19th Oct2021

‘Halloween Kills’ Review

by Matthew Turner

Stars: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Anthony Michael Hall, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Thomas Mann, Kyle Richards, Nancy Stephens, Robert Longstreet, Charles Cyphers, James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle | Written by Scott Teems | Directed by David Gordon Green

“Evil dies tonight!” That’s both the tag-line on the poster and a chant that erupts in this follow-up to 2018’s Halloween reboot-slash-sequel, wherein the townsfolk of Haddonfield decide they’ve had quite enough of masked killer Michael Myers and decide to take action into their own hands.

Intended as the second film in a planned trilogy from director David Gordon Green, Halloween Kills picks up exactly where its predecessor left off, with a badly injured Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) being accompanied to hospital by daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). Meanwhile, masked killer Michael Myers (Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney) somehow escapes being burned to death in Laurie’s cellar and starts stabbing and slashing his way towards the hospital.

David Gordon Green’s previous Halloween was a pretty decent sequel-slash-reboot, in that it successfully introduced some new ideas, while still paying faithful homage to the original 1978 movie and delivering a solid combination of tension, scares and grisly kills. Unfortunately, Halloween Kills is something of a disappointment by comparison, though it’s not for want of trying – there are a number of new ideas, but most of them are dreadful and backfire painfully as a result.

The biggest problem is that somebody has decided that indestructible bogeyman Michael Myers should be a metaphor for something. Cue lots of irate townsfolk – lead by, of all people, The Breakfast Club’s Anthony Michael Hall – shouting on-the-nose things like, “He’s turning us all into MONSTERS!” and “He’s an apex predator, man!” Unfortunately, no-one can agree what Myers is supposed to signify, metaphorically, so they just try and kill him instead. Is it a comment on American society’s intolerance and the obsession with violence? You decide, because evidently the script can’t make up its mind.

There are other problems too, whether it’s terrible dialogue or woefully misguided decisions such as the introduction of caricatured gay couple Big John and Little John (Scott MacArthur and Michael McDonald), who have renovated and moved into Michael Myers’ childhood home. Suffice it to say that whatever Green was going for with that sequence, it doesn’t land.

On top of that, the film completely wastes a game-as-ever Jamie Lee Curtis, leaving her stuck in her hospital bed for the majority of the movie, with nothing interesting to do. On the plus side, Judy Greer (who also has relatively little screentime) is a lot of fun – she wields one decidedly symbolic weapon particularly well – and there’s strong support from Matichak and Will Patton (returning from Halloween 2018 as a cop who was on the scene in 1978), though the rest of the supporting cast are distinctly unmemorable.

The level of invention that characterised the 2018 movie is also conspicuous by its absence this time round – for example, there’s nothing here that’s as good as the stalker / victim role reversal set-piece in the previous film. That has an impact on the plot too, most notably in the sequences where the townsfolk attack Michael – Green doesn’t have a convincing solution for why they don’t just cut his head off or shoot him repeatedly in the head, so instead they just resort to giving him a good kicking and hope that does the trick.

In fairness, the production team have gone out of their way to appeal to fans of the original movies this time round, so if you’re the sort of person who’s seen all eleven previous Halloweens, your enjoyment of Halloween Kills will likely be more than that of the average movie-goer. To that end, the film includes actors who appeared as children in the original film and creates some new backstory / mythology involving Thomas Mann and Jim Cummings as a pair of cops making poor decisions on Halloween, 1978. There’s even a fairly convincing (but still hilarious) Donald Pleasance lookalike.

Similarly, the film does at least understand its obligations to the genre, duly delivering a blood-soaked smorgasbord of nasty kills. The problem is that that’s all they are – there’s nothing involving tension, suspense, shock, terror or, god forbid, emotion, so they all feel a little off in execution.

In short, Halloween Kills all too often feels like exactly what it is, the middle film in a trilogy, treading water until the third part, next year’s Halloween Ends. Fingers crossed that Green has something good up his sleeve for the finale, because after the disappointment of Kills, Ends needs to go out with a bang.

** 2/5

Halloween Kills is in cinemas now.


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