Slasher flick Halloween Kills takes on horrors of mob mentality

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SINGAPORE - American actress Jamie Lee Curtis made her feature film debut in director John Carpenter's low-budget slasher movie Halloween in 1978.

Her turn as Laurie Strode, a babysitter pursued by the knife-wielding serial killer Michael Myers through the town of Haddonfield, changed her life. The movie was a hit that spawned a franchise - 12 movies thus far, including the new one, Halloween Kills - but she has reprised her character in only a handful of these.

In previous interviews, she admitted that a couple of the sequels in which she took a role were sub-par.

After those experiences, Curtis, now 62, promised herself that she would stay away from the series that she first starred in when she was 19.

"The last thing in the world I thought I would do is another Halloween movie. I was perfectly happy with the work I was doing," she tells journalists at an online panel for Halloween Kills. The movie opens in cinemas on Oct 28.

Then, a few years ago, actor Jake Gyllenhaal, whom she calls her "unofficial godson", rang her. He insisted that she speak with director and co-writer David Gordon Green, who had developed an idea for a Halloween story set in the present day.

In it, Laurie, her family and residents of Haddonfield are dealing with the psychological damage caused by Myers' 1978 murder spree. Green's version erased timelines and events set by other sequels.

"I immediately liked his take on the material. Honestly, that's it," she says. She was especially drawn to Green's visualisation of female trauma, which she felt was "empowering and appropriate".

The result of the chat was the first movie, Halloween, released in 2018. The final film in the trilogy, Halloween Ends, is scheduled for release in 2022.

In Kills, set immediately after the 2018 movie, Myers' trail of slaughter leads him back to the site of the original murders. Laurie's family, including daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), hunkers down while Haddonfield townspeople, including survivors of the 1978 massacre and loved ones of those killed, pick up arms.

Green, speaking at another panel, says he wanted to see townsfolk united against a common enemy, a scenario often found in Frankenstein and vampire movies.

"In some ways, the film is an homage to the horror movie idea of the 'raising of the pitchforks'. That mob mentality in many ways is just as horrific as the movie monster itself," says the 46-year-old.

Green, a fan of the John Carpenter original, wrote the treatment that impressed Gyllenhaal, Curtis and acclaimed horror producer Jason Blum, whose Blumhouse Productions is behind the Sinister (2012 to 2015), The Purge (2013 to 2021) and Insidious (2013 to 2015) films.

The director had come to the horror franchise after a career in comedies (the stoner hit Pineapple Express, 2008) and dramas (the biopic Stronger, 2017).

He speaks about how the 2018 film established the Laurie-Michael dynamic, one that will come to an "intimate resolution" in the third and final film.

Kills, the middle movie, is about "chaos". Townspeople, reacting to information about new murders and seeking revenge for old ones, become armed vigilantes, he says. "We wanted to explore what happens to a community driven by rage, panic and frustration."

Halloween Kills opens on Oct 28.

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