Horror Movie Review: Halloween Kills (2021)

The middle film of a planned trilogy, Halloween Kills has been much anticipated ever since the surprising success of Halloween 2018. A sequel to the original movie only, it continued the battle between The Shape aka Michael Myers and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) 40 years later.

It was a hit and even those who had been burned by Halloween sequel after Halloween sequel (as well as Rob Zombie’s remake and sequel) had positive things to say. We know, we’ve seen every Halloween movie and suffered at times. Though we did really enjoy the 2018 Halloween movie so had high hopes for Halloween Kills.

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Unfortunately, it does fall short of those expectations. Missing the mark on several important points and lacking significant developments to make this feel worthwhile. It’s a middle film of a planned trilogy and feels it.

Directed by David Gordon Green and written by Green, Danny McBride, and Scott Teems. The film stars Jamie Lee Curtis, James Jude Courtney, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Anthony Michael Hall and Thomas Mann.

The film picks up directly after the previous entry but not before a quick detour back to Halloween, 1978. Where we see what happened after Myers was shot by Dr. Samuel Loomis and how he got caught. Arguably the best part of the movie, the detail here is astounding and it will warm many a horror heart to see Donald Pleasence again (excellent prosthetic work instead of CGI).

Once that nostalgia trip is over and done with, a new one begins, as at a bar several Halloween characters make their return. Tommy Doyle, Marion Chambers, Lindsey Wallace, and Lonnie Elam are all survivors who encountered Myers. Celebrating and remembering the dead on Halloween night unaware of Myers’ latest rampage.

Which brings us back to Laurie who is being transported to hospital alongside her daughter Karen, and her granddaughter Allyson. They’ve left Michael locked in the basement with the house on fire but local firefighters attending the blaze accidently free him.

Michael then murders all the firefighters (the movie’s second-best sequence) before cutting a bloody path through Haddonfield on his way home.

Word gets out that Michael is back and Haddonfield says ‘enough is enough’. Led by Tommy, it’s time to put a stop to evil once and for all.

Evil dies tonight.

That line there. It might have sounded great in the trailer but here, it’s hilariously and embarrassingly overused. A mob chanting it might be the cheesiest thing Halloween has ever done and that’s including Busta Rhymes fist-fighting Myers. It’s just one instance of the movie’s bad dialogue. Where everyone speaks in soundbites and repeats themselves over and over again while not actually saying anything important.

Evil this. Evil that. Michael must die. Etc. Etc.

It’s a real shame as the idea of the town rising up to battle the monster that has haunted them for 40+ years is interesting. The end result is just a bit toothless and seems designed to ‘say something’ about mob mentality more than anything else. The image of a mob of townspeople charging through a hospital to kill an innocent man isn’t emotional and thought-provoking, it just makes you roll your eyes. Worse though, it makes you root for Michael Myers and that should never happen.

Talking of which… Myers has had enough of subtly. Forget stalking, he’s grabbing the nearest weapon and going to town on anyone that gets in his way. There are moments where we get classic Shape behaviour but for the most part, it’s all about Michael dishing out violence in hard and heavy ways. It can be a lot of fun, especially with blood and gore effects this strong, but it doesn’t feel very Halloween.

Which is interesting because the ‘blank slate’ created by Halloween 2018 should have seen those involved take the franchise in a new direction but ultimately it doesn’t. Massive amounts of the film take place in a hospital. In fact, once there, Laurie never leaves it. While most of the focus ends up being on the realisation that Michael is heading to his childhood home. (Pour one out for Big John and Little John).

So, Michael is heading home… is that it? What happens next? Tune in to Halloween Ends to find out. Middle movie or not, it should at least have something to satisfy and the reality is, it just doesn’t. Aside from something that fans of the later sequels (the retconned ones) already know. So, blank slate results in ideas used already. How disappointing.

Maybe you think that’s too harsh and you’re able to get enjoyment out of the baby-steps story and bloody carnage. That’s great, we did enjoy parts of this movie but the fact is Halloween 2018 set the bar and this film fails to live up to it or capitalise on it.

At this stage, not just in Halloween but horror in general, characters this dumb shouldn’t exist. There are many instances where you’ll snigger at the dumb things people do but perhaps the worst one is how one character insists two others stay outside while he checks for Michael alone inside. His stupidity is rewarded with a death we don’t even see, aside from his mangled corpse afterwards. There’re no excuses for this kind of writing and the defence that one of the others was his kid doesn’t fly when he drove them to the house!

Halloween Kills feels like a waste of time but it does have positives. The aforementioned violence and effects can be a lot of fun. The tying into the original 1978 film more securely, the returning characters (even if we’d already seen a grown Tommy Doyle in Halloween 6), Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode and the likes of Judy Greer and Andi Matichak’s characters. These are reasons to keep on watching.

If you’ve been eagerly waiting for this film, set your expectations lower and you might enjoy it more. It’s not a bad film (as some are decreeing it) but it’s not a good film either (those calling it a classic are an interesting bunch). It’s a Halloween movie that sits squarely in the middle which is just so disappointing.

Halloween Kills
  • The Final Score - 5/10
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