Halloween Kills review

Halloween Kills is a sloppy sequel. It’s got some inspired moments, but mostly feels like a filler installment for the film everyone wants to see with Halloween Ends in 2022.

Viewers not fully versed in the Halloween lore might find this chapter inaccessible. This is a direct sequel to the 2018 Halloween film picking up moments after the “final’ battle with Michael Myers.

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, Knives Out) is dealing with severe wounds and flanked by her daughter, Karen (Judy Greer, Ant-Man) and granddaughter (Andi Matichak). They’re the lone survivors of Michael’s last attack, but are relieved that they’ve killed the horror once and for all.

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Naturally, a Halloween movie that keeps Michael dead would be pretty boring. Via the magic of horror movie monsters, Michael survives and ready for Round 2 (or 47 depending on your continuity).

Director/co-screenwriter David Gordon Green stages a great emergence scene for Michael as he escapes a blazing house and proceeds to maul a group of first responders.

To their credit, the first responders immediately shift from ‘We’ve gotta put out this fire’ to ‘There is clearly a maniac with a mask unconcerned about the fire wielding a weapon. We need to kill him.’ Of course this goes badly, but the effort was appreciated.

As this is playing out, a group of survivors from Michael’s initial scourge through the town are assembled to drink their shared trauma away. Tommy (Anthony Michael Hall), Lonnie (Robert Longstreet, Midnight Mass), Marion (Nancy Stephens) and Lindsey (Kyle Richards) make some new friends in nurse Marcus (Michael Smallwood) and doctor Vanessa (Carmela McNeal).

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When the news breaks that Michael is back on the loose, Tommy immediately takes action and rallies the townsfolk of Haddonfield to find and kill Michael.

The idea of a makeshift militia going after Michael is actually intriguing. They’ve got the numbers and with even just the slightest bit of communication should be able to take him out. That’s a good idea in theory, but the screenwriters quickly realize they need the townsfolk to behave like the cliché idiotic victims in a horror movie.

This is apparently a place where Verizon forgot as no one uses cell phones to clue anyone in when they spot Michael. Green does show the consequences of people unfamiliar with guns firing them off in a state of panic. This is indicative of another problem for Green however.

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Green seems terribly conflicted with kind of horror film he’s making with Halloween Kills. He sets up the standard jump scare moments, but tends to skew more toward ironically funny kill scenes than truly horrifying.

A good number of the murders come off like Green is trying to get nervous laughter out of the audience at their over the top nature. That seems more fitting for a Friday the 13th film with wholly overmatched dumb teenagers. Not for adults who should be able to size up that a cheese knife is not going to be a very effective weapon against anything larger than a cockroach.

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Green and his co-writers try to create some deeper psychological look at mob violence. Tommy and his crew mistakenly think some escapee from the mental hospital is Michael despite this guy’s lack of a grey jumpsuit, imposing stance and oh yeah, that signature white mask. This entire subplot felt stupid and an easy way to cut some of the film’s unyielding hour and 45 minute run time.

Another major issue with the film is how Green has groups politely wait their turn to attack Michael. This is a runaway, slow moving killing machine. It’s not Double Dutch. Go in full brawl style where some folks grab his arms and legs while the rest stab and shoot him. It was amazingly frustrating watching the groups stand and watch Michael kill someone and then attack him.

Also, Tommy is the ringleader of this militia. Couldn’t he have found a more effective weapon against a killer that doesn’t use guns beside a baseball bat? At least Tommy’s crew is actually about doing something. Sheriff Barker (Omar Dorsey, Queen Sugar) seems more focused on crowd control than say…searching for the mass murderer in his town.

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One of the more terrifying aspects of Michael Myers is his approach to murder. He’s not cracking jokes or killing out of some sense of fun. He’s a very violent, psychotic force of nature.

Green goes all in on the gore making Michael’s killings and the overall violence more sadistic and gratuitous than necessary. That sounds like a stupid statement for a horror movie. In Green’s hands, Michael Myers is a sloppy, ineffective killer that needs to pummel and stab people relentlessly to laid a killing blow.

This makes some of the death scenes come off as needlessly cruel and somewhat mean-spirited. A killer with a vendetta is somewhat more understandable than a character that just randomly goes after people just because.

For her presence in the trailers, Curtis is more of a monologuing non-factor here. She spends most of the film chatting with Will Patton’s (The Forever Purge) Officer Hawkins in a hospital room as they recover from their wounds.

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Hall and Greer have more of the heavy lifting performance wise and handle their characters well. Hall gives Tommy’s ‘evil dies tonight’ rallying cry a sense of pained protest instead of something that could have come off super cheesy.

Greer strikes a nice level of in measuring Karen’s disbelief in her mother’s wild rantings now faced with the horror herself.

Given the presumed finale, Halloween Ends, arrives next year, Laurie’s lack of involvement makes sense. Ultimately she needs to be the one to take out Michael.

The final act is a disappointment for how it asks the audience to just go along with some incredibly puzzling decisions from certain characters.

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This was a middling, often frustrating saga midpoint that overindulges in gore instead of carving up a better story to justify its existence.

Rating: 5 out of 10

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Grab Halloween (2018) on Blu-Ray now from Amazon.

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