**editor’s note: This is one of those instances where we will discuss portions of the movie’s climax. It is impossible to talk about the biggest place “Halloween Kills” goes wrong without a discussion of the climax because that is where the problem is most apparent. In other words: THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW. We have done our best to keep these to a minimum, but if you want to be completely surprised by everything that happens in the movie, don’t read this review.**
Originally set for release in October 2020, serial killer Michael Myers’ newest adventure, “Halloween Kills,” could not have been made as a response to the January 6th riot of this year. It is, however, a movie made after the white supremacist march in Charlottesville in 2017. Being released in the wake of these two events, this is a movie that focuses heavily on mob mentality, while never truly assessing it, and there’s something truly awful in that. It is a movie that makes the murderer at the film’s center, the man who inflicts so much horror on so many and has across multiple films, the closest thing we get to a good guy. Michael Myers, whom we watch kill with abandon, finds our sympathies during the movie’s climactic moments and the film itself, while it may intend for this to occur, doesn’t deal with it in any way.
Yes, what director David Gordon Green, who also directed the previous entry in the franchise, has brought us is the perfectly logical extension of many horror movies. After all, people go to these movies to see the kills, to see what sort of gruesome deaths the filmmakers have worked out this time, so why wouldn’t we want to root for the murderer. “Halloween Kills” just about makes that happen.
Or, is that all wrong? Is the script from Scott Teems & Danny McBride & Green (the last two of which also wrote the previous film alongside Jeff Fradley) so oblivious to what is going on that they believe we will cheer on Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) and the mob he riles up?
That can’t be the case. Green and company provide ample evidence of the evil that mobs do. We are clearly meant to feel terrible about a mob of people going off half-cocked.
So, the mob is evil. It has to be, but there is no exploration of this fact. It is just a thing that happens and from which we move on in order to get to the next bit of violence. There is ample opportunity for Tommy and the mob to look around and think about the horrible things they do and change, but that doesn’t happen.
Beyond that, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) herself stands against mob mentality. It’s not that she doesn’t have it out for Michael still, it’s just that she knows that the mob can’t be trusted to only kill those who have to die. Laurie Strode might be perfectly in favor of this film’s end, either that or she would think that the solutions don’t go far enough (presumably Michael Myers will be returning for the next movie, “Halloween Ends”).
We are, unquestionably, meant to see “Kills,” in part, as a tale of revenge – the mob is trying to get back at those who have wronged them. We have seen tales of revenge before; we like to see our heroes go out and do things like find the Six-Fingered Man and avenge a loved one’s death. But, “Halloween Kills” is different. It is different in its complete and total brutality, in its darkness.
The movie loves its violence. It loves its blood and guts and brains. More than once when one believes the camera will turn away, we get an extra shot or two of the gore, just to make sure we really see it. When one notable death occurs off screen we are truly shocked by there being some semblance of restraint (it could also be that they were just out of ideas for how to kill someone else — there is a lot of death here).
Watching it all unfold, we might be led to believe that the film is promoting the actions some of its “heroes” take. This belief is enhanced by a complete lack of self-assessment. The only goal for the movie is to get to the next death and the one after that and the one after that. The goal is to watch the good guys stumble just long enough that Michael Myers can go out and kill more folks.
One of the best characters put forward by the movie isn’t Laurie (who is sidelined for much of the film) or Tommy or Karen (Judy Greer) or Allyson (Andi Matichak) or Frank Hawkins (Will Patton) or Big John (Scott MacArthur) or Little John (Michael McDonald), even if these last two are pretty great. No, it Omar J. Dorsey’s Sheriff Barker, a man who is just trying to hold the town together long enough for his men to catch Michael Myers and end the killing spree. Naturally, the film seems to forget about him as it continues. It has to. If it were to give the character his due, things may have turned out differently. They probably wouldn’t have been less bloody, but they very well may have been more sensible.
Now, naysayers will shout from the rooftops that this movie is only the second installment in the trilogy, that we can’t really just go by what’s happening here, that it’s all leading somewhere. Although we may indeed be headed somewhere and “Halloween Ends” may make clear the story Green and company are telling, the complete lack of introspection in this entry is still a problem. The characters who would be deemed heroes are most definitely not, but the movie is hesitant (at best) to acknowledge as much. Perhaps by the time everything is said and done, yes, that will be adjusted, but each individual entry must stand on its own and “Halloween Kills” does not.
Horror fans may watch this movie and thrill at the unabashed violence of it all. However, the law of diminishing returns sets in early on and each death is less engaging, no matter how much faked blood is pumped onto the screen.
Featuring too many characters with too little depth, “Halloween Kills” proves it is a movie far more interested in blood and gore than it is in the messages it is putting forward. It is not worth the effort.
photo credit: Universal Pictures