Halloween Kills

Halloween Kills ★★½

Points for not calling this one Halloween II (or even Halloween II III). It was neat hearing the new Ghost single over the credits, but it provided a perfect parallel to this movie: in both cases, I preferred the sound when it was still fresh and there was more mystery surrounding the guy behind the mask.

Despite trailers promising to open in media res in what would have been one of the most stunning sequel pickups in recent memory, Halloween Kills instead veers off into a cartwheel of flashbacks and new characters, foreshadowing what will eventually become the bane of the film. The Shape doesn't appear in the present for a solid ten minutes or so, during which time the stage has already been set for a Laurie-less mess of expendable walk-ons. Much like the original Halloween II, Laurie Strode is confined to the hospital for Halloween Kills, but this time, in a confusing bid to expand on the new series mythology while also subverting expectations (yay), Michael doesn't join her. Jamie Lee Curtis lies in bed for nearly the whole film while Michael displays no interest in searching for her - a reversal made more curious by the fact that the film is able to present no apparent goal for Michael in place of killing Laurie. And this failure is not consistent with the usual inability to explain Michael's motivations, which is certainly a perennially important part of his presentation; this feels like a failure of the movie to understand what it really wants to do with Michael and how it wants us to feel about him.

When Michael begins his killing frenzy anew, he really goes for the gusto, racking up a kill count impressive by any standards (and especially in comparison to the other Halloween films I've seen, which are relatively staid in their executions of bystanders); the body count and the sadism with which it is achieved are to be appreciated. Nonetheless, with the established social environment of the 2018 Halloween now scattered to the wind and a glut of newcomers streaming into the vacuum to fill its place, Halloween Kills lacks a system to disrupt. In place of a peaceful town to corrupt with chaos, the film tries to generate chaos all on its own by pushing new faces and new subplots into every scene, to the point that the hunt for Michael becomes drowned out by rioting townsfolk.

The script crawls in a circle around some threatened branch of philosophy that might impart to us a message, but even bare platitudes escape the characters' grasp as they are unable to come up with something vaguely quotable, let alone meaningful. "Evil dies tonight!" suffers numerous reprises as the film's attempted catchphrase (insert Mean Girls meme here); in the wake of the film's inability to apply mob politics to any coherent thesis, the line sounds perilously lame, and from the existence of a planned sequel, we can also assume that it is also inaccurate. The humor falters in comparison to the preceding film, and the characters are too intense, too driven by vengeance, too pockmarked by old grudges to shoulder the role of hero in an agreeable manner. Where the 2018 Halloween felt exciting and fun, Halloween Kills leaves me yearning for the simplicity, elegance, and mystery of the original.

AgentofSSUSteel liked this review