After the blockbuster success of Halloween 2018, it was a foregone conclusion we would see a sequel. Shortly thereafter not one but two sequels were announced, the first of which would be HALLOWEEN KILLS. All the cooks piled back into the kitchen to repeat their successful formula lead by writer-director David Gordon Green. Danny McBride also returns to co-write and produce with Scott Teems closing out the scribe trio. Sad to say this one is a disappointment that is hampered by an abundance of gore, messy writing, and the threadbare desire to stretch the narrative over two additional films.
To quickly recap; Halloween 2018 created yet another timeline in the Halloween universe by disregarding every other Halloween film but the original. It picked up 40 years later with Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) a survivalist recluse, ultimately facing Michael again at her compound. That installment left Laurie, her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) sitting in the back of a truck being raced to the hospital as Michael is trapped in the basement of her burning home. The end, right? Nope. HALLOWEEN KILLS opens seconds after the 2018 film. Laurie, Karen, and Allyson are managing Laurie’s substantial wounds as fire trucks whiz past them toward the fire. Laurie screams out at them to let Michael burn. I really wished they would have listened.
Clumsy firefighters arrive at Laurie’s burning home only to encounter Michael in the basement where they should have left him. Michael gets out, takes on an entire team of firefighters, and heads out to continue his killing spree. Meanwhile, Laurie and the multiple victims from the 2018 film begin to pile up at Haddonfield Memorial Hospital. We are then treated to Michael/aka The Shape (Nick Castle) killing his way through the neighborhood with gratuitous brutality and moments of Laurie in emergency surgery to close her up.
Across town, a Halloween Talent show is going on at a local bar. Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) emerges from a raucous group of partiers to regale the bar with how he survived Haddonfield’s boogieman so many years ago along with friends Lindsey (Kyle Richards), Marion (Nancy Stephens,) and Lonnie (Robert Longstreet). Unaware of what has been happening in their town that night, Tommy reminds the crowd to never give in to fear again. Moments later, after learning of Michael’s return to Haddonfield, he leads the crowd in the bar in a vigilante mob to hunt Michael down. Ok, what?
Where is Michael headed? Is he after Laurie? Will the town mob succumb to fear and offer violence for violence? Ignoring the contrivance of Michael surviving certain death we finally get to some interesting questions only to have Green, McBride, and Teems buckle under the task at hand which is to give the slasher genre some true substance. DAMMIT, they were so close which makes this all the more frustrating.
Despite the problems, there are still glimmering bits of horror joy. The practical gore effects are impressive pieces of work even though they are more wince-inducing than frightening. Curtis‘ Laurie is a horror legend and a joy to watch on screen no matter how absurd the scenario. It doesn’t get better than her. Greer‘s Karen actually makes us sympathize with Karens. The score by Cody Carpenter, John Carpenter, and Daniel A. Davies is even more effective than Halloween 2018 with some savage synth rifts that snag the psyche. Finally, David Gordon Green‘s work, however flawed, reflects a sincere love of the franchise and the genre. He’s really digging for some substance and a far deeper reward than the brief thrill of violence and jump scares. There is even a rather effective flashback narrative to the moments after the events in Halloween (1978) that tease resonance. So, so close.
If you are a fan of the original, a fan of the 2018 film, or a fan of the franchise, you should be fine here, left only with a lingering feeling of dissatisfaction. There is enough here to entertain all who are interested in Laurie Strode and The Shape as well as fans and horror lovers, myself included. Halloween 2018 focused on the effect that trauma has on the victim. HALLOWEEN KILLS unsuccessfully dives into the effect of trauma on a community. What will the following film offer? Can it be closure and a dignified bookend to one of the greatest horror villains and scream queens to ever grace the screen? Please?
5 out of 10