Halloween Kills (2021)
Director: David Gordon Green
Screenwriters: David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, Scott Teems
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, James Jude Courtney, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Anthony Michael Hall, Thomas Mann
Halloween Kills is not, as you’d think, a sequel to 2018’s Halloween, but is actually a big-budget YouTube video entitled ‘New Michael Myers Cool Kills Compilation’ which somehow got a theatrical release. Like a kid who ended up working for daddy’s company through name alone, it’s got no brains, no sense of purpose, spends all its time sitting in the corner of the office doing nothing, and won’t get fired because of who its parents are, and who runs the company (in this case both the hypothetical company, and Universal/Blumhouse/Miramax).
Picking up minutes after the 2018 film ends, Kills sees Laurie, Karen and Allyson rushed to hospital after trapping Michael Myers to burn. When firefighters turn up to put out the blaze, Michael escapes (of course), and so begins our 100 minute aimless wander from one brutal massacre to the next. A load of characters from Carpenter’s original film also appear, like Tommy Doyle, Lindsay Wallace, and Nurse Marion Chambers, in a shallow attempt to make franchise fans happy… apparently.
Half decent parts to take away are the performances (especially the ones we came for like that of Jamie Lee Curtis, when she’s actually on-screen that is), the score (that gets old after a while), and the gore effects (there’s too much of this but it’s at least done well). Take good points whilst you can, because they’re in short supply.
Halloween Kills is an absolute mess. It’s a disgrace to the original and a disgrace even to its predecessor which came out three years before. The film starts hopping from one murder to the next from about 30 seconds in, and doesn’t stop until the final seconds of the film. Interspersed are flashbacks to the original film, one or two shots from Halloween II (which now didn’t happen), recreations of stuff from Halloween II (once again, which didn’t happen), and some bits from the 2018 film. It tries to bring in all the old characters and give them new storylines, tries to do a spiel about how paranoia makes people into monsters (a storyline that feels like a completely different, unrelated movie, which got whittled in half for time and shoved into here), and still tries to actually have some kind of plot in regards to trying to stop Myers’ killing spree. The resulting film manages to shove a ridiculous amount of content down your throat without actually doing anything with it.
The directing is shambolic, with David Gordon Green adding in more of the unwelcomed zooms that he used a few times in the 2018 film. It makes you want to throw up. The editing is sloppy and unfocused (even giving Myers a slow-mo superhero-style one-against-many scene near the end, with Myers doing a graceful ballet slashing the throats of dozens, because we’re rooting for him, maybe?), and the cinematography isn’t anything to write home about either. If you’ve got a bad movie, at least make it watchable.
The problems all stem from the script, and it’s a script that is so utterly horrific it’s a wonder anyone green lighting the movie even considered it entertaining. With Laurie never even seeing Myers in this movie, she contributes literally nothing to the plot. Then there’s a storyline about Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) gathering all the townsfolk together to go after Myers, the gathering driving one of the other escaped mental hospital patients to suicide, which is supposed to say something about human beings giving into fear, and that this is Michael’s great design – but it’s so un-Myers and so corny, and is a storyline which could have literally any inciting incident other than Myers, that you wonder what it’s doing here. Answer: nothing.
And then with Michael, oh Michael Myers.
There’s confusion about whether Myers is going home, or to the hospital, or going anywhere at all, from the script as well as the characters, and that’s probably because his wandering is as aimless as his movie’s plot. One wonders if the producers had a requirement of at least one body every three minutes of screen-time, because that’s what it felt like. People are killed off who are never mentioned again and have no relevance, purely because we need more brutality, and others are carved up just for references to the original film. None of the scare sequences actually have any scare factor to them. There is no tension, no suspense, no fear, just old-man Myers lumbering around killing anyone he can find. There’s no care or consideration to the way the film paces itself, and by about thirty minutes in you’re already bored with the entire thing. It just keeps blundering on, like a lying politician, full of fluff and filler and won’t be stopped for anything.
Then it just ends. It tries some kind of emotional arc to end the film, but nothing actually climaxes. It stops in the middle of the plot, stops in the middle of the emotion, and even the final cut is too jarring. Did they just run out of time and have to cut it there? Maybe so. You can try and argue that there’s stuff to be resolved in the upcoming Halloween Ends (set for 2022), but that’s no excuse not to finish this one properly. It’s bad filmmaking.
One would have believed that Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends had been shot back to back, and that the odd scene had been moved from one film to the other and vice versa. If it comes out that there were lots of re-shoots and re-drafts of scripts, hirings and firings behind the scenes, don’t be surprised, because that’s the only possible explanation for why Halloween Kills ends up like this. It’s a filmic middle-finger to thought with some decent kills interspersed through its runtime, but that can only happen because there’s enough to choose from.