Director: David Gordon Green
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Thomas Mann, Anthony Michael Hall
Runtime: 1 hr 45 mins
Rating: M18 (Violence and Gore)
Released By: UIP
Opening Day: 28 October 2021
Synopsis: In 2018, David Gordon Green's Halloween, starring icon Jamie Lee Curtis, killed at the box office, earning more than $250 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing chapter in the four-decade franchise and setting a new record for the biggest opening weekend in history for a horror film starring a woman. And the Halloween night when Michael Myers returned isn't over yet.
Minutes after Laurie Strode (Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) left masked monster Michael Myers caged and burning in Laurie's basement, Laurie is rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, believing she finally killed her lifelong tormentor. But when Michael manages to free himself from Laurie's trap, his ritual bloodbath resumes. As Laurie fights her pain and prepares to defend herself against him, she inspires all of Haddonfield to rise up against their unstoppable monster. The Strode women join a group of other survivors of Michael's first rampage who decide to take matters into their own hands, forming a vigilante mob that sets out to hunt Michael down, once and for all. Evil dies tonight.
After a lean, mean, franchise-invigorating reboot, ‘Halloween Kills’ threatens to suck the life out of the series once again. Those who have followed the continuations of John Carpenter’s 1978 horror classic will certainly be familiar with such disappointments – not including the last movie, there have been two other valiant reboots, namely ‘Halloween H20’ and Rob Zombie’s ‘Halloween’, both of which were followed by uninspiring sequels that ended up necessitating yet another restart. Even so, that doesn’t reduce the frustration watching David Gordon Green fumble so spectacularly here, especially given how smart and savvy his redo was.
Picking up right after the events of the last film, ‘Halloween Kills’ opens with Laurie Strode (the inimitable Jamie Lee Curtis) bleeding profusely from a stomach wound as she is rushed to hospital in the back of a speeding truck with her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). ‘Let it burn!’ she screams at the firefighters in the fire truck headed towards the blazing house where she had trapped her arch-nemesis Michael Myers. It should come as no surprise that each and every one of the firefighters will pay for their bravery with their lives; what we did not expect however, is that Laurie would spend most of the film languishing in a hospital bed, waiting for the already promised third movie to continue her showdown with Michael.
Green, who reteams with actor-comedian Danny McBride, further digs into the original’s roster of characters for this movie – the kid Tommy whom Laurie was babysitting; the retired former assistant Marion to Michael’s psychiatrist Dr Samuel Loomis; the former town sheriff Leigh who had lost his daughter to Michael’s killing spree; and the bully Lonnie who used to taunt Tommy back in the day. Frankly, all but the series’ most loyal fans would care about any of these supporting characters, so as admirable as Green’s reverence is of the original as well as its actors (Nancy Stephens and Charles Cyphers reprise their roles as Marion and Leigh respectively), we’re not quite sure how creatively inspired the decision to bring them back was.
Certainly, Green’s execution of this part of the narrative falls way short. Tired of living in fear, Tommy (Anthony Michael Hall) decides to rally the surviving townsfolk to hunt Michael down; these comprise the alums Marion, Leigh and Lonnie (Robert Longstreet), as well as their descendants including Lonnie’s son Cameron (Dylan Arnold) and Allyson. Green tries to fashion the resultant pandemonium of an unhinged crowd into social commentary of what happens when we allow fear to get the better of us, but does not quite have the directing chops to make it convincing or compelling; instead, what is supposed to be a sobering tragedy turns out laughably contrived, and further proof that Green is quite simply out of his league here.
Green fares much better with the murders, though even in that regard, we cannot say we were particularly thrilled. A scene with Michael taunting three hapless victims trapped in a car is terrifying; so too when Michael returns to his former childhood home, now the residence of a gay couple Big John (Scott MacArthur) and Little John (Michael McDonald). However, the finale, which sees Michael proving that he may truly be immortal, is haphazardly put together and oddly anti-climactic, even with the supposed death of one of the key lead characters of the movie. Compared to the creative kills of its predecessor, this sequel is simply content to indulge in extravagant moments of gore, without the accompanying build-up in suspense or scares.
While it is to be expected that ‘Halloween Kills’ would be the weakest entry of the trilogy, it is quite shocking just how inferior Green’s follow-up is compared to his earlier film. The narrative is chaotic, the dialogue cringe-worthy, and the acting embarrassingly histrionic. Worst of all, the terror sags and then descends into caricature. There is no doubt Green had bigger conceits in mind, not least because Laurie bloviates at the end about how Michael’s immortality is built on our collective fear of him, but neither Green or the film ultimately has the dramatic heft to make them work. We’re still holding our breath for ‘Halloween Ends’ next autumn, but ‘Kills’ comes close to erasing every ounce of goodwill that its predecessor had amassed for the franchise, so here’s hoping that the ominous title of the next film does not ultimately become its death knell.
(Like the follow-ups in the franchise which followed after successful reboots, this sequel to David Gordon Green's lean, mean 2018 redo is an utter letdown, no thanks to a chaotic narrative, laughable dialogue and histronic performances)
Review by Gabriel Chong