The only thing dying tonight is my enthusiasm for the sequel.
“Halloween Kills” is the newest addition to the slasher “Halloween” franchise, following up 2018’s “Halloween,” which was a 40-year sequel to 1978’s “Halloween” by John Carpenter. These newest films act as a new canon for the franchise, erasing the previous sequels from the timeline. The film sees David Gordon Green returning as the director and as one of the writers along with Danny McBride, with a third writing credit attributed to Scott Teems. This review contains some graphic imagery and mentions of gore.
After the fiery ending of the last film, serial killer Michael Myers survives as he reigns terror upon Haddonfield, Illinois. With Laurie Strode incapacitated, her daughter Karen and granddaughter Allyson continue the fight. At the same time, a mob created by surviving characters from the original film ravages the town looking for Michael Myers.
“Halloween Kills” is close to being a good continuation of the new “Halloween” canon, but it falls apart midway through, never quite building itself up again. It’s entertaining, but it often felt like I was laughing at the movie and not with it, even during the intentionally goofy moments.
Everyone from the previous film returns, including Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie, Judy Greer as Karen, Andi Matichak as Allyson and Will Patton as Deputy Frank, along with a few others. They all continue to perform well, carrying over their characters pretty effortlessly into this film. However, it was extremely disappointing to see how the film handled Jamie Lee Curtis. It’s a little realistic, but she really has nothing to do this time around.
Some of the new faces in this entry include Anthony Michael Hall as Tommy, Robert Longstreet as Lonnie and a few others. They really don’t bring much to the film outside of fleshing out the town, with most of these characters serving no real purpose or just causing terrible events to happen. They are mostly underwritten, with singular motives and a poor grasp on reality, causing them to become unlikable.
It’s saying something when you begin to root for Michael Myers to kill these characters.
The only truly good addition is Scott MacArthur and Michael McDonald, who play the couple Big John and Little John. They have more personality and importance to the film than any side character, while stirring fear for their safety in the audience. It’s a shame that the rest of the characters aren’t as lovable as them.
As for the horror, this movie deviates away from the slow background horror of the first two films. Instead of Myers appearing in the shadows before going in for the kill, he now opts for the bloodiest and goriest ways to eliminate the townsfolk. For the most part, it’s done well, with some stylish kills and effective gore thrown around.
But, it feels like a departure that didn’t need to happen. It’s moving too far and too quickly away from what makes “Halloween” special and why the late sequel worked as one of the better installments in the franchise. If this movie was its own thing or a part of a different franchise, this would probably work better. But, it feels a little lost as a “Halloween” film, especially one that was supposed to be a return to form. Gone are the subtle horror sequences in favor of the brutal and brash, therefore leaving it less effective than the film that is nearly 50 years old.
One final note about the horror sequences: There’s one really confusing and somewhat stupid part that’s thrown into the middle of the film. After Myers murders several people, he leaves the scene with a hidden survivor. But when the other characters discover the bodies, they aren’t where they were initially. Instead, they are carefully arranged on a playground, hanging from swings or spinning on a merry-go-round with bloody masks on.
To put this in perspective, Myers killed several people, left the scene, then came back to play around with the bodies so that the townsfolk could discover them as if they were Halloween decorations.
Admittedly, I haven’t watched many of the “Halloween” movies outside of the original and the 2018 sequel, but I think this is supposed to be in homage to the original sequels in the franchise. But that doesn’t really make sense because these newer films de-canonized the older films, with the main intention of bringing the franchise back to its simple, yet effective roots. Besides acting as fan service, why is this here? It’s fun, but it clashes with what Myers is as a killer.
This and the sequence leading up to it began the downfall of the film. For the first half, it was a gory and somewhat funny horror film with some good sequences and setups. But after this point, it just falls down a set of stairs, continuously going down until it hits rock bottom.
The biggest contributor and the hardest stair that the movie falls on is the mob portion of the film. Again, no spoilers, but the mob serves zero purpose to the film, which is made worse by the fact that it takes up a large chunk of the movie’s runtime. It spirals out of control before petering out, leaving only a slapped together message of, “Maybe WE are the monsters.” It’s a genuine waste of time, while also offering more reasons to dislike Tommy’s character as the instigator of the mob.
There’s also a really tasteless usage of gore in relation to a mental hospital patient. It was not only out of place, but pointless, showing something in graphic detail that didn’t need any detail at all. And it wasn’t even a Myers kill, it just happens.
Despite that, I was still laughing and having fun with the movie. However, it didn’t feel as if the movie was creating that enjoyment by its own merits. For every intentionally funny joke, there were three actions in the movie that blurred the line between intentional and unintentional humor. All it did was lower the tension and make the movie seem silly.
There really isn’t much to say outside of that. The movie is mostly well made in the technical aspects, and David Gordon Green does some solid work in the horror sequences. It mostly falls within the writing, which then bleeds into the direction. It never hits the heights of what it can do, instead appealing to the lowest common denominators to make a “funny” horror movie.
“Halloween Kills” is disappointing. It acts as a departure from what the 2018 film set up, opting for gore and shlock instead of subtlety and nuance. It took all the bad habits of the franchise and resurfaced them for no discernible reason.
All the negativity aside, this film is still entertaining. If you want a dumb horror movie filled with tropes, gore and humor, you could go wrong elsewhere. Even when I was hating on the film, I still had fun watching it.
It more so feels disappointing due to the unnecessary existence of the film coupled with what the previous film accomplished. From what I know, the 2018 film was one of the better “Halloween” sequels, and that was mostly due to its understanding of what made the original film work.
This is why it feels strange to see this film throw all of that away in favor of brash brutality and almost out of place humor. It’s not unwatchable, but I kind of wish they hadn’t made this movie.
With one last film planned on the horizon, this movie really killed any hopes for the franchise’s future.
2.5 of 5 Torches