Movie Review: Halloween Kills

The headlines scream, “HALLOWEEN KILLS Slays at the Box Office” and “HALLOWEEN KILLS Scores Bloody Great Debut”.  Yes, the latest sequel to the Michael Myers slasher series that began in 1978 is carving the American box office to pieces, dethroning NO TIME TO DIE and putting a chef’s knife right in the heart of the ambitions of THE LAST DUEL.  If you’ve seen either of the other films, you’re probably asking yourself, “How is that even possible?”  Fortunately, I’ve now seen this movie and I can tell you how.

HALLOWEEN KILLS picks up right where HALLOWEEN left off three years ago.  It’s 2018 and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, KNIVES OUT), her daughter Karen Nelson (Judy Greer, UNCLE FRANK; WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE; the ANT-MAN films) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) are headed to the hospital to get help for Laurie, who has been stabbed in the gut by Michael.  Meanwhile, Laurie’s house in burning down but we already know that Michael has somehow survived being locked in her safe room there.  In another part of Haddonfield, Deputy Frank Hawkins (Will Patton, THE FOREVER PURGE; MINARI) is lying on the ground bleeding after being attacked by Dr. Sartain but he’s rescued by Allyson’s old boyfriend Cameron Elam (Dylan Arnold), who gets Frank to the hospital too.  And, at a local bar, Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS; THE BREAKFAST CLUB; SIXTEEN CANDLES) and others are celebrating the 40th anniversary Michael’s arrest and imprisonment at the same time that mayhem is breaking out in front of Laurie’s house.  It doesn’t take long for word to reach the bar that Michael has escaped from the psych hospital but this time around, the town isn’t going to sit idly back and wait for Michael to come to them.  “Evil dies tonight,” they chant and they go looking for him.  Laurie, who by this time is in the ICU recovering from her surgery, also hears about Michael and she, too, wants to be part of the vigilante squad.

HALLOWEEN KILLS suffers from a few problems.  First, if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen the whole film.  That’s because HALLOWEEN KILLS spends the first 40 minutes rehashing 40 years of HALLOWEEN history, albeit shown from a new perspective.  With the exception of the opening scene showing Laurie screaming to let her house burn (it’s in the trailer so it’s not a spoiler), we don’t see her again until the 41st minute.  Just before she came back on screen, I turned to my colleague and said, “I thought Jamie Lee Curtis was in this movie.”  Even more ridiculous is Will Patton’s role, which consists of lying in a pool of his own blood, and then a couple of lines while he’s lying in a hospital bed.  Nice work if you can get it!  The bigger (but not the biggest) problem with HALLOWEEN KILLS though, is that this is only half a film.  We already know that a sequel, entitled HALLOWEEN ENDS, will be released next October.  Audiences will be going into this film knowing that both Laurie and Michael will live to see another Halloween.  Hopefully, it will all be resolved in the next film and I have my theories on how that will play out.  Unlike DUNE or AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR however, HALLOWEEN KILLS does not leave the audience wanting more.  On the contrary, this jack o’lantern is really starting to stink badly.

Why, then, are audiences flocking to see this film?  It’s quite simple.  It’s 106 minutes of mindless entertainment.  It’s the movie equivalent of a roller coaster.  It’s the rush they get from watching all of Michael’s kills.  But the film’s biggest problem is that we’ve seen better and more creative kills in other films in recent years.  It’s not like there wasn’t the opportunity here.  There was one scene involving a chain saw and a circular saw that could have been deliciously gruesome.  Instead, only a bit of blood splatter was shown to the audience.  I don’t think producer Jason Blum (of Blumhouse Productions) and director David Gordon Green (GOAT; PRINCE AVALANCHE) really care though.  Released only a week ago in the US, HALLOWEEN KILLS has already turned a profit.  It’s predecessor, HALLOWEEN (2018), cost only US$10 million to make yet took in US$256 million at the box office.  Why would anyone want to tinker with that winning formula?

HALLOWEEN KILLS is complete rubbish but that won’t matter to fans of either the franchise or the slasher genre.  It opens in Hong Kong’s cinemas today (October 21).

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