Director: David Gordon Green
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Thomas Mann, Anthony Michael Hall, Kyle Richards
Run Time: 100 mins
The Halloween series has had a tough life that has experienced sequels, spin-offs and reboots, all in an attempt to try and recapture the magic of John Carpenter’s iconic 1978 original. This was until the unlikely duo of director David Gordon Green and comedian Danny McBride hatched an idea together and wrote their own treatment. Their concept ignored the various sequels and instead acted as a direct continuation of the original film, picking up where that left off 40 years later.
Halloween (2018) was an excellent sequel and the duo demonstrated a clear understanding of the components and ideas that made the original work. It chose to explore the psychology of central franchise character Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and how her horrific experience in the original film has haunted her life and shaped her relationship with her two generations of family. Its final act left a clear and satisfying finality to iconic villain Michael Myers.
Or so we thought…
Halloween Kills is a sequel to Halloween (2018) and franchise villain Michael Myers’s decidedly grisly fate in the conclusion of the previous film has been reversed. Green remains in the director’s chair and on co-scripting duties with McBride, and they are joined by writer Scott Teems. The rest of the cast and crew remain virtually the same, with Jason Blum producing, as well as John Carpenter returning for scoring duties with his son, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies.
Allegedly, Green and McBride had always envisioned a trilogy for their story. Halloween Kills picks up directly where Halloween (2018) ended and sees Michael Myers embark on yet another murderous rampage. There will be a final entry set for next October entitled Halloween Ends.
It’s difficult to decipher if plans for two sequels had always been in mind or if Blum’s production company Blumhouse, wanted to cash in on the revitalised appreciation of the franchise, following the positive critical reception to their first effort. The case for the latter is significantly more compelling.
Halloween Kills is a terrible entry in the franchise and undoes most, if not all of the good work that its predecessor accomplished. It is hard to believe that this retrograde effort has come from the same creative minds. The film’s script is particularly weak and there are many lines that are borderline laughable. Characters do not act authentically and dialogue exchanges feel wooden and unnatural.
The film has a handful of interesting ideas, such as the notion of mob violence and how the residents of Haddonfield are hurting and want to move on with their lives. But they don’t know how or where to direct their anger. This could have been a novel direction for a Halloween film but the execution defies logic. Characters split up when in groups to hunt for Myers, the mob leader Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) has several call to arms and they act unnaturally. There is a particularly ill-judged sequence set in a hospital at the climax of the second act that is designed to portray the negative effects of mob violence but again, the execution is laughable.
Halloween Kills is one of the more grisly entires in the franchise and certainly earns its 18 rating. The kills are generally repetitive but there are a handful of creative kills tossed into the mix, coupled with some interesting camera angles from cinematographer Michael Simmonds. Unfortunately, there is generally no sense of palpable tension preceding any of the kills, resulting in a rather empty film.
For what is designed as a trilogy, Halloween Kills suffers badly from middle film syndrome. Jamie Lee Curtis is sidelined for the majority of the film and and when she features in the film, she is saddled with terrible dialogue and some implausible character actions. It’s hard to invest in the multiple subplots that Green and McBride to stretch out for an entire film when you are aware that there is another film to go and that they’ll have no consequence.
Halloween Kills shows the beginnings of signs of spurting into life towards the end of the third act but then it makes a terrible and cheap narrative choice to end itself on a shock and there are mighty chasms of lack of logic and common sense portrayed by the mob.
Even the score, which John Carpenter has a hand in, isn’t as effective this time around. The trio had managed to conjure some memorable and innovative themes last time around, whilst honouring the score of the original. Save for a sequence between Myers and Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) that has a compelling score, this effort is largely devoid of any spark.
It’s such a shame that the magic couldn’t be captured a second time around for this cast and crew in this cynical sequel. Halloween Kills represents a complete 180 from Halloween (2018) and the notion of a trilogy was an ill-conceived, money-grabbing concept from the start. It is rote, its story, characters and dialogue often laughable and ill-judged and it is offensive to the point of undoing a lot of the good work that had been achieved in its predecessor. Halloween Kills is one of the worst films of the year and is generally a complete misfire and at this point in time, it is hard to see if and how Halloween Ends can redeem this trilogy.