Movie Review: Halloween Kills betrays its characters in the franchise’s dumbest entry
David Gordon Green’s 2018 Halloween was a masterful take on the small but heavily storied world of Michael Meyers and Laurie Strode. It succeeded in not being another babysitter murder flick where horny teenagers get the knife as the sadistic masked killer goes from house to house. Instead, it turned the main survivor of the 1978 John Carpenter original movie, played by Jaime Lee Curtis, into a hardened and battle-ready warrior that weaponized her trauma while also training her daughter to also be able to defend herself.
Halloween Kills takes all of that and throws it out the window without much to offer in return, other than a dumb violent movie burdened with messy metaphors and unnecessary lore alterations. Sure, Michael Meyers kills, and some of the kills are satisfying to watch, but what ultimately gets butchered in the process is the core Strode family struggle the first movie worked so hard to establish.
In what’s the second movie in a trilogy that was originally meant to be a two-parter, Halloween Kills picks up moments after the ending of the previous movie to see Michael Meyers surviving the fire at the Strode house. Laurie, daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) drive off thinking Meyers is a pile of ash underneath the rubble they left behind, but little do they know that The Shape is alive and well, and royally pissed off to boot. Chaos ensues.
In an interesting turn on expectations, Halloween Kills takes Easter eggs to a new level by making characters from the original film take on larger roles in this one, shifting the focus from Laurie’s fight against the Boogieman and onto how Haddonfield itself figures into Michael Meyers’ plans (which the movie very lazily tries to reveal through exposition dumps, in addition to trying to convince audiences on the silly idea that the killer has a masterplan of sorts). In fact, it’s what lies at the heart of the movie. The Boogieman isn’t just someone’s problem. It’s everyone’s.
Things start to get very shaky here as the expansion of the mythos seems inconsequential and sidelines Laurie and her family’s story in favor of half-baked messages and forced alterations to formula. For instance, it turns out that Michael (intentionally?) exposes Haddonfield as the real monster as its people take arms to dole out justice by themselves in a spectacularly dumb show of mob rule that tries very hard to evoke images of the January 6th Capitol Riots, resulting in the tragic death of an innocent man in the film.
One character actually blurts out the movie’s message at one point, observing that the unruly mob has basically become Haddonfield’s real killer (an issue that is “fixed” by creating a smaller, more focused mob, it seems). What’s worse is that all the time spent setting the angry mob up is time taken away from doing anything meaningful with what the previous movie brought to the table.
On the killing side of things, the movie fulfills the promise of its title, but it does so at the cost of turning Meyers into another kind of slasher that shares more with Friday the 13th’s Jason rather than the one we all know and love by now. Not that there’s anything wrong with experimentation, but implementation is key for these variations on character to succeed. Halloween Kills does not approach this aspect convincingly.
Michael is at his most sadistic in this installment, but his signature ‘slow and intimate’ killing style feels too out of character. There is only one kill scene in which we get a glimpse of that behind-the-scenes sadism Meyers usually indulges in out of camera in previous entries, in which the victim gets several knives stuck to his back for no other reason other than to show how much violence truly drives the character’s identity.
Remember, this is the same killer that beheaded a cop in the previous film and turned the head into a grizzly Jack-o-Lantern, lighted candle included. We never see him carve the cop’s face in the style of a Jack-o-Lantern, but we know he likes to get creative with his kills. Halloween Kills’ focus on fast, action-heavy kill sequences rob him of that creativity.
David Gordon Green’s Halloween sequel sacrifices too much of everything for an uninspired and clunky sequel. Its most tragic casualty is Laurie’s story, which never reaches anything worth writing about other than clichés and stunted character development. It’s a shame. I had hopes for this new trilogy. All I was left thinking of was that everything should’ve been left wrapped up in 2018. Unfortunately, we still have one more movie to go.