Movie Review: “Halloween Kills”

Whether you liked the 2018 reboot of Halloween, any slasher fan oughta be grateful for it. It had been more than a decade since Rob Zombie’s remake (an enjoyable, flawed film, in my opinion) and about a decade since the slasher genre had been fully, actually relevant. The string of misfiring remakes and sequels, like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Texas Chainsaw 3D, and fun films like the Friday the 13th remake and Scream 4 failing to build any traction. We have to live through it, often settling for table-scraps while other subgenres received a full course meal. Horror maestros like Don Mancini and his string of direct-to-video Chucky movies helped keep the flames lit, but, what we needed was a breakthrough blockbusters to reignite everyone’s interest. In spite what you might think of it’s quality or where it may land in the annals of Michael Myers’ illustrious and sometimes misguided history, Halloween (2018) was that film.

Grossing over a quarter of a billion dollars at the box office, Halloween brought us the most successful slasher film since Wes Craven’s 1996 film Scream. Since then, Chucky is about halfway through the first season of a new series, Scream is receiving a reboot of its own, Candyman received a successful reboot, and every other day, it feels like a new film is being announced as in-development. One can only hope lesser known series’ like Terrifier are able to find some type of benefit in the genre’s reemerging popularity.

Halloween Kills is the sequel to that film. Once more directed by David Gorgon Green and written by Green, Danny McBride, and Scott Teems, respectively, and once more following the lineage established from the original classic (and ignoring everything else after that – a choice I’m entirely in support of). Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her role as Laurie Strode, with Judy GreerAndi Matichak, and Will Patton reprising their roles from the last film. James Jude Courtney dons the mask and wields the knife, and Anthony Michael Hall and Thomas Mann join the cast.

Lemme start off by saying how excited I was for Halloween Kills. Delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, moviegoers waited a full additional year to see Michael Myers and friends again. Whether the anticipation built or dwindled, I can’t say for certain, but I was really enthusiastic and optimistic about the film. In part, I believe that is how I am with nearly every reboot of a popular franchise. For instance, although I thoroughly disliked A Nightmare on Elm Street’s remake, I left, excited for a sequel. Setting aside every other problem with that film, I know I would have liked it a lot more had it been fumbling with its own original material instead of fumbling what had already been done well in the original film. Likewise, as much as 2018’s Halloween film was an effective and well-made film, I knew I would of enjoyed the pedigree and technique more applied to a more original film, in this case, less beholden to the original Carpenter film. To me, at its core, 2018’s Halloween was mostly a better version of Halloween H20‘s concept, and although necessary and logical, kind of humdrum because its own familiarity. Say what you will about Zombie’s film, I would rather watch it any day of the week over the 2018 reboot, if only because it feels different and unique (in the end, I actually give both films the same rating, however).

Halloween Kills is set where the last film ended, seeing Michael Myers arise out the flames and continue to wreak havoc on Haddonfield. The film sees the series return of Tommy Doyle as well as Haddonfield’s townspeople banding together to try and stab Myers once and for all (til Halloween Ends and the probable reboot, of course).

It is November 6th I write about Halloween Kills, in spite the fact I run a horror website and in spite the fact it premiered on the Peacock subscription service on October 15th. Some of that’s because I’ve been busier lately. I’ve been working more on Nightmare Shift’s horror anthology and preparing novels for book expos and comic conventions. More of it though, is something different. When I watched Halloween Kills, I didn’t have anything to say about it. At all, in fact.

As you may’ve guessed, I am not a fan of Halloween Kills.

I don’t like writing damning critical reviews of a film, per se. I do it sometimes, if inspired to, but, for the most part, I try to write about what I like and single-out the good in a film I don’t. Likewise, when I saw critics massacring the film while horror fans championed it, I didn’t feel like I had the energy for it.

The film isn’t all bad. I mean, the score is on-point, and is, in fact, even good, as is a lot of the cinematography and general camerawork involved. In the same way the reboot is a high-quality production, Halloween Kills feels like a high-quality production. Likewise, too, the core cast mostly delivers, with Jamie Lee Curtis continuing her role at war with Michael Myers, and her family carrying on that tradition. The scenes are violent and bloody, and I’m here for that, in full.

Anthony Michael Hall’s performance as Tommy Doyle, however, does feel goofy and melodramatic, which may be in part how he was written, rather than a criticism of the actor himself. The symbolism and sentiment of the film both feel inconsistent and unearned, whereas the whole film feels riddled with sloppiness and oddball decisions. The whole mob story arc feels heavy-handed and cliched, and furthermore, I found it dull and uninteresting altogether.

I think, really, that’s what it comes down with for me with Halloween Kills. I don’t meet it with any strong disdain, per se. Instead, I would mostly say I was bored by it. I love slasher films in spite the hit-and-miss ratio, and I am all for Michael Myers slashing his way through a new generation of unsuspecting victims, but, like its successor, I think Halloween Kills largely concerns itself with “rhyming” with the Carpenter film, at the expense of nearly everything else. I feel like the mentality for both films, but especially this film was, how do we give throwback to old characters and give them something to do, and not, what is the best story to come next. This made it feel very mechanized and shambolic, and like the sequel Halloween Ends with have a lot of heavy lifting to do in-order to make sense of it all.

I hope you liked Halloween Kills. If you haven’t watched it and want to, I hope you end up liking it altogether. I really do. For me though, I found it to be one of my least favorite of the series.

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