Halloween Kills, 2021.
Directed by David Gordon Green.
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Thomas Mann, Anthony Michael Hall, Kyle Richards, Nancy Stephens, Charles Cyphers, Nick Castle, James Jude Courtney, Jibrail Nantambu, Robert Longstreet, Dylan Arnold, Omar J. Dorsey, Brian F. Durkin, Jim Cummings, Scott MacArthur, Michael McDonald, Diva Tyler, Lenny Clarke, Carmela McNeal, Tom Jones Jr., and Colin Mahan.
The saga of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode continues in the next thrilling chapter of the Halloween series.
David Gordon Green’s Halloween direct sequel/reboot found a healthy balance between his depiction of the iconic Michael Myers (far more viscerally brutal, often focusing on delivering graphic kills instead of more traditional stalking and hunting sequences translating to an unshakable sense of dread, at least when it comes to John Carpenter’s original 1978 masterpiece), the filmmaker’s usual crude humor, nostalgia callbacks, and perhaps its most intriguing element, a traumatized and reclusive Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis returning to the star-making role) often perceived as a lunatic that had been preparing for the knife-wielding serial killer’s return to Haddonfield, Illinois. It was ambitious, aiming to mix slasher conventions with thoughtful characterization and an intergenerational look at its effects on the Strode bloodline. By no means was the movie amazing, but it came to a genuinely intense head with the damaged fully united (three generations of women fighting back against a crazed, unstoppable psychopath) turning the tables on The Shape.
The perfect ending was right there. Even if it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, David Gordon Green had a worthy story to tell, which is a rarity for this IP (which currently has three different timelines). I bring all this up because back when it was announced that David Gordon Green would be continuing this new timeline into a trilogy (Halloween Kills and, God help us all in a few years, Halloween Ends), it made no earthly sense from a storytelling perspective. Put a knife in it; take your victory lap from a generally well-received entry that worked on levels new and old. Of course, money talks. And that’s the only reason this garbage exists.
Once again, writing alongside regular collaborator Danny McBride (this time with Scott Teems joining in), Halloween Kills is clunky from its opening seconds, desperately finding a way for that night to continue with more mayhem. In doing so, it decides to sideline the characters we care about (Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie, alongside daughter and granddaughter Karen and Allyson, reprised by Judy Greer and Andi Matichak) to briefly insert new material from the initial killings in 1978 while also reintroducing viewers to a grown-up Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) in the present day.
With the killings all over the news and Laurie hospitalized from events at the end of the previous installment, Tommy decides that it’s time he protects the babysitter that saved his life that night. He plans to organize a mob to go after someone they can’t even identify other than wearing a mask. With rally cries boomed out to impatient crowds growing tired of waiting for news on injured loved ones (and those that are excited at the opportunity to incite further violence), Tommy’s speeches feel like something out of a MAGA rally, especially with ridiculous lines like “there is a bogeyman running around among us.” Shifting the story to Tommy is not inherently a bad idea, but it becomes one when the character is drawn as rage personified and unreasonable to unintentionally hilarious ends. Yes, anger is part of his grieving, but he isn’t written with half the amount of effort as Laurie one movie ago.
That’s only part of the problem, as Halloween Kills has absolutely no structure. It’s a skeleton of a story (the filler between another finale attempt) that’s constantly introducing pointless and bland characters serving as fodder for Michael Myers. That’s all well and good, but this time around, the comedy and dramatic elements don’t gel, and since Michael Myers is more sadistic than ever here (which doesn’t necessarily translate to creative and memorable kills), that it’s occasionally uncomfortable watching this brutality. There’s also a dosage of mentally ill exploitation that concludes with a repugnant graphic scene that should have never made the final cut. The entire subplot is offensive trash that doesn’t add anything of substance to expanding the concept of a traumatized family fighting back to a whole town taking up arms, wreaking havoc like a bunch of Neanderthals.
Even sensible and likable characters from the last movie are suddenly obnoxious idiots participating in the hunt without any real characterization. Hell, the trick-or-treating children are also unbelievably irritating, almost as if David Gordon Green is daring us to hope something terrible happens. Jamie Lee Curtis, the legend herself, also has one or two embarrassing scenes.
All of this is done to make an obvious point about mob mentality. However, the script also tinkers around with mythology, such as what Michael Myers really might be after. This leads to an eventual monologue where one character gives an eye-rolling explanation of what Michael Myers represents. Maybe one day, we will get an explanation of what everyone was thinking about while making Halloween Kills. A razor blade inside your Halloween candy would be easier to swallow than this trash.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com