The latest chapter in the Halloween franchise hit theatres this weekend and unfortunately, I left the film feeling indifferent, which is not what you want to feel when you watch a horror film.
Halloween Kills is set moment after 2018’s Halloween, with lots of flashbacks thrown in for good measure. We learn that Michael Myers escaped the fire at Laurie Strode’s house and killed all the fireman trying to put out the blaze. I will say this is probably the most inventive sequence of the film as I liked some of the camera shots and angles, especially when we had a fireman’s fogged up mask POV shot and when Michael walks out of the house with water coming down in the foreground while the flames reach their apex in the background.
The Strode family (Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer and Andi Matichak) are on their way to the hospital to tend to their wounds after their encounter with Michael in the 2018 film and for the most part, that’s where those characters stay throughout the events of Halloween Kills. Michael’s story has him heading home, violently killing anyone who gets in his way. What is interesting about Halloween Kills is the decision that screenwriters Scott Teems, Danny McBride and David Gordon Green made to make this film focus more on the victims from the original 1978 film and how they want their revenge on Michael Myers, instead of the Strode family. It has a mixed effect, because we get a very strong performance from Anthony Michael Hall, who plays Tommy Doyle, but lose interest in the storyline that was setup in the first film with the Strode family. For those of you who have not seen the 1978 original film (like myself) Tommy was one of the kids Laurie Strode babysat. I think for Halloween Kills, it would have definitely helped if I had seen the 1978 film when watching this, which is interesting because I did not feel that way when I saw the 2018 version.
When Doyle finds out that Michael has escaped, he begins to recruit people from the town to come together to stop Michael by any means necessary. This to me was the true horror of the film, seeing people unite because of a singular focus without rationally thinking through that vengeance is not good and it is not ok to take the law into your own hands. When the police lose control and the mob demands justice, it is truly horrifying to watch because of how blinded they are by their hate. In a way, Tommy Doyle became the antagonist in Halloween Kills for me as it was interesting to see his character’s arc progress to one where you sympathize with him at the start to one where you cannot justify his actions.
Other things I liked about Halloween Kill were the fact that the whole film takes place over the course of an evening, so there is no sunlight at all, giving the film a very dark and moody atmosphere. I also have to commend Scott MacArthur and Michael McDonald as they had good chemistry on the screen playing the two John’s. As well, the score is solid throughout.
Unfortunately, there is a lot about Halloween Kills that does not work. The Strode women are wasted and not given a ton to do in the film, because they either argue or get angry at others in the hospital. To be blunt, Halloween Kill drags anytime there is a sequence at the hospital. There is also a minor storyline about an escaped convict that I thought was handled poorly. I found that I didn’t love the flashback sequences as they took away from the momentum of the main story and I actually wished that they changed the start of the film to be when Laurie is being taken to the hospital, Michael escaping from the burning house and then we can get into the flashbacks as a long flashback opens the film.
As most horror film fans know, it is frustrating watching stupid people do stupid things and Halloween Kills has a lot of dumb people. From a man dressed as a doctor going back into a bar to leave his wife alone in a parking lot so he can get his stethoscope, to the decision of a supporting character going into a house alone even though he has people with him, a character seeing Michael coming at her and just letting him stab her without really fighting back to the absolutely terrible accuracy of anyone firing a gun from close range. All of these things are groan inducing. A minor quibble I had at the end of Halloween Kill is that I did not like the edits that happen in the final moments as I literally had to ask my friend where someone was located as the edits were quick.
My final issue with Halloween Kill is something that I don’t like to say about any horror film and that is that it just was not scary. There was one jump scare that got me, which I always enjoy, but the rest of the time, I honestly did not react. I hope this is corrected in Halloween Ends.
An interesting thing for me is that for most of the Halloween films that I have seen, I just look at Michael Myers as a man who just cannot be killed. In the climatic moments of Halloween Kills, I realized my view of him is wrong and that he is actually the purist representation of evil. Evil will always be around and cannot be stopped, no matter how hard anyone tries. That does not mean that we should not try to stop it, but darkness will always be there. It has no emotion, it shows no mercy and leaves many victims in its wake. So having my mindset change was an interesting aspect for my viewing experience.
Although I was disappointed overall with Halloween Kills, I am looking forward to next year when Halloween Ends comes out, as it will be interesting to see where they go next with the story. Again, I hope they can correct some of the mistakes from this film.