Halloween Kills delivers on its title and Michael Myers is at his best after almost being burned alive. Myers rampage continues in this blood-drenched follow-up to its widely successful predecessor. Wanting to address the entire town of Haddonfield, Halloween Kills loses its footing as it attempts to juggle too much in its allotted runtime. Never allowing its narrative to breathe, Halloween Kills will satisfy most fans of the franchise like myself. But it’s easy to see why some are not as impressed.
Jamie Lee Curtis is back once again as the iconic Laurie Strode. She spends most of the time resting for her next meeting with Michael, which is slated for next year with Halloween Ends. More returning characters carry the narrative this time, and the results are a mixed bag. David Gordon Green returns to co-write and direct this latest bloodbath for Michael Myers. Judy Greer and Andi Matichak return to reprise their respective roles as Karen (Greer) and Allyson (Matichak) Nelson.
Laurie Strode (Curtis) believes she has put her 40-year-old trauma behind her, but Michael Myers survived the house fire and is continuing his annual killing spree. Tommy Doyle, Lindsey Wallace, Marion Chambers, and the entire town of Haddonfield learn of his presence and seek to continue where Laurie left off by hunting Michael down. The decision to bring in more characters from John Carpenter’s classic made the wait for Halloween Kills that much worse. Sadly, they aren’t that interesting to follow.
Kyle Richards returns as Lindsey Wallace, a decision that had diehard fans eager to see Richards back in the franchise. Lindsey’s return is merely for nostalgia, and while it’s nice to see the character return. There should have been more focus on who she is now. Anthony Michael Hall fills in the role of Tommy Doyle, the child Laurie babysat during Michael’s original attacks. Similar to Lindsey, Tommy has no character development. We do learn that they meet Marion Chambers at a bar every year to drown out their collective trauma though.
It’s easy to argue that’s all you need when relying on nostalgia, but Halloween Kills spends an unnecessary amount of time with characters named Big John and Little John. Both serve no purpose after learning they stay in Myers old home. Moments of the two doing goofball antics could have been swapped for the development of those carrying the story. As comedic as they are, It’s unnecessary humor when struggling to squeeze in as much as Halloween Kills attempts to. The social commentary aspect may hit closer to home for some more than others.
Being centered on the idiotic Haddonfield mob shines a light on how damaging acting before being informed can be. While watching Michael dish out some of the series best kills to date, it’s difficult to not grow increasingly bothered by the stupidity of those that confront him. Their stupidity aids the film in living up to its title, which keeps Halloween Kills fun from start to finish. How it managed to provide some of the best and bizarre moments of the franchise might be a bigger mystery than what makes Michael tick.
When you aren’t mesmerized by the gory carnage, Halloween Kills will have you cringing from the dialogue. If you were turned off by the peanut butter crotch comments from Green’s last film, well be prepared to cringe again. The overuse of the phrase “Evil dies tonight” is dreadful to hear once it overstays its welcome. Curtis delivers another strong performance and even has some captivating moments where she goes over who Michael Myers is at his core. Hall and Richards are adequate enough in their roles, but Curtis’ absence early on could hinder the overall experience for some.
Green keeps the film at a rapid pace, which hinders certain aspects from being digested as a viewer. It’s trying to accomplish too much too quickly and it’s evident throughout. When Michael is slashing his way through Haddonfield, Green builds on the tension and keeps it suspenseful. There’s a moment where Myers is unmasked by the mob and Green brilliantly respects the character here. The use of lighting and blurred angles to preserve Myers’ menacing presence was handled masterfully.
While Halloween Kills isn’t as cohesive as its predecessor, it does a better job at capturing the atmosphere of the late ’70s classic. The film’s opening flashback includes a tremendous recreation of Michael’s home and the best iteration of his iconic mask. How this flashback is incorporated into the film’s progression creates some intimate moments between Laurie and her roommate in the hospital. Amid its flaws, Halloween Kills does enough to keep itself afloat. Carpenter returns to score and it is an adrenaline rush that heightens the tension during certain chase sequences.
Halloween Kills fumbles with its narrative more than once but still provides the action that horror fans waited so patiently for. James Jude Courtney delivers another frightening performance as Michael Myers. His dominant portrayal helps sell Myers rage during this film. At times it does feel like Green and his co-writers leaned too much on the comedy, but it never becomes too overbearing. Halloween Kills lives up to its name and it’s a step-down, but it still encompasses several brilliant moments.