What a fall it has turned out to be for horror junkies. We have the disturbing and odd Titane, the bonkers Malignant, and next week we have two more anticipated violent horror films: Antlers and Last Night in Soho. However, true horror fans will have been looking forward to HALLOWEEN KILLS, the newest sequel of the overlong slasher franchise that starts directly after the events of 2018’s Halloween reboot. David Gordon Green’s previous Halloween film was astonishingly good, and is debatably the best film in the franchise since John Carpenter’s 1978 original. Green returns to write and direct this second film in a planned Halloween trilogy, which me and many others were highly anticipating because of the amazing job he did paying homage to Carpenter’s classic in the 2018 movie. Unfortunately, in between 2018 and now it seems that Green has lost the ingredients to what makes a Halloween slasher movie fun and interesting.
HALLOWEEN KILLS continues almost exactly where 2018’s Halloween left off, with Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) escaping from the burning house with Michael Myers in it. They all assume they have finally bested the notorious serial killer, but anyone who has seen more than one Halloween movie knows that Michael Myers doesn’t go down that easy. Myers emerges from the fire with a reborn passion for murder, and in this movie he kills more than he ever has in a single Halloween movie. Along with this, the movie gives us a major subplot involving the mob mentality of the town of Haddonfield, Illinois in which they all come together to track down and kill Michael.
For the first 20-30 minutes of HALLOWEEN KILLS, the movie feels as though it has little to no plot other than just continuing the ending of the previous movie. The beginning includes many drawn-out flashbacks to the night of the original killings in 1978, all of which feel tacked on to create mediocre plot points and to include some fan service for the die-hard Halloween fans. Once a semblance of a plot begins to form, the ingredients are all so weak and forced that the movie never comes across like something that understands how to perfect the specifics of a good slasher flick or a movie in general. Green and the other screenwriters seem to have been fixated on the idea of the town of Haddonfield coming together, trying to hunt down Michael Myers, and then being consumed by their own fear in a way that further harms innocent people. This is a clear comment on how mob mentality and groupthink can cause more harm than good in a serious situation such as this, and while this isn’t a bad idea in concept, the execution feels quite ridiculous for most of the runtime and doesn’t deliver anything by the end.
Possibly my biggest issue with HALLOWEEN KILLS is that it completely misses the tone and spirit that makes a slasher movie worth watching. Almost every violent death in this film (of which there are many) doesn’t match the tone of the tense buildup that leads to it. For example, there are two kills near the beginning that are built up in a lighthearted and campy way, but the deaths themselves are so disturbing that it left a bad taste in my mouth for the next 30 minutes of screentime. Meanwhile, there are another series of kills later in the movie that have a genuinely creepy build-up, but then the actual deaths are so ridiculous and dumb that the entire scene was laughable. Green could never seem to get the tone right, which is especially surprising given how great of a job he did with Halloween 2018.
Without spoiling anything, the ending of HALLOWEEN KILLS cemented the mediocre quality that the majority of this movie seems to exemplify. The writers create the setup for a truly great and gory ending with Myers shredding through basically half the town, but any slasher movie satisfaction is ruined by the most confounding and distracting camera-work possible given the situation. The kills aren’t even visible because of how badly they are shot, and a major character death is glossed over due to the fact that the camera only shows Michael Myers’ blank expression. The movie is gratuitously gory for 90 percent of the runtime, but then during the one scene where seeing the gore would have helped the impact of the movie land, nothing is shown. HALLOWEEN KILLS contains a decent amount of good ideas, but simple mistakes like these prevent the movie from being anything more than one of a great many mediocre Halloween sequels.
Green proved he is more of a talented director/writer than meets the eye with 2018’s Halloween, so it’s a shame that very little of that talent is visible here. HALLOWEEN KILLS feels like it was helmed by completely different people than the last one, which had some great homages to the original John Carpenter film and knew how to create some fantastic bloody kills ripe for enjoyment. There are definitely some fun scenes within this sequel — the opening scene involving firefighters sets the tone well — but those scenes feel like exceptions to the rule this time around. The third film, titled Halloween Ends, is slated to release in 2022, and because of HALLOWEEN KILLS, audiences will be approaching that film with skepticism instead of anticipation.