A middle mis-step in rebooted horror trilogy/tetralogy
After a year-long delay due to the C-word (Not Christmas and no, not that one either), the 2nd part of David Gordon Green and Danny McBride’s rebooted series of Halloween franchise (Or 3rd overall as these are intended to be straight sequels to John Carpenter’s genre-defining 1978 classic) picks up where the 2018’s confusingly named Halloween (Yes, Halloween is a sequel to Halloween. And you thought Halloween Kills sounded dumb. Which it does.) left off with Laurie Strode (played by the flawless Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and her granddaughter (Andi Matichak) speeding off from the burning house in which they trapped Michael Myers in the basement to put an end to the 40 years of mental torture, whilst the first-responding Fire Department head in the opposite direction. It is there which we find out that Myers has managed to hide in a steel cupboard in safety before clambering to safety after being unwittingly assisted to safety by a fireman.
He then slaughters the entire department, with the method and creativity of the kills, involving spiky poles, axes and chainsaws, really setting the tone of what we are in store for, (just in case you were unsure what an 18 certificated Halloween movie was going to include.) We are also treated to some 1978 flashbacks of what happened in the aftermath of Michael Myers being shot by Dr Loomis, falling from a window and then disappearing at the end of original (Remember, 1981’s Haddonfield Hospital based Halloween 2 doesn’t exist in this timeline) in which Michael encounters another child called Lonnie Elam and get more of a background to Officer Hawkins, who we were introduced to in Halloween (2018).
The performances from the cast are quite good on the whole but they are hampered by an atrocious script. Almost every line uttered seems to exist for the sole purpose of being used as a soundbite in the trailer or to serve as fan service (Charles Cypher’s returns as Leigh Brackett and recycles his line from Halloween (1978) “Everyone is entitled to one good scare” in A) a manner that makes no sense and B) why would he remember a throwaway comment he made 40 years previously to two teenage girls?
Jamie Lee Curtis is obviously here but what isn’t obvious is why we have to wait until 60 minutes into a 100 minute long film until we get any meaningful interaction from Curtis. It is nice to have Kyle Richards reprising the role of Lindsey from Halloween (1978) whereas Michael Anthony Hall plays Tommy Wallace 40 years on. The problem here is no-one really stands out. No-one is particularly awful, in spite of the script, but no one is excellent. James Jude Courtney’s ‘The Shape’ is an imposing figure but this is down to great horror nuances in the cinematography rather than a good acting performance. And it’s in this where the movie kind of falls down…
Halloween Kills feels very much like the middle part of a series of movies. The plot just bumbles along with no Michael Myres-esque purpose or stride and you just get a sense from very early on that there won’t be a conclusion, or at least not a very satisfactory one. And it isn’t, it’s confusing and convoluted and just a bit of a let-down. The violence also feels very gratuitous. I’m a fan of violence in a movie, particularly in a horror movie, but this does very much feel like stabby for stabby sake. It stops becoming fun. That being said, there are some very creative kills including a skull-cushing, eye-gouging double whammy, a gunshot reversal via a car door and a teenage boy becoming one with a bannister via the neck. Also, fans of the Halloween saga should look out for the Halloween 3: Season of The Witch easter egg in the playground scene and the nod to Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 in regards to Michael’s diet.
Halloween Kills isn’t very good and it’s all down to the script. It’s clearly made by fans of the series but to call it a movie for the fans would be disingenuous. The dialogue is littered with numerous little fan service titbits that it just becomes annoying after a while. The inclusion of an aftermath in 1978 was interesting and good, but by the end it becomes absolutely pointless. There’s a scene with another escaped inmate which is just eating up time and seems to be pushing some kind of pseudo-political message, but it is either too dumb to come across clearly or I’m too dumb to understand it and neither of those are a good thing. I have very little doubt that the 3rd (or 4th) instalment will finish satisfactorily when released October 2022 as it is clearly in the hands of very talented writers and producers based solely on the strength of Halloween (2018) and this is nothing more than a middle ground mis-step. Unfortunate.