Michael Myers returns for more indiscriminate murdering in David Gordon Green’s Halloween Kills.
The Halloween franchise isn’t something I’ve ever written about before despite having a profound connection to it. John Carpenter’s original film was one I watched when I was far too young so it rendered me terrified with me having nightmares for weeks afterwards. As I’ve gotten older my tolerance to scary movies has increased meaning that the feeling of being so terrified that I’m reluctant to go to sleep isn’t something I can recapture but I still remember how it made me feel and want the franchise to be good. Halloween is interesting in that it has been rebooted three times including this one. Halloween (2018) ignores every film made since the first one meaning that this is the third entry in the new timeline. It isn’t a particularly narratively intricate franchise but it is important to bear in mind that there are three timelines emerging from the original film and a complete reboot duology from Rob Zombie.
Halloween (2018) was to my mind very watchable but not a patch on the John Carpenter original. one of the issues was the reverence it held towards the original with constant references to the events of that fateful night as if it was some sort of widespread legend where an inhuman monster preyed on a small town. In a way that makes sense as the events would be highly traumatic to those who survived the experience so they would recount it in a way that adds majesty to it. This applies to those willing to talk about it at least with others like Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode choosing instead to wall themselves off, obsess about what happened and gear themselves up for the day where revenge is possible.
This film continues the trend of mythologising the events by focusing on the impact they had on the people of Haddonfield. The focal character -of sorts- is Tommy (Anthony Michael Hall). He gives a speech about remembering those who were lost that night and never forgetting that the man responsible is still out there. This progresses to him being the head of a mob with the singular task of tracking down and killing Michael Myers before he can kill again. In a way such a reaction is understandable especially when the film makes a very strong case for Michael Myers being far too dangerous to be kept alive but in another it’s concerning because Tommy fans the flames of mob mentality. The mob very quickly lose sight of their objective and become thirsty for violence for its own sake with the excuse of Michael Myers being their objective becoming less apparent.
At least that’s what the film thinks it’s doing when it very much isn’t. There’s a lack of clarity on what is being said about mob mentality. Is it a dangerous collective mindset that spirals out of control or is it necessary under given circumstances? A clear answer is never given and it isn’t presented cleverly enough to be deliberately ambiguous. What it amounts to is a large collection of people making declarative statements about what needs to be done as the bodies pile up in the hospital. A deeper sense of character from Tommy or anyone else might have improved things but what is presented is awkward and shallow. It also doesn’t help that the standard horror trope of the plot only being possible because people behave stupidly is painfully evident.
Characterisation is where this film really suffers, even by slasher movie standards. There are far too many characters for any of them to receive meaningful development and some confusing decisions made regarding those who were prominent in the last film. Laurie Strode spends most of the film bound to a hospital bed which makes sense given the scope of her injuries but doesn’t work in the context of a story that is supposed to be built around the PTSD she struggles with all these years later. She does have a long conversation with Officer Hawkins (Will Patton) about the nature of evil and where Michael Myers fits within that idea but it’s more meaningless posturing than anything else and very much a waste of the potential existing around Laurie’s character and Jamie Lee Curtis’ capabilities.
Similarly, Judy Greer’s Karen has very little to do though impresses in two key moments with one of them showing her ability to rise above the lure of mob mentality and the other highlighting the similarities that exist between her and her mother despite her denial of them in the last film. Allyson (Andi Matichak) also mostly fades into the background and functions more as a plot catalyst rather than the compelling middle ground between her grandmother and mother. The film does almost nothing with these relationships despite generational impact being one of the major themes of this film and the previous one. These characters are the perfect case study for what the rest of the town is dealing with yet there’s no interest in doing much with it in this outing.
It’s especially unfortunate when considering how good Andi Matichak is in this role. She’s believably vulnerable, brave, capable, emotionally affected, haunted or whatever else the scene demands. Most of the experienced states are fleeting when they but performed well when they do. It’s clear she is being set up as the potential leading player in the next film but for this one she is part of the furniture and that is a mistake.
The body count is what keeps things moving and to its credit, Halloween Kills mostly moves at a clip. There is a great deal of bloat here and there when the film forces in attempts at characterisation rather than organically weaving it throughout the narrative and the absurdly large collection of characters means that so much time is spent attempting to deliver an impression but beyond that the momentum is strong. Things move because of the obscenely large body count that Michael Myers racks up. Some of the kills are well executed -pun intended- and others are less imaginative but most of them are gory. This is often to the point of being sickening so squeamish viewers should avoid but Halloween Kills certainly delivers on what the title promises.
In a lot of ways this is an obvious middle chapter which adds to this experience being an unsatisfying one. The fact that it lacks a clear ending isn’t a problem as such as many slasher movies end on an ambiguous note but ideas are introduced and questions are asked that are never resolved meaning that on a narrative level there is a lot unexplored. The idea of Michael Myers as a force of nature untethered to the laws of man is brought in very late in the game with it coming across as more confusing than profound as is unquestionably the intent. Questions around what Michael Myers is and if he can ever be stopped remain unanswered but the idea that the worst consequence of what he did is encouraging the residents of Haddonfield give into their worst instincts is at least clearly presented. Halloween Kills is mostly confused about what it wants to be which means that it tries to do a lot and ends up accomplishing very little.
A confused mess of a film that tries to do a lot and ends up accomplishing very little but at least boasts an impressive body count for fans of the slasher genre. The film has a great deal of reverence for John Carpenter’s original that ends up being to its detriment as it spends a lot of time mythologising the events of that film in a way that is highly overblown. It makes sense for the residents of the time but it’s presented in such a shallow way that the desire meaning is lost. The notion of mob mentality and the dangers associated with it is badly muddled because the actions of Michael Myers seem to be making a strong case for their objective being the right thing to do. A clear answer isn’t given and the film isn’t clever enough for it to be deliberately ambiguous. It amounts to a collection of people making declarative statements as the body count rises. Characterisation is a major weakness with nobody standing out. Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode is largely relegated to a hospital bed so has very little to do, Judy Greer’s Karen only has two key scenes that make her stand out and Andi Matichak’s Allyson unfortunately is mostly part of the furniture. The plot is propelled my Michael Myers doing what he does best and to its credit, Halloween Kills mostly moves at a clip though suffers from massive bloat thanks to the massive collection of characters. Outside of that it has a strong sense of momentum and the body count is massive. Some of the kills are better executed -pun intended- than others but most of them are gory so squeamish viewers should avoid. It’s very much a middle chapter which isn’t an issue as such as many slasher movies have less than definitive endings but the awkward introduction of ideas late in the game that are never explored really stands out. Ultimately Halloween Kills is confused about what it wants to be which means that it tries to do a lot and ends up accomplishing very little.
- impressively executed kills
- Andi Matichak’s performance when she has the opportunity to show what she can do
- the consequences of the events of the original film informing the situation that now exists
- mostly competent pacing
- far too many characters
- poor characterisation throughout
- wasting the potential of Laurie, Karen and Allyson
- the abundance of characters creating bloat
- the plot only happening because characters behave stupidly
- clumsy exploration of the mob mentality idea with no clear steer on what the film is trying to say
- ideas that are introduced late in the game without being explored
- general confusion over what the film wants to be
What did you think? Select your rating in the “User Review” box below
User Review( vote)
We’d love to know your thoughts on this and anything else you might want to talk about. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter or just leave a comment in the comment section below. You’ll need an account for Disqus but it’s easy to set up. Don’t forget to share your rating in the “User Review” box
If you want to chat to me directly then I’m on Twitter as well.