By William Brooks
In 2018 Blumhouse produced Halloween, a sequel to Halloween (1978) but NOT a sequel to Halloween (2007). Technically that movie could be considered Halloween 2, as it ignored the events of Halloween 2 (1981) and Halloween 2(2009). Picking up where that movie left off, we now have Halloween Kills—perhaps the first film in cinema history to earn the distinction of being a sequel to a remake of two failed reboots from four films erased from an alternate timeline.
Director David Gordon Green, Scott Teams and producer Danny McBride doubtless poured their hearts and souls into the writing of this highly original and thrilling new entry in the franchise, presenting a story wherein Michael Myers murders a bunch of people on Halloween night. Our beloved 60-year-old serial killer manages plenty of those at least, bringing his running tally for the evening to an absurd 40 by my count, all while never exerting himself beyond a leisurely stroll. He even takes intermittent breaks off-screen to decorate several corpses in elaborately macabre displays for our protagonists to stumble upon later. He must have very good time management skills; I can barely work on two projects in the week.
Factiousness aside, I genuinely have a soft spot for the slasher movie. Don’t get me wrong, they are often never anything above mediocre, but there is something very essentially cathartic about watching a parade of out-of-work actors get their insides outed while the soundtrack shrieks like Sharon Stone just recrossed her legs in front of the violin section. There’s no such self-aware fun to be found here though, Halloween Kills is so far up itself that it views the world entirely through the back of its own teeth. It has an irritating reverence for every single minute detail from John Carpenter’s original film and wallows in nostalgia like a toddler in a fully-loaded nappy.
Unwilling to deviate too far from the source material and formula that brought it to the dance, Kills instead seeks to justify itself through arduous and preachy social commentary with all the subtlety of Mr. Blobby at a wake. A lengthy detour explores the descent of the townsfolk into mass hysteria and vigilantism as they attempt to hunt down Myers in a clumsy reflection of the many populist eruptions in recent U.S. history. Call me old fashioned, but any film that depicts a masked killer repurposing a pensioner’s throat as a fluorescent tube holder should not take a time out to pontificate about the dangers of mob justice. The saddest part of this convoluted mess of a subplot is that it buries the Strode women in their own film. By needing to attend to all this furious action, the tension-building atmospherics that made the original so trenchant are completely forsaken.
However, the biggest creative flaw can be identified in this film’s development process, wherein it was decided on the back of the box office success of Halloween (2018) that two sequels be commissioned and promoted to audiences as a trilogy before any semblance of a draft script was committed to paper. Therefore, Kills suffers from being a film with no real beginning, and by extension, no real end either. It is the cinematic equivalent of treading water before Michael and Laurie must once again face off next year for their oh-so-epic grand finale.
“Evil Dies Tonight!” Not when there’s still a quick buck to be made it doesn’t.
Take comfort though: somewhere at this very moment, John Carpenter is banking a fat cheque, playing video games, and rocking some serious Synthwave.