Halloween Kills

Halloween Kills ★★

Before I begin, please note that I am not only a critic but a lifelong fan of the Halloween franchise, so this review is coming from a place of love rather than hate. Also keep in mind that if I'm coming off as vague about certain things, it's because I do not want to spoil the movie for anyone. All of that being said, this movie is bad.

I was a big fan of the previous film, but Halloween Kills not only doesn't feel like a Halloween film tonally, but the conflict of the previous movie (that being of Laurie and Michael) is put on the backburner in favor of having a million plot threads that ultimately go nowhere in a climax that amounts to barely anything and just puts us right back at square one where the movie began, rendering this whole film completely pointless. The only big event of consequence in the film takes place literally at the very end, but it's not impactful and it's so abrupt that when it cut to credits I had barely even processed what just happened. So what we have here is an unfocused, cluttered mess of a film that doesn't give the proper development to the right storylines and instead tries to do so much to develop both the town as well as some returning characters from both the previous film and the original, that it really doesn't accomplish anything, making me wonder why we even have this movie in the first place apart from monetary value and very weak set-ups for Halloween Ends.

I'll get into my other issues with the film in a bit, but first I do want to talk about what I did like in this one, and there are definitely aspects of merit here. The kills are really solid and incredibly brutal, and for a character who doesn't have a whole lot of screentime, Michael's body count is admittedly impressive. This definitely sports the most gruesome and visceral kills of the series, and the practical gore effects are commendable, to say the least. Some of the performances are good, with Jamie Lee Curtis (with very minimal screentime) and Will Patton being standouts once again. Anthony Michael Hall is also really strong as Tommy Doyle, and his plotline does have some interesting ideas thematically, even if they feel like they amount to nothing. The film also does go by at a solid pace, and it's never particularly boring, even with its very messy structure. There's definitely some entertainment value present, and fans of the series will get a few solid thrills out of it for sure. There are definitely some strong ideas present, and some of them are executed alright, mainly the fact that this picks up where the last one left off, giving a sense of urgency to the events taking place. And that's about it for positives.

As for aspects that I was mixed on, there are a couple. The score is fairly good, but most of the time it does not fit with the film at all, and it really took me out of it, which is strange seeing how John Carpenter was the lead composer. But it just doesn't fit at all with the events taking place and it sucks any of the tension from the scenes taking place when it goes full throttle, but it does have a few good tracks, and I can see those that don't work in the film being fun to listen to in their own right. The returning characters from the original are another aspect I'm a bit in the middle on. In concept, it's really cool, and I can generally buy why all of them would return. Some of them get some cool moments for sure, and I was glad to see them again. That being said, it does feel like they are doing some hard nostalgia baiting, and none of them really get any proper development or character resolution at all, so most of them feel like wasted potential. I never felt a sense of satisfaction with any of them. Judy Greer's Karen is a bit more tolerable this time around, and as a fan of Greer, I was happy to see her performance improve in this one. That being said, she gets a sort of odd subplot in the middle of the film that just doesn't need to be there, and it feels like it's just there for you to gain some respect for Karen as a character after she whined and complained through most of the previous one, but it just feels tacked on and unnecessary. Her daughter, Allyson, feels a bit underutilized too, even if Andi Matichak does turn in solid work as the character once again.

Now for the nitty-gritty, the negatives (apart from what I've already discussed of course). As mentioned earlier, none of the added plot threads in this film ever really go anywhere, which creates some frustration and has our heroes swimming around in a murky water of nothingness. There's so real sense of purpose, especially when it comes to the flashback sequences in this one. The flashbacks just felt so unnecessary, and they're only there to give a certain character development and to set up their arc in the next film, and they just don't belong here. It's also very repetitive because you can essentially sum up the plot of this movie in "Character monologue about how emotionally damaged they are from Michael Myers and say 'Michael needs to die' every five minutes, meanwhile Michael kills a person or two" and rinse and repeat for 105 minutes. That's essentially this movie in a nutshell, so it can get pretty grating by the end. Speaking of which, the ending is kind of dumb and doesn't make sense for many reasons. Not just the final scene, but the climax in general. It's building up to this big showdown of sorts and it's so anticlimactic and makes this whole storyline feel pointless. And to springboard off of that, the characters are some of the dumbest in the entire franchise. Whereas at least in a lot of the other films, characters don't know that Michael is afoot, thus when they do dumb things that lead to their death, you at least understand that they don't know what they're walking into. But a good chunk of Michael's victims in this one are fully aware of what they're getting themselves into, yet they're so frustratingly incompetent that I was rooting for Michael to kill them simply because they lack any common sense. It's truly baffling how dumb some of the characters are, especially the ones who are actively hunting Michael down in the film. Usually in a slasher, that wouldn't really bother me, but considering the context, it's just ridiculous. And on that note, this doesn't really feel like a Halloween movie to me. Sure, Michael Myers kills people, and Laurie Strode is there too, but it's so unfocused and tries to do so much in the way of subplots that it kind of loses its footing and makes Michael and the "slasher" element of the film get lost in the shuffle; Michael also just isn't very intimidating or scary this time around, despite his warped appearance and a great physical performance. If I cared about any of the characters and they were well-developed, maybe that wouldn't be as much of an issue, but the spirit and atmosphere of the franchise are just not really here sadly.

So as a whole, Halloween Kills does have some intriguing ideas and some really fun and awesomely gory kills, but it amounts to barely anything at all with a ton of aimless plot threads and sequel set-ups that consume most of the film's runtime. There's no real sense of satisfaction by the end, and I don't mean that in the way the filmmakers intended. Rather than give fans the movie they want right away, they just want you to wade through this mess of a film to hopefully see the real Halloween movie which you won't get to see until next year. It's a real shame, I was really rooting for this one.
GRADE: C-

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