Halloween Kills is one of the biggest disappointments of the year.
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Halloween Kills had the odds stacked against it. Following the incredibly successful and truly excellent Halloween (2018), it was always going to be a tough act to follow. But, the same core team behind the 2018 reboot/sequel was back for this follow-up. That gave fans some hope for something solid if not totally special. And thanks to the previous film’s critical and financial success, it seemed like this second entry in a promised trilogy was going to have the creative freedom to do something unexpected and creative.
Unfortunately, Halloween Kills ends up having one of the steepest drop-offs in quality between franchise entries in recent memory. So much of the goodwill that Halloween (2018) built up is dashed away as this sequel decides to overcomplicate itself with a mountain of ideas. One of the biggest appeals of Michael Myers and this particular slasher series is simplicity. The best entries in this decades-long saga thrive on the streamlined, shark-like qualities of its main antagonist. As soon as any of these movies try to really figure out what Michael Myers is and the motivations behind his actions, they find themselves burdened by hackneyed plots and laborious pontification. Halloween Kills is no different.
It’s a shame because there are good (but way too many) concepts in Halloween Kills. One major thread deals with other survivors of the original 1978 film getting a town mob together to hunt Michael. While this isn’t a new idea – Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers trod this ground in a more uncomplicated fashion – it’s one that could create some intriguing and compelling commentary about vigilante justice. What happens when a community tries to “kill the Boogeyman”? Sadly, this subplot ends up being one of many wheel-spinning threads that collects together a bunch of ultimately meaningless characters. And the revelations it has in store are some of the dumbest in the entire franchise and that’s saying something. Add to that blunt sociopolitical posturing and this is an utter drain on the overall movie.
What’s really shocking in comparison to Halloween (2018) is that Halloween Kills has stripped Michael Myers of his scariness. The 2018 film reestablished him as the original slasher icon and turned him into the Boogeyman once again. In this entry, he is never the creeping shadow. Instead, he has been reformed into something of a surrogate Jason Voorhees. In the absence of any Friday the 13th film thanks to legal issues, it seems that the makers behind this outing wanted to step away from Michael as a spectral force and just have him be a vehicle for violent kills. There are some entertaining murders and good gore gags, but even lots of those get hindered by bad digital blood or drawn-out stalking sequences that have none of the tension that was so omnipresent in the 2018 movie.
Possibly the worst crime Halloween Kills commits is how it treats the Strode women. The 2018 film was such a potent meditation on how trauma affected three generations of this family. In this installment, the Strodes feel stuck in lame retconning, dead-end plots, and an ultimate fate that feels like it completely misunderstood the previous story. One of the major complaints about the original Halloween II (1981) is that Laurie Strode is stuck in a hospital bed with hardly anything to do. Guess what happens in this one? To see Halloween Kills repeat the same mistakes of the past when it comes from clear fans of the series is a mind-boggling misfire.
And honestly, maybe that is part of the reason Halloween Kills is such an abysmal failure. Unlike the 2018 film which was a fresh take that still understood how to revere the original, this entry has all the makings of an awful fan film. Moronic retconning, a perverted understanding of canon, worthless characters, horrendous dialogue (this whole review could have been embarrassing quotes), and baffling structure issues turn this into one of the biggest horror disappointments of the modern age. Thank goodness for that score from John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies. Otherwise, there would be next to nothing worth recommending about this movie.
This must be what everyone who hates The Last Jedi feels like when it comes to the second entry in a rebooted trilogy. There is no doubt that Halloween Kills is in contention for the worst major studio release of the year, certainly when it comes to horror.