Director David Gordon Green
Screenplay Scott Teems, Danny McBride, David Gordon Green
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Thomas Mann, Anthony Michael Hall, Kyle Richards, Nancy Stephens, Charles Cyphers
The first thing one knows when going into the movie Halloween Kills is that, contrary to what Laurie Strode insists, there is a pretty sure bet that evil doesn’t die tonight.
After a delay of one year and its sequel already in the can, we have to know that no matter what happens in the penultimate film of the Halloween series there’s going to be one more round of watching The Shape skulking about from place to place looking for victims. At least for the first two films of the Green series, they get the skulking right.
This film starts out by completing the retcon of the original films sequels. We get a visage of Michael in his early prime right after he walks away from Loomis’ several shots. These scenes actually work right up to the point where we are shown a digital character. Then it feels cheap. That feeling doesn’t stop there.
We then move to a local bar, where we get to see Tommy (Hall) and the original Lindsey (Richards). For some bout of logic only available in this strain of films, they are accompanied by Nurse Chambers (Stephens), who was there with Loomis when Michael stole the station wagon in the original. Why in the hell would a nurse from Smith’s Grove be hanging out in a bar with two kids from The Night He Came Home? It’s over 100 miles away from where she worked. The answer is obvious. She’s there to reenact the same scene from the car 40 years ago. That’s all.
Halloween Kills is filled with many moments that have to happen just so, in order to make the kills adhere to some sort of echo to others from films that have been wiped out of existence. It is intended, just like in the previous film, as a tribute. The result worked within the confines of the story of the first new film. This time, it just leads to a mess.
One of the more egregious storylines references the vigilante justice of Halloween 4, with similar results. The mob has an almost comical interlude in the second act as the pitchforkers mill about in supposed pursuit of their target. This scene shows a group of rubes chasing so slowly, one character has the opportunity to go against the grain, then take a break in a hospital room, then somehow get ahead of everyone, getting there first. It’s stupidity without precedent.
It’s obvious that the writers had no concept of how to move from their first attempt onto whatever conclusion they are planning. The bulk of Halloween Kills wanders back and forth between various parts of Haddonfield and the hospital. Townsfolk move back and forth from chaos into individual groups, then back to chaos, depending on who needs to die.
The thrill of seeing characters from the original film is muted by the chaos of the script. Some (Cyphers, Richards, Stephens) are from the original. Others are new actors. The goal of making the town of Haddonfield into a vengeful mob is hamstrung by the fact that the filmmakers have no real idea what they want to do with this mob.
As many problems as the first film has, there are some excellent sequences. This time the good sequences are much fewer. Richards gets a good one, and Michael has a glorious moment ripping through a house near Laurie Strode’s burned down residence. As mentioned earlier, The Shape’s movements are concise and terrifyingly performed by James Jude Courtney.
If for no other reason, they got Michael right. They do show him too damn much, as in the previous entry. The scene where he mows through the firefighters is odd and absurd. Who would ever wait for someone to walk (in a cheesy overlayed portrayal) out of a burning house after two of their compatriots screamed and didn’t come out? Only actors being forced to increase the body count. That’s who.
The soundtrack, once more by John Carpenter, his son Cody and their friend Daniel Davis, is the most powerful aspect of the film. It feels more like a blitzkrieg to Carpenter’s work on the original’s spare orchestra, but hey, it’s Michael Meyers in giant 4K glory. We need sounds that gouge, too.
There are some agonizing attempts at exposition, including an odd soliloquy by the doctor operating on Strode (Curtis) and the very loud pronouncements by one of the cops at the Strode house aftermath. Curtis and Patton get a chance to chew the fat of their history while sharing a hospital room. They absurdly present both characters bending into the parts that had been damaged in the previous film, with no reference to the pain they must be experiencing.
The end result is as dumb as any film in the series. No one looks good here, even though the kills are in remarkable High Definition. The red herrings are obvious, the police are more inept than ever and the town seems more insane than Michael. The result will create more laughs than gasps.
But, I know me. I will watch it all again. And again. And I will watch Halloween Ends opening night 2022 knowing full well the title has to be a lie. Michael lives in our minds much more spectacularly than he ever will be presented again on film. The first film did make it all possible, even if it’s obvious they could never possibly come close to replicating the feeling. They only borrow it.
(*1/2 out of *****)