Halloween Kills Lacks the Spark That Made the Previous Film Shine

Dept. of Masks, Mayhem, and Middling Sequels


2018’s Halloween masterfully deconstructed the legend of Michael Myers, before reassembling it piece by bloody piece. Halloween Kills, a direct sequel by the same team, that takes place on the same night, feels like it was made by a completely different group of filmmakers. A far less talented group.

The combo of David Gordon Green, Jeff Fradley, and Danny McBride seemed like an unlikely trio to breathe new life into the Halloween franchise in 2018. After nine films, three different timelines, and a complete reboot with two movies, it seemed like there was little left to say about Michael Myers or Laurie Strode. Not only was 2018’s Halloween a funny, scary, slasher movie, it also managed to examine the generational trauma Myers had visited on Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her family, and the town of Haddonfield, Illinois.

So much of what made that film great is completely missing here.

After two completely unnecessary flashbacks to Michael’s original rampage, Halloween Kills picks up as Myer’s once again manages to cheat death. After being ensnared in Laurie Strode’s death trap house and set ablaze, he’s soon back to his old trick, blazing a murderous trail across town.

The result is incredibly uneven. The slow dread of the previous film is all but dismissed as Michael’s initial kills fall completely flat. Later sections do feature some horrifyingly inventive kills that really revel in the slasher spirit, but any shock you may feel is as much a result of how much better they are to what comes before or after.

Poor Laurie…

Criminally underused

Halloween Kills feels like it has multiple themes it wants to explore but doesn’t know how to fit them all into a single film. Unlike the previous movie, which unwound with predatory precision, fleshing out characters while throwing a few surprises in here and there, like the role of Haluk Bilginer’s Dr. Sartain, the pacing here feels scattered.

Halloween Kills wants to explore how 40 years of being terrorized by the same “Boogeyman” would traumatize the citizens of a town, how those who had a chance to end his evil didn’t have to deal with that guilt, whether Laurie’s assumption that Michael is actually after her may be incorrect, and what that means for how she’s lived her life, and how the madness of crowds can lead to an even worse evil. None of it, however, is given time to breathe.

The film confines Curtis’ Laurie and others (no spoilers!) to the hospital, but then fails to set up either her daughter, Karen (Judy Greer), or granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak), as a replacement. They spend too much of the movie being ignored while they scream at other character as Anthony Michael Hall’s Tommy Doyle, another character (though not the actor) from the original, tries to fulfill their role as defender of the town.

I like Anthony Michael Hall – who doesn’t – but while his performance in this is fine, the material is all over the place. From a weird monologue on the horror of Haddonfield, delivered at a Halloween talent show in a bar, to constantly repeated catchphrases that very quickly lose any power they might have had, it’s just one baffling decision after another.

It even feels weirdly shot, with far too much of the action shot too close, or at weird angles.

Michael, You’ve Got a Lot to Answer For

Despite the impeding arrival of another entry in the Scream franchise, the inhabitants of Haddonfield don’t seem to have seen a single movie in that franchise as they blunder into horror tropes. “Evil dies tonight?” More like “stupid dies tonight,” as roaming groups of Tommy’s vigilantes constantly split up. Making them all too easy for Michael to pick off. Even a group of burly fire-fighters politely line up to be murdered, one at a time, instead of ganging up on Michael. Someone even says “I’ll be right back. Don’t they know you never say that in a horror movie.

There are some highlights. A presumably gay couple stalked by Michael, Big John (Scott MacArthur) and Little John (Michael McDonald), feel a little like Stu Macher and Billy Loomis from Scream if they’d grown up and settled down together. Bringing back characters and actors from previous films is also a neat touch. From small roles like Diva Tyler from the previous film, to the original actors who played Lindsey (Kyle Richards) and Marion (Nancy Stephens) in the original, but we get nothing about these characters except how they are defined by Michael.

Apart from Big John and Little John, there are no glittering bursts of character like the “Bahn Mi cops,” or the kid who’d rather be at dance class than go hunting, from the previous film. Instead, it’s replaced with unengaging mass hysteria and people acting at each other. No amount of cute font use or references to Halloween III: Season of the Witch can make up for that.

Perhaps Green, Fradley, and McBride planned for their trilogy to echo the path of Michael Myers himself. Taking him from mortal serial killer to mythical, unkillable Boogeyman, but this movie feels like a messy stumble on that path.

Halloween Kills now showing in cinemas

Irish Film lover lost in Malaysia. Co-host of Malaysia's longest running podcast (movie related or otherwise ) McYapandFries and frequent cryer in movies. Ask me about "The Ice Pirates"

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