REVIEW: Halloween Kills

Halloween Kills

The only thing shocking in Halloween Kills is that it came from same creative team behind Halloween (2018).

It’s Halloween night, 2018, and Laurie Strode’s home is ablaze. She (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and granddaughter Alison (Andi Matichak) are blooded and traumatised, but alive. The murderous Michael Myers, trapped in the basement, is assumed to have been consumed by the conflagration – if only.

Halloween (2018) returned Michael to his elemental roots, while presenting his inevitable return as a kind of generational trauma. Halloween Kills broadens the scope, but, in seeking to dramatise Michael’s impact on the whole of Haddonfield, loses focus on what makes him a compelling antagonist. Sure, he can massacre a dozen first-responders while still smouldering, but the fear here is that of a scary man with a big knife, or occasionally buzzsaw; not an icon of horror cinema.

This is a film where Laurie Strode, ostensibly Michael’s nemesis, is sidelined almost entirely1 – one of the narrative perils, one assumes, from setting the sequel the same night your heroine has just been stabbed in the gut.

Instead, we get a host of new characters, stoked into vigilantism by Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall, previously Paul Rudd in the now non-canon Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers), one of Laurie’s babysitting wards back in 1978. A disparate bunch, mostly under the influence of alcohol, they fare about as well as you might expect.

Halloween Kill‘s script, written by Scott Teems, Danny McBride, and returning director David Gordon Green, is enough to make you think that maybe Jeff Fradley, credited in Halloween (2018) and not here, may have been the mastermind behind the earlier film’s success.

There is nothing here akin to that film’s ambition – instead of Michael stalking unstoppably from house to house along the street, dispatching one victim after another, we, like Tommy’s would-be posse, are stuck waiting for Michael to inevitably pop up again.

A strand about Deputy Hawkins (Will Patton) and his actions back in 1978 (played there by Thomas Mann) is given prominence then dropped entirely, presumably to be picked up in the already-green-lit Halloween Ends.2

There’s some obvious meta-commentary in terms of how a misguided leader can stir up mob mentality with a catchy slogan and enough fear -though Tommy’s mantra, ‘Evil Dies Tonight’, also the film’s tagline, could equally apply to the franchise itself. Unlike The Purge franchise, Halloween Kills doesn’t even have a unique aesthetic to fall back on.

With a score and a look firmly stuck in Carpenter-land, and no memorable kills or characters of which to speak, Halloween Kills, like Michael himself, is a film trapped in old behaviours, unable to break free or even to die.

Let’s hope that Halloween Ends can improve its lot while giving Michael and ourselves a nice long rest.

  1. To the extent that I almost feel bad about featuring her in this review’s banner image.
  2. Shoutout to The Beta Test‘s Jim Cummings leading with his chin in the role of Hawkins’ inevitably ill-fated partner.

Author: robertmwallis

Graduate of Royal Holloway and the London Film School. Founder of Of All The Film Sites; formerly Of All The Film Blogs. Formerly Film & TV Editor of The Metropolist and Official Sidekick at A Place to Hang Your Cape. Co-host of The Movie RobCast podcast (formerly Electric Shadows) and member of the Online Film Critics Society.

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