Directed By: David Gordon Green, Written By: David Gordon Green, Danny McBride & Scott Teems, Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak & James Jude Courtney.
The very first review I did for this site was for 2018s Halloween, a film that, despite its flaws, I very much loved. I tend to get a little giddy with excitement whenever a new movie in a franchise that I love meets my expectations. As a reviewer, it can be a tad detrimental, as an honest review should incorporate the lows as well as the highs. I have to reign in my inner fanboy so as not to appear a blinkered zealot.
Much like its 2018 counterpart, Halloween Kills is not without its flaws, and I might as well address these first, so I can focus on what I loved about this film later in the review.
The humour is as good a place to start as any. While a little humour here and there can be regarded as a welcome break from all the heavy exposition and bloodletting that a film like this brings to the table, I’m not sure it has any place in a Halloween movie. After all, the 1978 original was hardly a gag-fest. In fact, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m struggling to recall a single line of dialogue from 78 that could be classed as a witty one-liner, and I watch this movie religiously, each and every October. I guess it’s to be expected that you might get the odd ‘penis’ joke when you hire the writer of Your Highness.
My next gripe is similar to the one I had with the 2018 film. The inclusion of the subplot involving the escaped mental patient, who is (for some weird reason) mistaken for Michael and chased through the hospital before plummeting to his death. Sure, it makes for a cool shot of a dude lying on the floor with his brains having evacuated his head, but it feels shoe-horned in and drags you out of the story in much the same way as the god-awful Dr Sartain subplot from the previous movie.
The final niggle is the biggest. The point of this ‘retcon’ was to erase the continuity of the sequels that came along during the 80s and 90s and start anew. I had my grumbles about this for a start, but after having enjoyed Halloween (2018), I got used to the idea. The baffling thing about Halloween Kills is, they spend so much of the movie paying homage to the various sequels that you have to question the point of this overhaul. Let’s look at a few examples. The majority of Halloween Kills takes place at Haddonfield Hospital, much like Halloween 2 (1981). Laurie Strode (Jamie lee Curtis) isn’t in it much, again, like Halloween 2. The Silver Shamrock masks from Halloween 3 – Season of the Witch (1983) have a cameo. The people of Haddonfield decide that enough is enough and start a lynch mob, much like Halloween 4 – The Return of Michael Myers (1988). Michael becomes an unkillable force of nature, much like he did in later films that failed to address why this very human man in a mask can’t seem to die. I know they introduced the whole Cult of Thorn thing into later sequels, but I’m not even going to pretend to know what that was all about.
In some weird, Twilight Zone way, Halloween Kills accidentally retcons Halloween 2 back into existence. So, why bother retconning the franchise at all if all you’re going to do is borrow heavily from that which you seek to ignore?
Okay, with that out of the way, I’ll go into what I loved about this movie. Pretty much everything else. When I watch a slasher movie, I rarely worry too much about logic. If I did that, I doubt my love of the genre would have lasted all these years. As passionate as I am about John carpenter’s original, it isn’t without its flawed logic. How many times does Laurie attack Michael before dropping her weapon and failing to make sure the fucker is actually dead? I can say the same about many of the slasher greats. The whole ‘Jason Voorhees becomes the killer’ is a huge fiasco if you really stop and think about it.
Let’s start the positives with the man, the myth and the legend that is Michael Myers. Halloween kills’ Michael is a unit. A pissed off and not gonna take it anymore, one man carnage machine. This is Michael at his most brutal, as he stabs and slashes a path of gore-soaked mayhem on his way back to his family home, where it all began forty years earlier. No one is safe from his savagery, whether they be man, woman, child or EMT. If you get in his way, you’re dead.
The flashbacks to 78 were, in my humble yet worthless opinion, brilliant. The scenes that take place after the events of the original film feel so organic. It felt like watching some recently unearthed cut footage. My tiny mind was blown by how they brought Dr Loomis (Donald Pleasance) back to life, using (from what I understand) a mixture of practical and digital effects.
It didn’t bother me too much that Laurie was side-lined. It makes perfect sense that she needs time to rest and heal after the events of the last movie. If she is going toe-to-toe with Michael for Halloween Ends next October, she is going to need her strength. Laurie, unlike Michael, is still very human and very killable. Having her hop out of bed and slug it out with the masked maniac would have been ridiculous.
Halloween Kills is, at its core, a love letter to the slasher movies of yesteryear. It’s gleeful in its unapologetic brutality, and I get why that might irk some who love the (relatively bloodless) original. I am and always will be a fan of Carpenter’s movie. It sits forever in my top five favourite films, but I have no problem adapting to a more violent rendition of Michael. I accepted it in the 80s, when each sequel became more about the bloodshed, trying to outdo that which came before, in much the same way as the Friday the 13th series did.
Once again, the score by John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter and Daniel A. Davies is excellent and will find its way into my vinyl collection very soon.
Halloween Kills, while scaring up big business at the box office, seems fairly divisive, with people either loving it or hating it, depending on what you read. I consider it a triumph and can’t wait for Halloween Ends.