A while ago, back in 2018 I wrote a review for David Gorden Green’s “Halloween,” and in that review I wrote: “The new ‘Halloween’ film is by no means a fantastic sequel to the original ‘Halloween.’ However, it is still leaps and bounds better than the other schlock that came before it.” “Sequel” is the word of the day because while there are plenty of sequels out there that act as a worthy successor to the films that came before it (ex: “The Godfather Part II,” “Empire Strike Back,” “Evil Dead 2”), there are just as many films that fall victim to sequelitis. Much to my dismay, as well as the critics and audiences’ dismay, “Halloween Kills” falls prey to this.
Directed once again by David Gordon Green, written by Green and Danny McBride, and produced by Miramax and Blumhouse Productions, “Halloween Kills” stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Nick Castle, Will Patton, and Anthony Michael Hall. It is the direct sequel to 2018’s “Halloween.” After a flashback to 1978, this movie immediately follows the ending of the last film with Laurie Strode, her daughter Karen and her granddaughter Allyson driving away from the burning Strode house. Their triumph over Michael Myers, aka “The Shape,” is cut short when local firefighters accidentally rescue Michael from the fire, letting him loose! Meanwhile, Tommy Doyle, whom Laurie Strode protected from Michael back in ‘78, hears of Michael’s escape from the state hospital and gathers a mob of citizens to protect Laurie and to bring Michael down!
Now, from that description alone, you’d think that the creators of “Halloween Kills” are turning this film sequel into a kind of “actionized” sequel, kind of like what James Cameron did with “Aliens,” but no.
I’m going to get all the good about this movie out of the way first, if only to then contrast it with the bad bits to showcase my frustration.
Good cinematography, editing, mise-en-scène, and sound are vital to the science of what defines horror filmmaking, and the crew behind “Halloween Kills” have done their homework at least with that.
A noteworthy sequence happens halfway through the film, in which a patient is chased through the hospital after being mistaken for Michael and makes good use of mise-en-scène, cinematography and editing. As the man frantically tries to escape the mob, running for his life as the mob is nipping at his heels, I as the viewer felt a palpable sense of tension and anxiety as the man was about to be swallowed up by the rage-fueled mob. This is done by using tracking, low angle and lingering shots, intercut with frantic editing and dirty and dark hallways as the mob is about to lynch the poor man.
Now, for the bad. As said before, the movie has some lackluster acting and a frankly mediocre narrative.
As for performances, many of the actors phone in their performances which, at best, feel hollow and/or overblown, with even Curtis, Greer and Matichak, who at times leave much to be desired. In terms of narrative, countless times throughout the movie, characters make all the same stupid mistakes as with other bad horror movies, which makes the audience groan. They keep repeating the same tired and cliche tropes associated with the genre, which kills the mood. My ire goes especially to the movie’s terrible ending. With most movies, if you wow the audience with the ending it can sometimes save the picture, but here, the filmmakers make one hackneyed decision that, much like Michael Myers with his victims, kills any potential narrative payoff and in turn, the entire film.
“Halloween Kills” feels less like a worthy sequel to the potential created by the 2018 film it follows, and instead only offers gory kills for the sake of cheap thrills and setting up an unnecessary trilogy. Worst of all, this soft reboot tried to avoid the pratfalls of the retconned movies that preceded it, only to make all the same mistakes again and aggravating audiences. If you want to experience “Halloween,” look elsewhere.