Movie Review: ‘Halloween Kills’

Director: David Gordon Green

Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle, Judy Greer, Andu Matichak, Will Patton, Anthony Michael Hall

Plot: Picking up immediately after the previous film, escaped convict Michael Myers continues his mindless killing spree as the residents of Haddonfield form vigilante groups to hunt him down.

Review: We were looking forward to this one. The unlikely team of writers, directors and cast members who put together the 2018 Halloween raised the bar on the franchise and made it genuine scary in a way we hadn’t seen before. It was a fresh take and it worked really well. With the same cast and creative team reuniting for a full trilogy had our interest piqued, and the trailer for the follow-up promised an interesting new direction. The people of Haddonfield have not forgotten what befell their town when Myer’s returned home forty years prior and are determined to put him down once and for all.

Unfortunately Halloween Kills did not live up to our expectations. We were on board at the beginning, starting with the dickhead boyfriend from the previous film wandering the streets, unaware of the deaths already occurred. This promised to be a suspenseful film and it feels like the momentum of the last movie hasn’t warn off. Good start, but it comes to a grinding and unceremonious halt when we jump into a prolonged flashback. The new scenes set during the original 1978 movie are very well done, but feel like a novelty and it takes much longer than needed. The pace remains sluggish as we switch over a group of new characters going through a very forced introduction and exposition scene. Eventually, after 20 minutes of set-up and flashback, we finally pick-up where the last movie left us.

Michael Myers (Courtney and Castle) murders his way out of the burning house he was trapped in and sets out to find more victims. At this point the Strode women (Curtis, Greer, Matichak) arrive at a hospital where they’ll be safe from interacting with Myers and other aspects of the plot. We mostly follow a group of survivors of the 1978 attack looking to murder Michael, one being the father of dickhead boyfriend. Former protaganist Allyson joins in the mob, and this extra layer of danger does effectively raise the stakes. The problem is that this new group of characters and their story thread also don’t interact with Michael much through the second act of the film. Eventually this mob plot culminates with them chasing down an innocent man mistaken for Michael at the hospital. Whilst there’s a less-than-subtle social message here, it winds up being another too-long scene taking place far away from any of our main characters.

So Laurie and her daughter Karen get benched away from the action, the mob cast spend most of their time chasing down the wrong person, and Michael kills of random people who might as well be wearing red shirts. Some of these kills feel needlessly sadistic, such as a woman bleeding to death while watching Michael seemingly test out a couple of knives on the corpse of her husband. It’s a sad and gratuitous moment that fails to add anything to the character or the story. With every major character seemingly forbidden from interacting with each other through court-enforced restraining orders, it becomes hard to care about anything happening. The new characters, who are based on survivors of Carpenter’s original film, is a good idea, but all they do is explain why they want to kill Michael over and over again.

The durability of Michael has been one aspect of the character that stretches the realism, and it wound up being retconned to add a supernatural element to the lore. He seems to take substantially more damage than reasonable in this outing, shrugging off bullets with ease. There’s not much tension in a character who cannot be killed. It’s also quite obvious when they switch Michael out from the usual performer to slip in a Nick Castle cameo.

When this movie creates a small, enclosed story about a small number of people being hunted by one of cinema’s most terrifying figures it works quite well. They don’t fit into the larger narrative, however, because the other characters are always somewhere else and doing something irrelevant. Certainly not the worst the series has had to offer in the past, but hardly a worthwhile follow-up to the 2018 film.

Rating: FOUR out of TEN