Cert – 18, Run-time – 1 hour 45 minutes, Director – David Gordon Green
The residents of Haddonfield unite to finally take down Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney/ Nick Castle) after he survives a fire in Laurie Strode’s (Jamie Lee Curtis) home, while she recovers in hospital believing him to be dead.
Back in 2001 to truly show the ridiculous lengths that it had stretched to the Friday The 13th franchise came up with, arguably the worst film in the series, Jason X. Not only launching the silent killer into space but also turning him into a literal machine, kitted out with full shining silver armour, the kind you only find in cheap early-2000s sci-fi flicks. While Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney/ Nick Castle) doesn’t get the same treatment, after surviving being trapped in a fire-flooded basement, in Halloween Kills he certainly feels almost frustratingly indestructible. Although, perhaps this is because there’s not much around him that can possibly kill him as he seemingly attempts to make his way back to his childhood home – killing everyone in every house and park along the way. It becomes apparent that almost every character we spend more than five minutes with, preparing to do battle with the masked figure in the dead of night, is being set up to die because of their own ineptitude. Almost every character in this film is an idiot.
As we barely see Jamie Lee Curtis’ staggeringly underused Laurie Strode spend most of her small amount of screen time in a hospital bed – recovering from the events of the previous film, this one picking up immediately after – or shouting at the growing mob in the corridors, the residents of Haddonfield prepare to end the terror of Michael Myers once and for all. Led by previous victims or people who have encountered him, particularly Anthony Michael Hall taking on the role of Tommy Doyle, there are plenty of scenes focusing on the escalating numbers and anger of the mob.
Strode’s daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak), also play bigger roles in this sequel as they try to prevent Laurie from discovering that Michael is in fact still alive, while assisting the mob or going out on their own missions. If the last film was about trauma this one is about generational trauma. It’s stated at one point that Michael “has infected my family, he’s infected your family; with grief and fear for 40 years”. However, amongst the other points and themes that the film is juggling many ideas simply get drowned out and never really have as much effect as they would perhaps like. This is amongst various flashbacks to moments in Michael Myers’ past (Airon Armstrong taking on duties for the 1978 figure) – to show just how many people are still hurt from his actions 40 years prior and just how much stronger he becomes every time he is knocked down – and of course killings in the present (2018) day. There’s a lot crammed in to Halloween Kills and it certainly feels busy on a number of occasions.
Many scenes come with plenty of build-up just to get to one short burst of summarised dialogue. It generally feels as if the film could be made much shorter by just having characters get to the point more quickly. It would also perhaps help boost some of the film’s tension and mean that certain points have more room to breathe instead of having to wait for crowds of people to run through multiple hospital corridors for a not overly effective conclusion where the outcome can be seen by the viewer a fair while before it’s finally delivered.
Amongst everything that the film brings up it’s sometimes hard not to question whether the film is trying to be a parody of the slasher genre. Certainly certain actions and indeed killings begin to stray towards laughter territory rather than that of fear – and for some audience members, at one point myself included, this clearly becomes the case. It comes from the truly stupid decisions of a number of characters, none of whom we form a connection with, partly due to their own idiocy when confronting the armed figure of Michael Myers and also the general lack of screen-time that anyone gets. This all comes after initial killings which almost seem to dwell too much on the justifiably 18 rated gore and violence of the film. Not that this is generally a negative, but certainly as it seems to almost be emotionless in depiction during the first couple of instances and there’s a lack of response from the viewer it almost feels as if the film dwells on such moments for just a bit too long.
In a number of ways, for both plotting, themes, character, etc Halloween Kills feels a rather different film from the one that came before it. The feeling of a bridge film – before Halloween Ends comes out to complete what is currently a trilogy of sequels to the 1978 original – isn’t quite present throughout, although it does make an appearance at the very end, as is perhaps to be expected from a bridge film. Generally the structure, tone and feel of this second film fluctuates throughout. At times feeling like a gore-dwelling slasher, at others something of a parody of the genre; due to plenty of frustrating character decisions. The film is very busy and manages to both rush and stagger through its various themes with not a great deal of response – aside from occasional bafflement and slight irritation – from the viewer. Hopefully it’s just juggling all the elements so that we can get a smoother, more consistent final showdown (properly featuring and using Laurie Strode) when Halloween Ends.
While building up to having its moments Halloween Kills knocks itself down with inconsistent, not always properly established, tones that only lead to further frustration for the viewer who’s already dealing with the many baffling decisions of the multiple characters throughout the film.