HALLOWEEN KILLS Review: Logic Dies Tonight In Entertaining, But Uneven Slasher Sequel
David Gordon Green successfully revitalized the Halloween franchise with his impressive 2018 effort, and while this sequel shows flashes of inspiration, Halloween Kills leaves a lot to be desired.
To paraphrase Nietzsche: Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become... a complete moron.
John Carpenter's Halloween is rightfully regarded as a true horror classic, eschewing gore in favor of mounting tension and suspense, while introducing the world to one of cinema's most iconic movie monsters: Michael Myers.
While Halloween 2 has its moments, the subsequent sequels moved further and further away from what made the original so special, until we ended up with Busta Rhymes defeating Myers by electrocuting his nuts with a "trick or treat, motherf*cker" for good measure in 2002's wretched Halloween: Resurrection.
The boogeyman had become just another run-of-the-mill maniac - a pale imitation of the terrifying force of nature who stalked the streets of Haddonfield all those years before. So, when director David Gordon Green and co-writers Jeff Fradley and Danny McBride announced their plan to completely disregard the sequels and deliver a true follow-up to the 1978 film, most fans wished them luck... while keeping their expectations in check.
Though Halloween 2018 was far from perfect, Green and co. did an admirable job of continuing the story, wisely focusing on Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her attempt to overcome the trauma of her past by putting an end to "The Shape" once and for all. It was well-written, clever, tense, and just violent enough to appease the more seasoned gore-hounds.
Unfortunately, Halloween Kills has more in common with the sequels Green retconned out of existence.
Following an impressively-realized flashback which fills in some gaps in the night Myers was apprehended, we pick up right where the last film ended as the masked madman escapes his fiery prison and massacres a group of first responders. From there, we follow Mikey on a brutally bloody rampage across Haddonfield while Laurie recovers in hospital and the townspeople - Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) and Lindsey Wallace (Kyle Richards) among them - assemble a posse to hunt their tormentor down and end his reign of terror.
Having Haddonfield rise up against Myers is an interesting idea, but the execution (no pun) leaves a lot to be desired. The movie goes to great lengths to make (well, hammer home) a point about the dangers of mob-mentality and giving in to fear, but it's all far too heavy-handed to really have much of an impact. At one point, Tommy and his idiot friends chase down another escaped patient in the belief that he's Myers, despite the fact that the poor guy looks more like Danny DeVito than the 7-foot beast they've all seen on the news. And the stupidity doesn't end there.
Nobody expects characters in a horror movie to always take the most rational course of action (if they did, nobody would ever get killed), but when common sense and logic go completely out the widow, it strains credibility to the point that it's difficult to care what happens to anyone. Here, we have people firing guns in every direction but at their target, forgetting they have guns in their hand when Myers attacks, running towards danger alone when they have a numbers advantage, seeing someone quite clearly dead on the ground and dropping their weapons to go check on them anyway - you name it, if it's going to lead to their grizzly deaths, these asshats do it.
Fortunately, Curtis, Judy Greer (Karen) and Andi Matichak (Allyson) once again do terrific work in the lead roles, and the film comes alive whenever any of them are on-screen - which is nowhere near enough. Sidelining Laurie does make a certain amount of sense if their final face-off is being saved for Halloween Ends, but it feels like the movie is trying to find a way to fit the other two into the bozo brigade's story when it should be the other way around.
And yet, Kills does show fleeting glimpses of greatness. Green is a strong director, and there are some lovely visuals and brilliantly-executed sequences in amongst the carnage. Carpenter's simply stunning score also makes a most welcome return (with a few tweaks), enhancing any scene it accompanies.
Then we have the kills. Look, if you're just here to see a masked lunatic hack people to pieces in increasingly sadistic and inventive ways, then Halloween Kills has you covered and then some. It's never particularly scary or tense, but there is more than enough bloodshed on offer to keep slasher aficionados entertained.
Halloween Kills has its moments, and If Green manages to pull off a worthy conclusion with next year's Halloween Ends, this may work better as a middle chapter designed to showcase the sheer brutality of Michael Myers before his inevitable final confrontation with Laurie Strode. As it stands, though, it has to be considered a disappointing instalment after the promise of the last film.