Halloween Kills Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
An expanding cast, the return of older characters, more creative kills & yet, this new instalment ends up disappointing by trying to be too ambitious.
Genre: Horror / Thriller
Director: David Gordon Green
Cast: Anthony Michael Hall, Andi Matichak, Judy Greer, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Will Patton, Dylan Arnold, Robert Longstreet, Nancy Stephens & Nick Castle.
Run Time: 105 min.
US Release: 15 October 2021 (Peacock)
UK Release: 15 October 2021
German Release: 21 October 2021
It’s “Friday Fright Nights”! In the spirit of the season, as well as in anticipation of the last instalment of this new trilogy, I decided to catch up on my reviews for the new Halloween flicks, and give my thoughts on Halloween Kills. It was one of my most anticipated releases last year, yet due to a pesky thing called life, I managed to see it much later once it was available on streaming services in Germany. While the 2018 premise did set up a promising fresh take on the franchise, the sequel disappointed me on many levels. So, grab your weapon of choice then join me in the hunt for Halloween Kills…
Halloween night isn’t over! Minutes after Laurie, daughter Karen and granddaughter Allyson left the masked monster to burn in Laurie’s basement, Myers manages to free himself, escaping back into the town of Haddonfield. Now, The Shape's surviving victims have formed a mob, vowing to end his reign of terror.
Let me start by saying that this is one of the most frustrating movies I have seen in a long time! The screenplay contains both; brilliant ideas that build on the narrative of the original, expanding the plot of Carpenter’s classic, while at the same time going for bafflingly bad choices that pretty much undoes parts, of what its 2018 predecessor established. It would have been somewhat understandable, had it been due to a new team of writers, but it is once again written by the director and Danny McBride. The only plausible reason I can come up with is that the pandemic has given both too much time to revise the story!
Best about the narrative is, hands-down, the flashback to the Halloween night of 1978, right after Myers escapes. Audiences get to experience further carnage he caused, including how he was captured. It is a nice sentiment and paid a lot of tribute to Carpenter’s screenplay. Then there is the return of already established characters, from the original slasher, who come back as survivors of that night. The script also tries to implement an important message about mob mentality, possibly established due to reactions to COVID restrictions.
However, as noble as the intentions were to add those lessons of morality, it sadly comes off as pretentious! It steals good twenty minutes of runtime, trying to beat audiences over the head with it, adding nothing to the central plot. Then there is the fact that the storytelling is absolutely choppy, focusing on too many characters. It has no cohesiveness at all, jumping from one side arc to the next, with the lead persona sidelined.
The dialogue at least was revised, sounding much better than in the last flick, although still a little silly at times. It gets especially frustrating during the end of the second act, where dumb people keep repeating their new mantra “evil dies tonight” thousands of times.
Jamie Lee Curtis returns in her sixth recital as Laurie Strode, the original survivor. Marketed as the lead in Kills, it is sad to inform that this isn’t the case at all. The character of Laurie is completely sidelined to a hospital bed, having the least amount of screen time from all major personas. A past romantic relationship with another person is hinted at, though not explored.
Michael Myers is by far the best character in the whole feature. He really gets to shine, going on an absolute killing rampage, doubling down on the bloody violence! Nick Castle, together with co-actor James Jude Courtney lend the role, their threatening presence!
Andi Matichak reprises her role as Allyson, Laurie’s granddaughter. Seeking justice for the events that transpired in the previous feature, she joins Tommy’s group to kill Michael and end Haddonfield’s terror. Matichak keeps giving a good performance with what she has, though, her role sometimes gives into careless impulses.
Judy Greer returns as Karen, Laurie’s daughter plus Allyson's mother. She represents the other side of the spectrum, opposing Allyson’s view of justice. Her last scene is somewhat anti-climatic, deserving much better!
The survivors of the ‘78 massacre return as well. These are Tommy Doyle, played this time by Anthony Michael Hall, while Kyle Richards and Nancy Stephens reprise their respective roles from Carpenter’s original. Sadly, the characters were merely used to put something in Michael’s way.
Once again, the camera work is stellar! Director David Gordon Green and cinematographer Michael Simmons did a fantastic job at recreating the sequences that played in 1978. The colour of picture, just like the texture, looks as if shot on celluloid film. The present-day aspects are equally brilliantly captured, using a mixture of lingering shots plus pans to build up suspenseful unease. However, the last composition of cuts that intertwine Laurie’s monologue with Michael’s last kills on screen, feels like a completely different movie!
The effects blend once again practical with computer-generated imagery, though this time the CG has been polished. The brutality has been cranked up, there is much more blood and gore than in the previous film, which will leave fans of hardcore slashers satisfied. The setting is still Haddonfield, with the costume department doing a fantastic job at serving production with realistic clothing from the late 70s.
John Carpenter, together with his son, serve once more as the soundtrack composers. The classic tune is once again modified, alluding to the next step in a concluding arc.
Verdict: This sequel, to 2018’s sequel, that retconned the complete series, is very disappointing and feels rather like a placeholder for the final flick. The narrative has very little substance but includes terrible pacing issues jumping from one account to the next. Best were the flashbacks to the night of 1978! The lesson about mob mentality, which takes over a large chunk of the second act, can’t be taken seriously, with everything else happening around. The character of Laurie is pushed aside to make space for returning personas of Carpenter’s original, though they are simply cannon fodder for Michael's rampage. Any sympathy for the town of Haddonfield is completely lost, as they behave like dumb wild animals. The cinematography is well handled, except during the last few scenes, and the effects look good. Halloween Kills is a serious disappointment, that deserves a mediocre 5.5 out of 10.
Have you seen Halloween Kills yet? What did you think? Thank you for reading & please subscribe!