Having never seen any of the sequels that followed John Carpenter’s slasher classic, the arrival of 2018’s Halloween was in many ways a blessing-in-disguise for me since it wiped the slate clean by effecting a retcon of earlier entries and was a direct follow-up to the 1978 original. It freed the franchise from all the baggage & inconsistency and allowed it to pave its own new path. And while not without its shortcomings, the film proved to be a worthy sequel that opened up new directions for this slasher franchise to dive into. But Halloween Kills effectively kills all of that.
Completely clueless about what it wants to be or where its priorities lie, the newest addition to the saga is an absolute train-wreck of a sequel from start to finish. A dull, pointless & incredibly frustrating entry that’s all over the place, never settles into a rhythm, is unable to figure out what its tone needs to be, and is also unsure of its very own identity, the film is an array of one bad decision on top of another and squanders all that was up for grabs. It simply sidelines the main protagonist and goes in directions that are not only warranted but also uncalled for.
The story of Halloween Kills picks up right where its predecessor signed off. Just minutes after Laurie Strode & her family leave Michael Myers trapped & burning in her basement, they see first responders headed to her house in flames where these firefighters inadvertently free the boogeyman, thus allowing him to resume his killing spree once again. As Laurie recovers in the hospital from her injuries, all the survivors of Haddonfield massacre that unfolded 40 years ago learn about the unstoppable monster on the loose and decide to take matters into their own hands.
Co-written & directed by David Gordon Green, it is as if none of the writers had any idea whatsoever about what to do or where to go and just decided to wing it. The story goes back-n-forth, spewing the same stuff over n over again, and even indulges in some unnecessary revision of franchise mythology. Green does the bare minimum of threading together the various subplots that branch out of its dumb premise yet go nowhere and has no consideration for proper flow of unfolding events & tightly-knitted structure. Just the way it jumps from one scene to another is bound to infuriate many.
Being the middle chapter of the new trilogy, Halloween Kills could’ve easily gone for a lean-n-mean, no-holds-barred, kill-n-thrill galore and would’ve gotten a pass. But it decides to discard everything that the previous chapter paved the road for by shifting the focus from Laurie and investing in the trauma of other survivors of the Boogeyman’s first rampage. And it’s carried out so awfully that we as viewers are never for once invested in these characters. They are blandly introduced, are mere cardboard caricatures, are terribly sketched by the writers, and only become more irritating as the plot progresses.[tabs] [tab title=”Checkout” icon=”iconic-info”]10 Classic Black and White Horror Films that still Hold up[/tab] [/tabs]
If Green’s intention was to capture the lifelong trauma that Michael Myers inflicted on not just Strode & her family but also the entire Haddonfield community, he could’ve done far more and done it way better than what he delivers here. The way things develop and lead to the mob mentality storyline is just contrived, laughable & predictable from afar. What’s meant to be serious only ends up being hilarious here, and not in a good way. But it’s not just the narrative aspects that are poorly executed here, the film is also devoid of the build-up, tension & menacing atmosphere and even Myers’ looming presence takes a hit this time.
There are only a couple of things in Halloween Kills that actually work in its favor. First is the gleeful, gnarly & grisly kills. It’s done creatively, it’s unflinchingly brutal, and it provides the slasher thrills fans came looking for. The Boogeyman leaves a trail of corpses after his escape from Laurie’s cage and even proves to be inhuman & unkillable in the end. His masked menace, formidable aura & ruthless brutality is depicted with a glorified sense of admiration and the iconic character lives up to his terrifying legend. And the second thing that improves the journey by a little is John Carpenter’s chillingly effective & thrilling score.
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There is no point talking about the performances since everyone chips in with mediocre inputs, including Jamie Lee Curtis. But then she also doesn’t have much to add or do here after being demoted to a secondary role in her own franchise so it’s not entirely her fault either. The man behind the mask is sensational on screen but that’s always a given. The rest of the reprising actors like Judy Greer, Andi Matichak & Will Patton were serviceable in the last film and are no different here. Among the new additions, Anthony Michael Hall goes all hyper & hammy as one of Myers’ survivors who leads a vigilante mob to hunt the evil down once n for all.
On an overall scale, Halloween Kills is a terribly directed, shoddily scripted & abysmally acted sequel that adds nothing of value to the franchise lore and falls way too short & too far from what was expected from this newest entry. It is one thing for a film to be underwhelming and another for it to be absolutely cringeworthy and this latest chapter in the saga is unfortunately the latter. Its flashback scenes are more or less distractions, new characters have no weight to them, performances are forgettable, and it even made me root for Michael Myers as he violently slaughters a lot of stupid, annoying people in creative ways in this latest offering. And that’s perhaps the only positive thing I can say about this unsalvageable mess.