Shot by Shot with the Halloween Kills Trailer
Welcome to Shot by Shot, our ongoing series of movie trailer breakdowns. We’re constantly scouring for perfect shots, and in this column, we share our favorites and discuss them. In this entry, we take a stab at finding all of the Easter eggs in the Halloween Kills trailer.
Just like every other thing supposed to happen in 2020, the pandemic delayed the release of David Gordon Green’s Halloween Kills, the follow-up to his 2018 reboot of the iconic horror franchise starring the William Shatner-masked, knife-wielding Michael Myers. But now, things are looking up, and Halloween Kills’ full trailer is here to get that hype machine whirring again.
Halloween Kills takes place directly after the events of Halloween (2018) where Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) have seemingly defeated Michael Myers, who has returned to get revenge on Laurie. As her house burns down with a hopefully dead Michael inside, Laurie is rushed to the hospital.
Of course, the boogeyman himself can’t be taken down with fire. He emerges from the smoldering house like a nightmarish phoenix and continues his rampage through the town of Haddonfield. But Haddonfield isn’t going to take that lying down. In fact, Green revealed in an interview with Total Film that the film’s working title was “Mob Rules.”
In terms of just the sheer amount of Halloween installments (including the original franchise run and Rob Zombie’s re-imagining), Halloween Kills is the twelfth movie to take place in the Michael Myers Cinematic Universe, or MMCU. However, you only need to have seen John Carpenter’s 1979 original and Green’s 2018 movie, which is a direct sequel to the first film, to be caught up with this iteration of the slasher story.
But that doesn’t mean Green isn’t going to drop some Easter eggs for die-hard horror fans. The trailer alone is chock-full of callbacks to the first three Halloween movies that’ll get anyone familiar with the franchise excited for Michael Myers’ return. There’s more than Easter eggs in the trailer, though, as it teases an increasingly brutal Michael, an entire town scorned, and three final girls.
So let’s get those metaphorical knives ready to slice and dice the Halloween Kills trailer up to uncover its Easter eggs, and develop some theories about what we can expect from the sequel.
The trailer opens on Laurie’s burning house and cuts to Laurie, Karen, and Allyson sitting in the back of a truck as they rush away from the fire. Right away, this shot is a callback to the final moment in Tobe Hooper’s 1974 film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. In both shots, the traumatized and bloodied final girls are screaming in both panic and relief as it seems that the evil is gone; they are safe. Yet, as flashing lights fly past the three women, they realize fire trucks are going to put out the fire and that feeling of safety is quickly squashed.
Those fears are confirmed as two firefighters fall victim to Michael, who emerges out of the fiery basement virtually unharmed. He reveals himself to the rest of the world as he steps out on the front porch, wielding a forcible entry tool and observing his domain. In this moment, the horror of Michael Myers is realized as he has again survived the impossible without any injuries and stands with terrifying confidence as he plans his massacre of an entire fire department.
Similar to Halloween II (1981), Laurie is taken to Haddonfield Hospital. Here, not only can Laurie plot her next move, but Allyson is seen surveying the damage Michael has already wrought. As she stares at these body bags laying in the morgue, the scope of the killer’s destruction can sink in. Slasher films often end right after the destruction, or their franchises pick up years later. Here, there will be a more direct understanding and examination of the collective trauma Michael Myers has brought to this small town.
Then comes the best Easter egg of the Halloween Kills trailer: a direct reference to Halloween III: Season of the Witch, the only Halloween movie not to include Michael Myers. The three masks — the skull, pumpkin, and witch — are all from Silver Shamrock, whose logo is seen prominently on the back of the pumpkin mask. So does this mean the devious corporation that dabbled with pagan ritual exists in this universe, which makes Halloween Kills folk horror? Or is it merely a wink and a nudge to horror fans?
In moving from the three dead mask wearers, the trailer reveals how fighting Michael is going to be a group effort. Yes, Allyson is the shotgun-wielding potential final girl, but she’s also flagged by her ex-boyfriend, his dad, and a larger group behind her. This isn’t going to be the typical lone wolf journey, just as the film’s working title “Mob Rules” suggests. Part of this mob is returning character Tommy Doyle, now played by Anthony Michael Hall, who is standing right behind Allyson’s shoulder. Doyle was one of the two kids Laurie was babysitting during the 1979 film. Now, he’s grown up and he’s joining the resistance. With more than just Laurie in Halloween Kills, Green is creating an even stronger bond with the original movie, as well as building a story about lasting trauma. Tommy may not have been hunted like Laurie, but he was still there; it’s only natural that he’d want to help rid the town of its monster.
Cutting from the previous shot to a shot of an enraged mob shaking an ambulance is further proof that Halloween Kills won’t be a simple final girl-versus-killer showdown, but an entire town against the thing that threatens its very existence. A shot of such a large group of people feels like the antithesis of the slasher, which is predicated on victims being isolated and killers stalking them in the shadows. But here, it appears like those expectations are being flipped. Michael can no longer rule with fear.
That scene is new for the franchise, but not to worry because there are more callbacks in the Halloween Kills trailer to previous characters from Halloween (1979)! Nurse Marion, played by Nancy Stephens, finds herself in an eerily similar situation to her first appearance in the original Halloween as she silently scans for Michael while sitting inside her car. It is practically a shot-for-shot remake of the original scene where Marion is assaulted by an escaped mental patient.
Then, we see Lindsey Wallace, played by Kyle Richards in both the original and here. She is the second child along with Tommy whom Laurie was babysitting that night. Both Lindsey and Tommy seem to play important roles in the new movie as they embody Michael Myers’ legacy of terror. While Tommy is wielding a baseball bat and fighting back, it looks like Lindsey may not be so lucky.
Halloween is known for its iconic jack-o-lantern with the butcher knife nose. Halloween (2018) paid homage with its opening decaying pumpkin, and now Green does it again, this time with the absolute obliteration of the orange sphere of spookiness. The progression of decay to explosion feels symbolic for the progression of Green’s interpretation of the franchise and foreshadows the potential demise of Michael Myers.
So far, the Halloween Kills trailer has shown Laurie and Allyson assuming the role of the final girl. At the trailer’s climax, Karen also steps into the role as she wags Michael’s mask in front of him. She has somehow grabbed his metaphorical armor, and she may have just discovered his weakness. Could this be what finally kills Michael Myers? This moment also showcases the inheritance of being a final girl and further emphasizes the themes of intergenerational trauma.
There is a lot revealed in the two-minute-and-fifty-second trailer, which has caused some pushback from horror fans who are concerned it’s shown every good part of the movie. Such a reaction is understandable as brutal kills are shown in their entirety, and it seems like the entire plot is revealed. However, the Halloween films are always full of surprises. No trailer can generate the tension of Michael Myers creeping into a home and fashioning a weapon out of something ridiculous. That was teased with the fluorescent light jammed in a woman’s throat, and here’s hoping there’s more of that to come in Halloween Kills.
Halloween Kills stalks into theaters on October 15, 2021.