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Movie Review: Halloween Kills

by Jason Koenigsberg

Michael Myers is back and so is the blood and carnage in the twelfth movie of this long running horror franchise with the latest installment, Halloween Kills. What started back in 1978 as a little independent movie with John Carpenter’s Halloween has become arguably the most influential slasher movie of all time spawning forty plus years of sequels with various timelines. Well a new timeline was started when David Gordon Green stepped into the directors chair for Halloween (2018) and he is signed on for a trilogy of films. Halloween Kills is the second and it does feel like the neglected middle child of the three films. Not a lot of the same TLC that went into reinventing and reimagining the Haddonfield from his previous Halloween picture and none of the thrills, technical expertise, or superb performances that made that picture a standout in the series can be found here. What Halloween Kills has in spades are callbacks to the previous films and they replace the scares with gore… lots and lots of blood, guts, and gore.

The opening shot is of the sky at night and we see balloons tied to a chain link fence. An uninspired choice but then we hear a male voice and it is the boyfriend of Allyson (Andi Matichak), the granddaughter of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). This second Halloween follows in the footsteps of Halloween II (1981), the first Halloween sequel in the sense that both of the second movies pick up the moment where the previous film left off even though they are both released three years later. For the record Halloween Kills was meant to be released in October 2020 but COVID spoiled those plans. The boyfriend finds the police officer played by Will Patton lying on the road and the last time we saw him he was stabbed in the neck by Michael Myers’ doctor. It then cuts to a flashback from Halloween night 1978 and does a redo of what happened directly after the events of the original 1978 movie. We see a younger version of Will Patton’s character make a fatal mistake but the police end up capturing Michael Myers anyway. The opening credits roll with that iconic John Carpenter theme and we see Laurie Strode and her daughter and granddaughter driving away as fire trucks head in the opposite direction and she screams to “let him burn”. Of course every trailer for this film showed that and ruined what comes next as Michael Myers escapes what we thought was his fiery death and goes on to inexplicably kill the entire fire brigade with their own equipment.

Depending on what the viewer brings to this film will determine how they react to the violence. Halloween Kills is exceedingly bloody. So much that it is surprising that it did not get slapped with an NC-17 rating. It almost feels like it celebrates violence and revels in the bloody carnage as the camera lingers on images longer than the usual R-rated movie would. To a certain extent this feels more like a Saw movie than a Halloween film. The audience expects a certain amount of violence in their horror movies but since nothing else in Halloween Kills stood out as particularly memorable the graphic violence and gore feels like desperation. An attempt to make an otherwise mundane movie into something shocking and memorable. Obviously from the get-go Halloween Kills was meant to be a bridge between the first film that reinvigorated the franchise and whatever grandiose conclusion David Gordon Green and his writers and producers have in store to finish this timeline of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode. The next film is titled Halloween Ends.

Regardless of how the viewer will feel about the violence there is no forgiving what the screenwriters have done with Laurie Strode. Jamie Lee Curtis gave one of her strongest and best performances of this part of her career in the previous Halloween and her reward for that was to stick her in a hospital next to a bleeding Will Patton and recite lines of dialogue that could never sound plausible no matter how great an actor delivers it. Jamie Lee Curtis is a great actress and she deserved way better than this. Once again like the 1981 Halloween II she is stuck in a hospital except this time she is dealing with an angry mob that is blood thirsty for vengeance from what Michael Myers did to their hometown. It is unsure exactly what the filmmakers were trying to say about angry mobs and the dangers of a mob mentality but things escalate in the hospital pretty quickly and with no real motivation. Any character from the 1978 Halloween that had a name and survived that film are shown here as older or in adult form and they are on a mission to kill Michael Myers. The vigilante theme does not really entice much to the story. Anthony Michael Hall is the leader of the crusade of townspeople against Michael Myers and he is a fine actor just not given anything worthwhile to do. He is the grown up Tommy Doyle and he was written as very one dimensional, so much so that I would rather have Paul Rudd as Tommy Doyle from the sixth entry Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995).

Halloween Kills ends abruptly and has some exciting moments but is never truly scary. The thrills are nonexistent this time around. It does enough to keep the viewer interested in what will happen next but the payoff is never rewarding and never comes close to being frightening. There are a few nice touches for fans of the series who may notice the masks from Halloween III (1982) and other references to the previous films especially the first one but those are not enough to recommend the picture. Unless the viewer really just wants to see blood and gore and is a die hard fan of this slasher series then Halloween Kills will satisfy their bloodlust. Otherwise most people should probably sit this one out and hope that David Gordon Green and his team can deliver a more rewarding conclusion.

This Halloween movie may underwhelm but the score composed by John Carpenter is the best part.

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