‘Halloween Kills’ is a pointless, meandering sequel

halloween kills

HALLOWEEN KILLS
DIRECTOR: David Gordon Green
STARRING: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle, Airon Armstrong, Will Patton, Thomas Mann, Jim Cummings, Dylan Arnold, Robert Longstreet, Anthony Michael Hall, Charles Cyphers, Scott MacArthur, Michael McDonald, Ross Bacon, Kyle Richards, Nancy Stephens, Omar J. Dorsey
Now in theaters
GRADE: D+

About halfway into the mess that is the latest Halloween sequel, a much older, wiser, and more vigilant Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall), one of the surviving children of Michael Myers’ original 1978 massacre, has whipped the entire town of Haddonfield into a frenzy because Michael Myers has resurfaced after 40 years and he’s murdered some kids. All hell has broken loose with panicked parents and Tommy yelling at the cops — then we they see some small, old guy wearing a sanitarium jumpsuit, crying for help on the other side of the lobby’s fortified glass. Immediately, the crowd, whipped into an absolute frenzy, runs after the crazy guy. “We don’t know if that’s Michael or not,” Tommy says. “We’ve never seen him without the mask on.”

Sure, this is logical. If everyone forgot how tall, muscular, and imposing Myers is. They chase and chase, hunting him from floor to floor until Laurie Strode’s daughter (Judy Greer whose incredibly ironic name is “Karen”) decides to protect the old man by shielding him inside a hallway which is locked on both ends. Of course, the doors aren’t going to hold for long and the old man will end up dead anyhow…so he commits suicide by jumping out the window. “We’ve become the monsters,” Tommy Doyle says under his breath in a manner so preachy, I almost expect Rod Serling, cigarette in hand, to end the scene with one of his famous epilogues.

Halloween Kills opens in theaters this weekend (and on NBC’s Peacock steaming service)…and I look at what I just typed and I’m reminded of that line from Spaceballs where a movie critic is reviewing the fictional Rocky 5000 where the reviewer starts off by saying “They say if you’ve seen one Rocky, you’ve seen them all…but…”

There’s no “but” here.

Halloween Kills
Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) in Halloween Kills, directed by David Gordon Green

We’ve seen eleven other Halloween films before this one. The original was the best. Since then, we’ve seen Myers murder people in a hospital, we’ve seen him try to off Laurie Strode’s niece, we’ve seen the series get a reboot and another mediocre sequel to that reboot, and we’ve seen the series get yet another reboot from grunge metal rocker Rob Zombie. 2018 marked the third reboot of this god-forsaken franchise and is it too much to ask for the sequels to have any modicum of consistency or quality to them?

Halloween Kills takes place right after the credits rolled on the 2018 version of Halloween. The Strode family is being whisked away to a hospital on a truck bed. Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) has a bad stomach injury, having survived yet another encounter with the zombie-like Michael Myers. Laurie thinks that she and her family trapped Myers and burned him alive in her shack…but we all know that isn’t the case. While Strode recovers at a hospital (gee, this plotline doesn’t sound the least bit familiar), Myers erupts from the burning home and takes out about a half dozen armed firefighters like John Wick hopped up on bath salts after they stand around and attack him one at a time like in a Kung-fu movie.

Suddenly, Tommy Doyle exists again, as if willed into creation by an uncaring god who wants death or more money depending on which side of the wall he/she/it is on, and, wouldn’t you know it, he’s brought friends with him for nostalgia purposes he has a support group with him comprised of Marion (Nancy Stephens) the doctor who was with Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance who is gratuitously resurrected via CGI, which nobody asked for) the night before all hell broke loose. She’s joined by Lindsay (Kyle Richards), one of the other child survivors and Lonnie Elam (Robert Longstreet), the bully who pushed Tommy around. It turns out Myers nearly offed him had the police not shown up and saved his life.

Once it’s known that Myers is out there, hacking his way through Haddonfield again, Tommy gets a mob of merry morons together (one of them actually brings a steam iron to the fight, god bless her) to destroy Michael once and for all — but we all know that isn’t happening. You know that. I know that. Everyone knows that.

Halloween Kills

What’s so frustrating about Halloween Kills is that it jettisons just about everything the 2018 reboot built. In that film, we explored Laurie Strode’s endless trauma which she ends up imparting onto her daughter and grand-daughter under the guise of wisdom. In this film, Jamie Lee Curtis is limited to hanging around Haddonfield General, either wandering the hallways yelling at the angry mob or shooting the shit with Officer Hawkins who admits that he wanted to have sex with her at one point in their younger lives.

Meanwhile, that mob I told you about? They’re all hopped up on adrenaline and ready to kill — until they split up and get ripped apart by Michael Myers who has essentially become the chainsaw killer in the Geico Halloween commercial, rolling his eyes at how easy it is to kill people these days.

It’s 2021.

We shouldn’t still be hearing the words, “Let’s split up” or “Stay here, I’m gonna go in alone” in a slasher film. Even if I were to believe that people still make those dumb decisions, the older, wiser characters should know better. But they don’t. Tommy and Lonnie are the two with the most to do, full of piss and vinegar, but Marion and Lindsay walk around this movie like robotic clones, empty vessels who look like their 1978 counterparts — but don’t really speak or have much to do.

They go about their business and we lose a quarter of the cast from 1978’s Halloween in about five minutes, rendering their appearances completely meaningless outside of cheap nostalgia.

The only time anything truly gets interesting is when the citizens of Haddonfield finally manage to corner Myers and proceed to kick the ever-loving shit out of him, beating him, slashing and stabbing him with knives, and shooting him full of holes, which made me cheer — but that’s also a short-lived, half-baked idea when Myers suddenly comes back to life like a video game monster with a sliver of his life bar still intact. I would just declare this incompetent and be done with it but it’s more than that. It’s formulaic and outdated.

Halloween Kills is a film which thinks it has something to say but, in reality, is a pointless, meandering exercise in futility. It’s a film which seems to exist simply for the sake of featuring mindless, bloody kills for hardcore slasher fans, saving the most relevant stuff for the last reel and, by then, you’re not really sure if what you witnessed was of any relevance at all.

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