Mobs gone wild are hardly new to the horror world; from “Frankenstein” (all of them) to “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (the franchise’s very DNA), bloodthirsty packs of everyday people who think they’re doing something good by chasing down potential baddies and stringing them up has long been part and parcel of the genre. In David Gordon Green’s “Halloween Kills,” the second entry in his planned trilogy of films that follow John Carpenter’s seminal 1978 “Halloween,” mob mentality takes hold early on, and never quite loosens its grip.
Picking up immediately after the events of Green’s 2018 “Halloween,” “Halloween Kills” follows Laurie Strode (returning franchise star Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and Karen’s teenage daughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) as they grapple with the horrifying realization that, nope, Michael Myers is not dead and is still hellbent on murdering them, as well as whoever else gets in his way, even random passerby on the street, anyone.
As word spreads that Michael is back, various residents of the traumatized town of Haddonfield, IL — including past victims and the Strode faithful — team up to find, maim, and kill the bad man. Of course, misinformation takes hold in the various factions, emotions run too high to see any sort of reason, and suddenly, it’s hard to differentiate between the murderer and the people who want to, well, murder him. The news might call Haddonfield “deeply polarized,” but Greer, who reprises her role in the film, sees it as representative of the broader state of the world. It’s positively zeitgeist-y.
“I don’t think any artist can make a piece of art and, yes, I’m calling our films art, without the zeitgeist being present in their brain,” Greer said in a recent interview with IndieWire. “So, you’re a painter. Are you really not, when you’re painting your painting, taking in what you heard on the street, taking in what you saw on the news, taking in what you read as an update, an alert on your phone? That’s impossible.”
For Greer, one of the most exciting things about Green’s films in particular are how prescient they prove to be when it comes to the concerns of the real world. As she noted, mob mentality took on an entirely different cast after the 2021 United States Capitol attack, and while “Halloween Kills” had already wrapped by then, the film itself provides a discomfiting window into that world.
“We made the movie at the end of 2019, and it was supposed to come out in 2020, and we pushed because of the pandemic,” she said. “And then there was a riot on our nation’s capital! We didn’t know that was happening when we made this movie about mob mentality and about what happens when you become a part of mob mentality. It’s crazy that that was the case.”
Greer also pointed to the similarly forward-thinking vibe of the 2018 “Halloween,” which finds Laurie traumatized not only by the attacks of her youth, but by a world that just can’t quite understand why she’s still so afraid of Michael Myers.
“It’s crazy that, in the first one, we accidentally made a movie about the MeToo movement, about a woman not being believed,” Greer said. “That was an accident, but I think it’s really beautiful that you can make a movie like this, you can make a genre film [like this]. You’re like, ‘Oh, it’s a horror slasher movie, but it can be actually meaningful at the same time. Why not?’ And I think that’s why people love it.”
Ryan Green/Universal Pictures
And while the “mob mentality” angle may be one of the bluntest aspects of the film, it also allowed Greer to push more deeply into her character, who emerges as the voice of reason (and, hell, even empathy) in a world gone totally mad with Michael Myers’ bloodlust.
Greer said she was easily able to slip back into the events and emotion of the first film, which ended on a dramatic high note. “Halloween Kills” opens immediately after the conclusion of that film, with Laurie, Karen, and Allyson speeding away from Laurie’s burning home, which contains (what they believe to be) a dead Michael Myers. Being thrust back into that milieu helped guide her emotional state from the start.
“What we saw at the end of the 2018 ‘Halloween,’ going through that with my mom, with my daughter, the adrenaline that is created in a moment like that, if you imagine just physiologically, your adrenaline is starting to just drop and you’re exhausted,” Greer said. “You’re scared. You’re tired. Let’s be honest, I’m probably injured in some way. My mom’s bleeding out. I’m terrified. My daughter’s with me, but I’m still so scared for her life. It’s just natural that I would settle into that mama bear role and try to care for my family.”
But by being so attuned to her family’s survival in a post-Michael world — again, at least as they see it — Greer said actually helped widen Karen’s worldview. “In doing that, I’m able to kind of look outside of what’s happening a little bit better than just being inside of it, because my concerns are different,” she said. “My concerns are my mom and my daughter and less like, I don’t even know that Michael has escaped.”
Emotions aside, Greer admitted that there was one other thing that helped plunge her back into the madness of “Halloween”: donning the same Christmas sweater she wore during the last half of the first film. “Just putting on that stupid sweater, I was like, ‘Okay. And we’re back. All right,'” she said with a laugh. “It was still crusty with blood from the first one. It was disgusting. Smelled like all my sweat from the first one!”
Universal Pictures releases “Halloween Kills” in theaters and streaming on Peacock on Friday, October 15.
As new movies open in theaters during the COVID-19 pandemic, IndieWire will continue to review them whenever possible. We encourage readers to follow the safety precautions provided by CDC and health authorities. Additionally, our coverage will provide alternative viewing options whenever they are available.