John Carpenter’s 1978 slasher Halloween is the quintessential horror movie; even those who aren’t familiar with the genre know about the Boogeyman of Haddonfield and his taste for blood. It’s so beloved that it’s seen two franchise reboots/reimaginings and 12 entries that span decades. Michael Myers is a ubiquitous pop culture icon. So of course horror fans, both casual and hardcore alike, were ecstatic with the announcement of the next installment in the franchise reboot, started in 2018 by director David Gordon Green. But, despite delivering gnarly kills paired with delightfully nauseating sound design, Halloween Kills leaves the viewer scratching their head as to why anyone thought we really needed this movie.
Halloween Kills picks up right where Halloween (2018) left off. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is bleeding out from a stab wound in the back of a pickup truck, while her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) try to help stop the bleeding. Meanwhile, a squad of firefighters, quickly heading to the Strode residence to put out the raging fire, are unknowingly about to face the unkillable Shape. In one of many incredibly violent and well-choreographed set pieces, Michael Myers decimates the entire squad with a pickaxe and a massive chainsaw.
This Is All About Haddonfield
But, this is not just a film about Laurie and Michael. This is a film about the collective trauma of Haddonfield. We see some familiar faces, such as Kyle Richards and Nancy Stephens returning to play their original characters Lindsey Wallace and Marion Chambers, respectively. Anthony Michael Hall also takes up the role of Tommy Doyle, a character who also appears in the original Halloween film. These characters take the stage for much of the film, and while there is something interesting in examining the ripple effects of trauma after such a horrific series of murders, Halloween Kills squanders that potential.
Instead of diving into the struggles of these side characters, Green and his co-writers Scott Teems and Danny McBride opt for fan service in the form of flashbacks to the night of the 1978 film. It’s an awful lot of exposition for the 12th entry in the 40-year-old franchise. It ends up getting in the way of any type of character development. Green, Teems, and McBride rely on nostalgia here. They take up too much runtime in the past instead of focusing on the present.
Bland Performances And Entertaining Side Characters
These legacy characters also don’t bring much energy to their reprised roles. Instead, new side characters with just a few minutes of screentime are what add the much-needed spice to this bland slasher stew. Characters such as Big John (Scott MacArthur) and Little John (Michael McDonald) add shining moments of both comedy and terror. They’re a gay couple who live in the old Myers house, smoking joints and scaring kids. These are the characters I wanted more of and yet they’re just supposed to be fodder for Myers. No time is dedicated to creating emotional connections with familiar characters; it becomes another look to the past rather than building upon it.
Yes, Michael is meaner than ever, ripping people apart with knives, fluorescent light bulbs, his bare hands, and more. He’s always murdered indiscriminately, but here he racks up an even more impressive body count. Michael Myers is over it and is ready to take out as much of Haddonfield down as possible.
Halloween Kills suffers from second-installment-in-a-trilogy syndrome, a feature-length piece of filler meant to bring in the bucks and pad out a story that only needs two parts. The film certainly lives up to its name with the carnage that piles up on-screen. There’s no lack of creativity here, which almost makes up for the poor story choices and surface-level performances from a majority of the cast. Halloween Kills is camp at its most literal; a piece of media that is trying to be taken seriously but unintentionally devolves into something incredibly ridiculous. For that, it’s a fascinating watch. But for the diehard Halloween fan, prepare to be disappointed.