnificent Jamie Lee Curtis reminds of the Michael Myers’ legend as he, once again, persists in defiantly getting back up, to once again contemplate the world, shielded behind his mask. Because that’s the very reason he stares out his window and contemplates his reflection, because that’s how he feeds on our inner-most fears and becomes the monster we will never quite to defeat: something that might sound familia to many of us.

Pep Prieto. Journalist and writer. Series critic on ‘El Món a RAC1’ and for the program ‘Àrtic’ on Betevé. Author of the essay ‘Al filo del mañana’, about time-travelling cinema, and ‘Poder absoluto’, about cinema and politics.