‘Halloween Kills’ is dead on arrival
Blumhouse Productions’ latest entry into the iconic slasher franchise is another blunder under the belt of sequels and reboots
By Josh Hadley
It is Halloween season again and that means moviegoers are subjected to a seemingly endless cycle of sequels, nonsequels, reboots and whatever else there is to the 1978 John Carpenter slasher classic, “Halloween.”
Outside of perhaps “The Howling” franchise, I have yet to encounter an intellectual property so mishandled as “Halloween.”
Sure, some of these entries are not bad. The 1982 entry “Halloween III: Season of the Witch” is, to me, the best film in the entire franchise. Others, such as “Halloween II” and “Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers,” are pretty good for what they are: commentaries on suburbia and a logic-defying montage of a fast-walking Michael Meyers. The litany of other entries into the franchise pale in comparison to the original (looking at you Rob Zombie).
This franchise seems to revel in angering its most ardent fans more than it does in making quality movies. This is no more apparent in the latest botched release of “Halloween Kills,” which hit screens on Oct. 15.
In 2018, Blumhouse Productions, noted horror movie and television production company, rebooted the franchise with “Halloween.” The film was a huge hit for Blumhouse, despite the project’s complete lack of quality or internal logic. This inevitably meant a sequel was going to happen and moviegoers now find themselves in the middle of a planned trilogy. “Halloween
Kills” is the second film in the trilogy with “Halloween Ends” planned for October 2022.
Given this timeline, “Halloween Kills” is not a movie in and of itself; it is merely the middle section of an elongated story. This is a huge and apparent problem within the film’s two hour runtime. It has no identity of its own. The film is unwatchable without having seen the previous movie and it has no payoff at all due to it setting up the final entry in the rebooted trilogy.
The plot seemingly pretends to pick up where the previous movie left off with Officer Hawkins (Will Patton) being not as dead as he was in the last movie and then the fire set by the Strode’s family not killing Meyers as he rampages through firemen, police officers and random people on the street until a mob made up of now grown up versions of any surviving character from the first movie get massacred as well. Spoilers ahead, but the movie literally ends with a teleporting and indestructible Meyers killing everyone in his path.
The lifeless mob mentality subplot pretends to think it’s really deep, but it only seems to score a hit on real life fans who have become the mob at this point in the franchise’s history—blindly following wholly unqualified people once more into the breach.
The movie also wrestles with the fact that it has no need to exist given the story as presented. The bulk of this movie could have been a 20 to 30 minute side-plot in the next movie. There is no need for this to be its own film other than to drag out an already anemic franchise to the breaking point. Most of the film is people going from one location to another with little or no purpose and then being hit with scenes full of face-smacking inevitability. Parts of this movie play out like a parody of what a Halloween film should be.
The film is shockingly poorly written with many gaps in not only logic but in cinematic language. The film doubles down on the all the pitfalls of the 2018 movie and while trying to throw back to the 1978 original. So much of the film feels like it’s trying to remake parts of the original movie with new actors, which they edged towards using a deep-fake of Donald Pleasence that redoes
some key moments from the original. The call back to the original also includes the questionable use of a voice actor to fake passages and footage with Samuel Loomis. The film also features over the top deaths and kills, which are more comedic than they are scary.
Through all of this, there are two positives about the filmmaking. The score is amazing as always (did you expect anything less from John Carpenter) and the outdoor cinematography is very Midwestern fall and harkens back to the original atmosphere of the franchise.
The cinematic direction also gives a nod to Dean Cundy, one of the original cinematographers from “Halloween II” and “Halloween III.”
I really wanted to like this movie, I really was hoping that it would surprise me, but it was worse than the previous film which is kind of the moniker of the Halloween franchise at this point, where each movie just keeps getting worse than the previous one.
Where to see “Halloween Kills”
Josh Hadley is an analog warrior writing for the varied likes of Fangoria, Rue Morgue, Horrorhound, The Dark Side, Hustler, Delirium, Cashiers du Cinemart and many others. He’s a veteran of low-budget television and film. Flying through the night with a VCR and the perspective of a Luddite, Hadley zigs while others zag and takes you along for the ride.