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Review: Halloween Kills

Somewhere between David Gordon Green's Halloween in 2018 and his new sequel, Halloween Kills, the residents of Haddonfield have lost the ability to make any kind of logical decision. This is particularly odd since this sequel continues on the same night, October 31, 2018. While Green's revitalization of John Carpenter's beloved Michael Meyers and Laurie Strode was fun, this sequel is a mess.

Don't worry if you haven't rewatched the 2018 film recently, Green provides plenty of flashbacks here to catch you up. We left Michael Meyers burning in the basement trap that Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her daughter and granddaughter trapped him in. They assume they had killed Michael. As Halloween Kills opens, it is clear they have not. The townsfolk seem to know about how dangerous Michael is but their decision-making and survival instincts are odd gone here. This dumb behavior routinely robs the film of menace. The insane brutality Meyers inflicts here crosses into a cartoonish quality that also keeps the film from being scary. Most of the time it is just gory. It is hard to care about anyone outside of the Strode family because everyone is just so dumb.

At the root of the story here, there is an interesting idea. What if the people of Haddonfield decided to rise up and fight Meyers. The notion of a town fighting the thing that has caused so much fear and pain is fascinating. The execution of this idea is riddled with dumb decisions. There is an intriguing back story of Officer Frank Hawkins (Will Patton). We see his initial encounter with Meyers when he was a rookie cop and learn of his personal vendetta against the boogeyman. We also revisit the kids who survived the original Halloween. Tommy (Anthony Michael Hall) is given particular focus alongside Lonnie (Robert Longstreet), Lindsey (Kyle Richards) and Marion (Nancy Stephens). Tommy gets the most time, even overshadowing Laurie here. He wants to kill Michael and his storyline leads the film into odd territory. Particularly when it wants to make a statement about mob mentality in a scene involving another escaped inmate.

When Laurie, her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) are the focus, Halloween Kills is compelling. Too often, they are sidelined in favor of the townsfolk and Tommy's storyline. The film's tone is all over the place. If we are meant to care about these people, then why are they killed in such brutal ways? The film revels in gore, something that feels particularly counter to John Carpenter's original film. That film killed a few people and did so with almost no blood. Halloween Kills triples the kill count in it's first 15 minutes and amps the gore up into extreme levels. Some of the kills are fun and surprising. This is what many fans want but the film constantly asks you to care about these people so it is odd when it enjoys murdering them in such graphic ways.

I could get past the tonal shifts if the characters acted like humans. They don't. They leave back doors unlocked, they go after Michael alone, they take moments to cry over a loved one who has been killed when Michael is still in the room, and they don't kill Michael when given the chance.

The film never generates suspense, trading the skillful build of tension that Carpenter excelled at for brutality. And really, what tension can develop from a killer who can't be stopped. The film makes it clear that Michael is unkillable unless maybe your name is Laurie. We also know going in that there is a third film coming. This robs the film of any kind of resolution. Here's hoping Halloween Ends refocuses on the link between Laurie and Michael and gives Jaime Lee Curtis more time to shine, and kick Michael's ass.



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