David Gordon Green’s Halloween was a breath of fresh air for both the stagnant franchise and the slasher genre as a whole; discarding 40 years of poor sequels and subpar remakes, the filmmaker crafted a direct follow up to John Carpenter’s classic 1978 original that was part sequel, part reboot, part remake and all fun.
Announcing two sequels is a double-edged sword in many regards, because it signposts right from the off that the middle chapter isn’t going to tell a complete story. Hell, Halloween Kills doesn’t even bother trying to forge a competent one, with Green intent to lean so heavily into formula and cliche that it’s almost as if he got carried away by the opener’s success and just decided to give the diehard fans exactly what they wanted at the expense of everyone else.
The narrative opens with a lengthy flashback to 1978, filling in some more gaps in the backstory of Will Patton’s Frank Hawkins, who accidentally shot his partner right through the neck in an example of inadvertent example of expert marksmanship before somehow missing Michael Myers four times from almost the exact same range. It’s very stupid, but don’t fret; things get a lot stupider from then on out.
Perhaps the single biggest criticism to be aimed at Halloween Kills is that 99% of the characters to appear in the movie are complete and utter f*cking idiots. Suspension of disbelief is important to horror cinema, especially a series that revolves around a seemingly unkillable boogeyman, but the various residents of Haddonfield are some of the most boneheaded and one-dimensional archetypes you’ve seen on your screen in a long time.
Even by the standards of people who exist within the framework of Halloween Kills‘ mythology, you find yourself questioning their motives at every turn. Why do they just stand there and wait to be murdered in brutal fashion? Why does everybody have a gun, but nobody is able to use it regardless of their proximity to the target? Why has the local hospital suddenly become the congregation point for an angry mob? When did Michael Myers turn into a hybrid of Jason Bourne and an indestructible supervillain? Why is everybody lying to each other’s faces about almost everything? Why is everyone convinced that they’ve got the right man when they chase an escaped convict who happens to be a foot shorter than Michael and wearing prison-issue clothes instead of a boiler suit? Green doesn’t care about answers to any of these questions, so neither should you.
The most egregious sin committed by Halloween Kills is that it sidelines Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode for almost the entire running time. Having been badly wounded during the last film’s third act, she’s in bad shape, and she remains confined to the hospital throughout. The legendary scream queen only getting a handful of scenes, and one of them involves a self-administered shot of painkillers to the butt. It’s admirable to try and mix things up so the focus doesn’t remain solely on Laurie for all three chapters of the trilogy, but Curtis’ fiery presence and star power is sorely missed.
If you want to see blood, guts and gore without any sort of buildup or tension, then Halloween Kills comes highly recommended. Long gone are any semblance of jump scares, things going bump in the night, misdirection or sleight of hand. Michael shows up, he brutally offs a number of people and then he’s off to the next set of victims. Rinse and repeat, with no deviation from that rote setup whatsoever.
The relationship between Michael and Laurie has powered the franchise for 43 years, and yet it doesn’t factor into Halloween Kills at all, other than Laurie regaling Frank with her portentously-scripted opinions on why her arch-nemesis has become so consumed by the bloodlust that’s apparently elevated him into genuine monster territory based on how often he gets shot, stabbed and bludgeoned from the first to last minute without showing even the slightest hint of any side effects.
The script by Gordon Green and Danny McBride is weak and riddled with cliches, while the transparent attempts at getting topical are so heavy-handed as to be laughable. For longtime fans there are plenty of Easter Eggs, nods and winks that are sure to generate a reaction and it remains endearingly reverential to John Carpenter’s work, but as a whole Halloween Kills is slasher 101.
It’s put Halloween Ends in a very tricky position, especially when you consider Curtis has already warned us that a lot of people are going to hate it. Halloween Kills isn’t a bad movie, but it isn’t a particularly good one either, with the writing and direction on autopilot as gruesome set pieces try their hardest to provide all too irregular jolts of excitement. It’s 105 minutes of wheel-spinning bookended by some extra world-building and gallons of blood, but Halloween Kills feels like a huge comedown after the adrenaline rush provided by its predecessor.
Halloween Kills is a huge comedown compared to its predecessor, offering plenty of blood, guts and gore to satisfy fans but little for everybody else in a by-the-numbers slasher sequel.