Halloween Kills - New Release Review
Director: David Gordon Green
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Anthony Michael Hall, James Jude Courtney
Written by: Danny McBride, Scott Teems, David Gordon Green
Produced by: Malek Akhad, Bill Block, Jason Blum
Cinematography by: Michael Simmonds
Original Score by: John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, Daniel A. Davies
Michael Myers has survived the fire at Laurie Strode's house and now he is on a rampage through Haddonfield.
If you have any reservations about when “Evil” is scheduled to die, then this film will certainly ease those concerns for you. ‘Halloween Kills’ picks up directly after the climax of ‘Halloween 2018’ in which Laurie Strode, her daughter Karen and her granddaughter Allyson managed to goad Michael Myers into the basement (which was actually a long devised and cleverly conceived trap bunker) and burned it to the ground. Unfortunately for our three leading ladies, as with previous alternate timeline ‘Halloween’ sequels, Michael Myers just will not quit and he somehow manages to escape the inferno with fairly minor burns to wreak havoc on Haddonfield.
But what Michael may not have expected is that Haddonfield also will not quit. The town has had enough of his bullshit and now it’s time to fight back.
I was a fan of David Gordon Green’s 2018 direct sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 classic. Despite some obvious flaws I felt that it was a very well written (albeit a tad predictable) continuation of Laurie Strode’s harrowing story. It took a more serious and realistic approach to Michael Myers, the maniacal serial killer and gave Jamie Lee Curtis plenty of screen time, which is never a bad thing. I liked how it also tackled some of the family issues that did originally introduce itself in ‘Halloween H20’ 20 years prior.
‘Halloween Kills’ takes a slightly different approach pretty much from the outset. Beginning with the surprise discovery that Officer Hawkins is still alive, we are treated to some amazing flashback scenes featuring Dr. Loomis (previously played by the legendary Donald Pleasance) brought back to the screen by eye-boggling incredible practical makeup, portrayed by Tom Jones Jr. and voiced by Colin Mahan. This sets up what feels like an unnecessary subplot featuring Hawkins in which he believes that it was his actions that fateful night that has ultimately caused all the deaths since. Who knows, maybe this will come back around in the third installment due out next October but it just felt like an avoidable plot point.
Much of the rest of the film is divided into two main story brackets. Michael Myers continues his rampage on the town of Haddonfield, presumably trying to make his way back to his childhood home and the townspeople, led by random vigilante Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) and a few other legacy characters who begin the manhunt to take Michael out once and for all. Evil truly will die tonight…
(PS it doesn't)
In fact too much of the film is hampered by Tommy, Lindsey, Marion and Lonnie desperately making the audience aware that Michael has been still spiritually haunting Haddonfield and even after 40 years the town remains fearful of his return. It’s not a terrible concept and l, like most original ‘Halloween’ fans, were salivating at the prospect of revisiting old characters and perhaps exploring some of their story. However it all felt very rushed and didn’t quite fill me with the nostalgia I was hoping for. Within the space of five minutes Doyle and friends literally go from tipsily reminiscing about the old days to brandishing weapons and chasing a mysterious phantom who they lazily assume MUST be Michael. This kicks off a chain of events that lead to essentially the whole town coming together to kill Michael, or at least attempt to. It’s also a highly unsubtle commentary on the dangers of mob mentality, something that has been burned into our brain the past few years on the back of some tragic real-life events that have transpired and the influence of social media platforms. It’s trying to say something meaningful about the notion that “normal” people can be turned into monsters with little persuasion based on fear and vengeance. It’s a message that could’ve worked well if it was handled with a little more sensitivity and awareness rather than rushing into it “balls to the walls”. The hospital scene towards the end of the mob sequence is especially hard to take. In David Gordon Green’s defence though it does feel like this film is trying to harness some of the energy from the later sequels in the “would people actually say or act like that” sense. A question that often arises when watching horrors from the 70s and especially the 80s and seeing how silly some characters behave.
Like most sequels, ‘Kills’ does everything bigger and badder. The kill count here is significantly higher and with added violence and gore. Maybe some of the kills are ruefully unwarranted but this is a slasher afterall and who doesn’t love seeing Michael take people out with reckless abandon eh?
I’ve seen some negativity surrounding too much fan service but I am here for it. This film IS for fans of the ‘Halloween’ franchise, despite this film's very existence eradicating multiple sequels, some beloved and some not so much. There’s even a lovely nod to ‘Season of the Witch’ that put a huge smile on my face. David Gordon Green and his director of photography Michael SImmonds certainly do their best to pay homage to the John Carpenter and Dean Cundey visionary partnership, which for me is the greatest Director/DoP team in cinematic history.
I think the films number one fault is not giving enough screen time to Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer and Andi Matichak, who all excelled in the 2018 film. Clearly a sacrifice that the filmmaker and writers thought was needed and warranted so they could focus more on the inhabitants of Haddonfield itself. The film inevitably suffers from being the “middle” part of the story and I do believe that my love for it will only grow after seeing ‘Halloween Ends’. A tad disappointing but one that will be better appreciated with more viewings.
- Gavin Logan