In 2018, David Gordon Green rebooted, or perhaps just reinvigorated an old, tired franchise. Halloween (2018) was a surprisingly solid entry into the franchise, one that introduced us to an older, battle-weary Laurie and her family. Focusing on three generations of women, Halloween was a hit and only the first part of what promised to be an exciting trilogy. Now, Halloween Kills ends the wait and Michael Myers returns to our screens, ready to slash and stab his way through the innocent folks at Haddonfield.
Halloween Kills starts straight from where the first instalment finished off. Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) trapped Michael in a burning house and that should be the end of his reign of terror in Haddonfield. But Michael has always been more than a mere mortal, able to survive what a man can’t and as expected, he emerges from the flames, perhaps even more powerful than before.
But this time, the focus isn’t so much on Laurie and her personal trauma with Michael, but on Haddonfield as a community and what Michael Myers has done to the good people of the sleepy American town. They rise up, ready to kill Michael, chanting “Evil dies tonight!” enthusiastically as they march through the local hospital and on the streets, not dissimilarly to the lynch mob in Frankenstein. There are some interesting themes here, but they aren’t explored enough. What does living in fear for decades do to a whole community? Are monsters born or are they made?
It’s a fascinating angle, which is why it’s such a disappointment that Halloween Kills just doesn’t work. Is it gory? Yes. Is John Carpenter’s score insanely good once again? Yes! Does Jamie Lee Curtis kick ass as Laurie? She would if she was allowed! The film has so many things going for it, but nothing in Halloween Kills gels together, all of its elements are too chaotic to work together to create a coherent narrative. While visually neat and close to the original Carpenter classic, Halloween Kills also features some of the most stupid character decisions in a horror film.
The kills are plentiful and bloody, but never that impressive. There is plenty of spectacle and even satisfaction to be found in the way that Michael butchers and slaughters his victims; after all, that’s what we’re here to see, but we’ve seen it all before and if the narrative was better, the kills would work better too because we would be more emotionally engaged with the film as a whole.
Frustratingly, Halloween Kills mostly abandons Laurie to recover in a hospital. Curtis brings fierceness and fire into her most iconic role, but is severely restricted by the script, once again written by Green and Danny McBride, with additional help from Scott Teems. The script is full of clunky, expository dialogue and Halloween Kills is the cinematic equivalent of getting hit in the head with a hammer.
This is a frustrating middle part of a promising trilogy. Green’s usually confident direction seems to be missing here and while the film has plenty of familiar faces and great performances, it’s too scattered and rushed to leave a lasting impression. It does finally retain the female focus that made the first part so effective and intriguing, but it’s just too little, too late. There is still hope for Halloween Ends which is scheduled to arrive in October 2022, but it has some heavy lifting to do after Halloween Kills.
Halloween Kills is in cinemas October 15.