Halloween Kills

Halloween Kills ★★½

Back around 1986 or so when first talks about a new Michael Myers lead Halloween started, John Carpenter and Debra Hill, who still co-owned the series with producer Moustapha Akkad, worked ideas with horror novelist Dennis Etchison who wrote an unproduced script (the parts couldn't agree on creative direction and Akkad eventually bought Carpenter/Hill out). I mention this because Halloween Kills seems clearly influenced by that unmade film which was about the shadow Michael left in Haddonfield and heavily feature a lynching mob. Of course, upgraded to "Trump's America" in the least subtle manner possible, on this it feels very much the sibling to Green's first Halloween dealing with its subject with as little tact and intelligence as that movie approached "women's trauma".

While this is also not a good movie, it is an improvement in that Green's anger registers as genuine and he isn't simple playing with signifiers (also a wild guess: getting pushed a year really killed this one, reception would have been far warmer if it had come out in October 2020). If the early movie was about Curtis' Laurie, this one is about Haddonfield and the city is portrait in as hateful manner as possible, the most thrilling thing about this film, is to watch Green going back to a lot of his early tricks, not to make a poetic vision of working class but a gruesome violent lament (and that's probably the key to the movie as a felt ugly alienated personal expression). Halloween brings back as many characters from the 1978 original as it can (even one nobody, but the more hardcore fans would think about), but it offers no fan service, everyone is deranged and hateful (it also does the same for Laurie's grandaugther that functions as her double/1978 stand in in the previous movie).

Curtis is barely in it. remaining in a hospital bed throughout, although she does get a terrific scene with Will Patton explaining to her that she is not Michael Myers fixation she always thought she was (she is good here, but almost always a pure reactive character). 'The central figures are her daughter (Judy Greer, again very good), the closest the movie has to a sane well-grounded person, and her metaphorical son Tommy Doyle (the little kid from the first film who grows up not to geeky Paul Rudd of part 6, but an angry resentful Anthony Michael Hall who does everything but wear a MAGA hat), she is the one person screaming for everyone to let the authorities work, he leads the mob and of course gets a lot of people killed.

Like the first movie this is very interested in the notion of Michael as someone who poisons everything on sight and it often good when playing with that idea. Outside of Greer, the only characters that register as even slight likable are Patton and the mental patient the mob mistakes for Michael, everyone else is self-involved, violent and full of rage even most of the random victims. A runner throughout the movie is that barely any victim tries to run from Michael, they just attack him back, it is like everyone around him has turned into sequels Loomis.

I'm not very fond of Green's take on Michael as one thing I enjoy about the series is that for a slasher supernatural killer he is usually shown as smart and focused, and while this makes clearly that he just wants to go home, his bloodlust is far too out of control, just a super strong serial killer out at night, this fits what Green is doing but it is boring. Green also remains bad at directing horror setpieces, there's no danger or suspense to anything here, just brutality. The body count is ridiculous high (I haven't seen the Zombie movies, but it far surpasses anything in any other Halloween) and a lot of the deaths are very gory, but there's no style. The final scene fits the movie overall ideas, and anyone smart will see it coming, but it is so terrible staged, the worst sort of final second schlock bad slashers go for.

Also on the downside, the opening is a long 1978 flashback to Patton's character memories of the first movie aftermath that plat like an open ended Halloween videogame complete with CGI Donald Pleasance. There's no narrative momentum as the movie shifts between Michael senseless killing people at random with the town going increasing nuts as a reaction, but while this makes Halloween Kills a bad genre movie, it does add up to the overall idea of a mad sad place that puts itself on fire because it just can't let go of its resentments and I do think at moments Green hits something primal that for all his faults does register strongly, among other things through the way it feels too out of control to kind fit its cynical product origins,

What I think ultimate makes this more of an interesting failure is that Green is too much of a Carpenter fan. Halloween Kills wants to merry Green's very brute physical idea of Michael with Carpenter's more metaphysical concept of pure evil, he is his body count, a bad cloud over the town, everyone keeps calling him "the boogeyman", the last act even introduces the idea that Michael gets stronger with each new kill. It is far too many conflicting ideas for someone who is more a figure for other characters to react against. The more grounded unstoppable killer that is actually on screen and this out of the world creature everyone talks about never go together and the film's final ten minutes are betting that they will. It wants to be a very physical manifestation of society illness and a story of ancient evil reduced to its essentials and Green just isn't the guy to pull the balance. An ugly film, but I can't deny the thing does have a certain power.

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