Well folks, if you’re a little horror hound (like me) then you will be pleased to know that a big horror film has arrived this weekend. Its arrival is a little later than expected, due to a year-long delay brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, but I am happy to say that it is finally here!
What is this ‘it’ I am referring to? Why, the new Halloween sequel, Halloween Kills, of course!
But you already knew that, didn’t you? And it’s not just because the title of the movie is up there at the top of this post; but because advertising for Halloween Kills is everywhere right now and you simply can’t escape it.
The publicity machine is in overdrive for this movie, which is being viewed as the biggest horror release of the year. And if you have been waiting patiently for its arrival, you need wait no longer.
If you live in the UK, you can catch Halloween Kills in cinemas from today. If you live in the US, you can also watch the movie on the big screen, or you can view Halloween Kills from the comfort of your own home via the Peacock streaming service.
Directed by David Gordon Green, Halloween Kills stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, and James Jude Courtney. The movie picks up directly after the events of 2018’s Halloween and sees heroine Laurie Strode discover the horrifying truth that serial killer Michael Myers survived the fire at her home.
In the movie, the burnt, but very much alive, Michael, heads back into the town of Haddonfield to continue his killing spree. But keen to stop him in his tracks, the local citizens band together to take on the masked killer.
Can this rag-tag group of vigilantes end Michael’s reign of terror, or are they all set to become knife fodder? Answers are revealed in what is one of the most brutal, and sadly most disappointing Halloween movies to date.
I wanted to begin this review by telling you how much I enjoyed Halloween Kills. I wanted to tell you the film built upon the foundations of the 2018 movie, to provide another satisfying entry in the Halloween series.
Before I saw this film, I imagined that my review would include the words ‘bold’, ‘dynamic’, ‘thrilling’ or ‘exciting’. Heck, I hoped that I would be telling you I just witnessed a superb Halloween film, on par with the original. But sadly, I cannot tell you any of this.
The words ‘bold’, ‘dynamic’, ‘thrilling’ and ‘exciting’ will not feature in my critique of Halloween Kills. In their place, the words ‘excessive’, ‘frustrating’, ‘boring’, and ‘messy’ spring to mind.
Remember how the 2018 movie felt like a strong step in the right direction, after years of missteps with the Halloween films? Yeah, well Halloween Kills is more of a shuffle backwards.
Halloween Kills is a jumbled picture, which doesn’t quite know what it’s doing, spends far too much time doing the wrong thing, and feels like a film without a workable script.
It’s not the worst Halloween movie to date, so don’t worry, it’s not the sort of nonsense served up in Halloween: Resurrection (2002), but it does feel misjudged. There’s a sense that this film was all put together in the editing room and the end result is not satisfying.
The biggest problem with Halloween Kills is the script. The story on offer in this latest entry is simply not good enough.
Whereas the story in the previous film felt fairly tight and mostly cohesive, with a great degree of suspense, the story this time around feels too hectic, too disjointed, and too discombobulated. There is too much going on in this film, and the combination of all the different ideas derails everything.
There is a story about Michael returning to Haddonfield on a murder spree. There is a plot thread about the local citizens forming a mob. There are scenes set in the 1970s, which fill in details about the past. There is a story beat about the survivors of the 1978 attack, and how they have coped over the years. There are a couple of flashbacks to the 2018 film. Oh, and somewhere amongst all this, there are a few scenes featuring Laurie Strode (more about this in a moment).
Now, some of the above plot ideas are interesting, and do work, but they only work in small chunks. There are flashes of something here and there, but none of it quite comes together.
Do I want to see how the residents of Haddonfield deal with the return of Michael Myers? Sure I do – a collective form of grief is fascinating! But do I want to see endless scenes of mob mentality, including a prolonged sequence of angry town-folk marching around a hospital? No, I do not.
In fact, I don’t think I ever want to see a hospital again, because this film spends a ridiculous amount of time in this one location. Michael doesn’t – he wouldn’t be caught dead here – but every other character seems to pop in Haddonfield General (or whatever it’s called), and boy, does it slow things down.
And yes, this means Laurie is here too. Following the events of the previous movie, Laurie Strode is whisked over to the local hospital, and I am afraid this is where she stays.
I’m sorry to say that Jamie Lee Curtis has very little to do in this movie. The bad-ass Laurie Strode that we met in the previous film is still here, but she spends the vast majority of this movie stuck in a hospital bed – and it’s not the first time this has happened in a Halloween film.
Remember 1981’s Halloween II? Remember how Laurie had very little to do in that film? Well, this is more of the same.
In fact, a great deal of this movie seems to follow the Halloween II playbook. Not just with Curtis being given barely any story, but in the way this movie approaches its violence and its depiction of Michael Myers.
In terms of the violence angle, Halloween Kills is brutal. There are many, many death scenes in the movie and some of them are really quite gory.
Do I have a problem with violence in a horror film? No – I expect it. But do I have a problem if a high kill count and excessive violence is used to paper over a weak story? Hell, yeah – and this is exactly what happens in Halloween Kills.
In terms of the death rate and sheer level of violence on display, Halloween Kills has to be one of the more violent entries in the Halloween films series. Now, this wouldn’t be a problem if the violence felt earned or was in some way interesting, but it isn’t!
There is simply too much death in this film. Kills are dragged out to the Nth degree, and the sheer amount of blood and gore used here comes across as a distraction technique, presumably to stop everyone from noticing the really boring bits of the film.
Well, plot twist, many of the really boring bits of the film are the excessive kills! The first few death scenes are fine, but then they go on, and on, and on.
I was bored, the people over the aisle from me were bored, and the trio of (barely) 18-year-olds who were sat in front of me stopped paying attention to the film completely! One of them was on Tinder. That’s how invested she was in Michael’s killing spree!
But then, I can hardly blame her, because it wasn’t just the killing that felt never ending, it was also Michael’s durability, which seemed to reach new levels of absurdity. For a 60-year-old serial killer, Michael sure has stamina!
In previous Halloween movies it has been made fairly clear that Michael is pure evil, and can’t really be killed. Many have tried, including Busta Rhymes, but all have failed.
However, in 2018’s Halloween, this idea of a Terminator-like serial killer was largely downplayed, so that Michael could be repositioned as a man. A dangerous man, but a man that could be killed, if given the right opportunity.
Well, forget all that, as the Michael in Halloween Kills appears to be back to indestructible levels once again. This means burning him, beating him, and stabbing him all become kind of pointless, and so too does the very notion of defeating this guy.
And herein lies the biggest rub of the whole movie. If Michael really is as hard to defeat as Halloween Kills makes out, then what is the point?
And I’m not just asking this question for me, I’m also asking it for the man who sat two seats across from me, who let out a huge sigh of frustration during one particular scene where Michael seemed near invulnerable. This sigh – which was pretty loud by the way – spoke for a number of us in the audience who felt somewhat exhausted and exasperated by this turn of events.
Yes, we all know that Michael’s invulnerability is par for the course with Halloween films, but with that last movie it felt like we had really turned a corner. But no, there are no corners here, just one big loop.
I’d like to tell you that I found at least some small delight in Halloween Kills, but I’m struggling to think of anything. Well, maybe an unexpected cameo, which was good… but that’s about it.
Jeez, even the music – composed by John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies – didn’t feel quite up to scratch. The score for 2018’s Halloween was great and came from the same trio, so I’m not quite sure why this didn’t hit the right notes for me, but it didn’t and it all felt a little underwhelming.
And a little underwhelming pretty much sums up my whole experience with Halloween Kills. As already highlighted, this isn’t the worst of the Halloween series, but it’s certainly not the greatest.
Will this put me off the next instalment? No, I’m a sucker for these films, but I will say I am now significantly less excited about 2022’s Halloween Ends.
Going into this movie, I really hoped Halloween Kills would continue where the last film left off. In many respects it does, but not in the way I would have liked.
I hoped to see Laurie and her family band together with the Haddonfield survivors to fight Michael and kick his ass once and for all, and while there are big elements of this in the movie, they’re not quite the right elements for me. It tries, and has some strong ideas, but it all falls short.
Halloween Kills isn’t dreadful, but it is disappointing. I just hope things can be turned around for the next movie.