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‘Halloween Kills’ all hope in the franchise

| Friday, November 5, 2021

Claire Reid | The Observer

Do you ever feel like you’ve been cheated?

As the crowd streamed out of my local cinema after the 6 p.m. showing of “Halloween Kills,” I began to ponder where David Gordon Green and company went wrong. Green seemed to have the “Halloween” franchise under control with the release of 2018’s “Halloween,” which was by far the most promising sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 masterpiece of the same name. I had high hopes going into “Halloween Kills,” but my hopes were dashed in the ensuing 106 minutes.

“Halloween Kills” picks up where 2018’s “Halloween” left off. After locking Michael Myers in the basement of her home and burning it down, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) arrive at Haddonfield Memorial Hospital to get their wounds treated. Meanwhile, Michael escapes the burning house and makes his way to Haddonfield to continue his killing spree.

Word of Michael’s arrival spreads through the town like wildfire. Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall), the child Laurie babysat in 1978’s “Halloween,” leads a mob of Haddonfield residents hellbent on extrajudicially killing Michael Myers before the police can apprehend him.

Now, for the airing of grievances.

I think my largest gripe with this film is how it handles Michael Myers. Michael is treated like Jason Voorhees, meaning he is an unstoppable, inhuman killing machine that racks up a body count of 27 by the end of the film. The mystique found in both the 1978 original and the 2018 sequel is gone, as the film tries to psychoanalyze a character that the audience is not meant to understand. The reason Michael kills has never mattered; the lack of motivation is what makes him so terrifying in the first place. It is best to let him be “The Shape” — the faceless, motiveless killer he was in the original film.

“Halloween Kills” is utterly devoid of tension. All good horror films are predicated upon suspense, and the 1978 “Halloween” is a masterclass in that. A high body count (the highest in the franchise) and intense gore effects do not make a film suspenseful. The movie wastes a multitude of opportunities to add depth to interesting characters, instead opting to use nearly every character as fodder for Michael. It is infuriating when filmmakers confuse shock with suspense, a blunder that never fails to yield a film that is devoid of either element. That’s the case with “Halloween Kills.”

This lack of suspense or shock can also be attributed to the announcement that “Halloween Kills” is only the second film in a trilogy that will conclude with “Halloween Ends” in 2022. If the audience knows that the story won’t end in this film — and that Michael Myers cannot die in this film — what is the point of “Halloween Kills?” As far as I can tell, there is none. By the end of the film, nothing has changed.

There is also the issue of pacing; “Halloween Kills” drags. Just when things start to pick up and you start to perk up a bit, the film comes to a screeching halt. “Halloween Kills” features flashbacks, an egregious amount of time spent in a hospital and throwaway callbacks, all of which disrupt the film’s narrative rhythm. This, compounded with the lack of suspense, makes “Halloween Kills” feel lifeless.

It’s a shame to see a movie that is hollow. The entirety of “Halloween Kills” is meaningless filler — full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. If you want a slash ‘em up, go for it. For those of you looking for an exciting new entry in the “Halloween” canon, this is not that film. Instead, “Halloween Kills” is just another disappointing sequel.

Title: “Halloween Kills”

Director: David Gordon Green

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Anthony Michael Hall

Genre: Horror

If you like: “Halloween,” “Friday the 13th”

Shamrocks: 0.5 out of 5

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