The real villain in Halloween Kills isn’t Michael Myers; it’s a lack of common sense.
The sleepy town of Haddonfield, Ill. appears to be devoid of it on Halloween night circa 2018, the night that Myers returned to his old stomping grounds three years ago in the very solid Halloween legacy sequel. In that film, director David Gordon Green showed that a revamped Myers film really could bring forth some intelligent commentary to mix with the gruesome kills. It looked at the generational trauma that has been passed down from Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) to her daughter (Judy Greer) and granddaughter (Andi Matichak), as well as the weird obsession society has with true crime and scandalized entertainment instead of real-world tragedy.
Halloween Kills, however, tries to run it back with virtually the same set-up, but then whiffs as bad as Myers lunging at a potential victim 20 yards away. It’s a deeply stupid attempt at making something profound out of a story that’s as shallow as a kiddie pool, a bridge that never needed to be built for the inevitable final confrontation between Strode and The Shape. When you strand Jamie Lee Curtis in a bed for 105 minutes and pack in 15 characters who fail to even vaguely register the same emotional resonance that Curtis did in the 2018 film, you’re in trouble.
The second film in this planned trilogy rips all logic and reason from the new ensemble and sends them into the Myers assembly line of murder like turkeys on Thanksgiving. What’s left is a movie where Myers drives around like a moronic teenager playing Grand Theft Auto, racking up a body count with not so much a brief thought as to what any of it all means.
Gordon Green, Danny McBride. and Scott Teem’s script tries to excavate old characters from the original film and give them their 15 minutes to return, with Anthony Michael Hall’s Tommy Doyle as a survivor from that original Myers attack in 1978 who’s aching to get his revenge. While Hall adds some pathos and convincing rage to Tommy’s pain, the film hooks on him a wholly contrived subplot about the dangers of mob mentality, even though in theory, a mob would be a great idea when it came to hunting down a probably supernatural serial killer.
The movie strains itself to be relevant but comes up disappointingly short in the muddled messaging it makes out of Myers’ murders. The kills themselves feel perfunctory and, at times, accidentally comical. Myers continues to defy the laws of physics to claim his victims, and his victims continue to make the world’s dumbest decisions in order to avoid their fates.
While it’s a known horror film in-joke that those who befall the knife don’t always set themselves up well, the people in Halloween Kills make those characters look like Fulbright Scholars. Myers himself even looks a little confused at times as to why this is so easy. You strain your suspension of disbelief to reason with what’s happening in this sequel.
Sure, there’ve been worse Halloween movies, but Halloween Kills is a sad departure from the recent goodwill earned from the 2018 reset. That film really didn’t need any sequels, but as we know, the old school slashers always put butts in seats. Let’s hope by the time Halloween Ends hits theaters in 2022, those butts are met with some brains.
Halloween Kills is now playing in theaters and streaming for a limited time on Peacock. Watch the trailer here.