HALLOWEEN KILLS review by Mark Walters – Michael Myers is back in a somewhat messy sequel

HALLOWEEN KILLS review by Mark Walters – Michael Myers is back in a somewhat messy sequel

We should have had a nice Halloween treat last October, but like many films, thanks to Covid, HALLOWEEN KILLS became yet another cinematic casualty, at least for 2020. David Gordon Green‘s newest sequel follows up the smash hit 2018 sequel to the original John Carpenter film. It’s now hitting theaters this weekend, bringing back Jamie Lee Curtis as “Laurie Strode”, Judy Greer as Laurie’s daughter, and Andi Matichak as Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson Nelson. Also joining the chaos in Haddonfield (why would anyone live there now?) is original HALLOWEEN 1978 cast members Nancy Stephens as nurse Marion Chambers, Charles Cyphers as Sheriff Leigh Brackett, and Kyle Richards as Lindsey Wallace who Laurie was the babysitter for in the original film. Anthony Michael Hall also joins the cast this time playing Tommy Doyle, who was previously played by Paul Rudd in HALLOWEEN 5: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS. This is the second film of a new trilogy, which will be followed by HALLOWEEN ENDS in 2022.

Picking up where the last film left off, this installment opens with characters you might have forgotten about from the 2018 story – Allyson’s almost-boyfriend Cameron (Dylan Arnold), who we last saw at the Halloween party Allyson left in an angry huff, finds the still-alive body of Officer Hawkins (Will Patton) in the road… for those who don’t remember, the crazy prison doctor in the last film stabbed Officer Hawkins rather suddenly, leaving him for dead, and allowing Michael Myers to escape for more carnage… and it didn’t work out too well for that doctor. As Cameron talks to Hawkins, who is bleeding from the neck profusely, Hawkins laments about how it was his own fault that Michael is still alive. And through a series of flashbacks to 1978 and Michael’s original night of carnage, we see how a young version of Hawkins (played by Thomas Mann) accidentally shot his own partner while trying to kill Michael, and prevented other cops from shooting Michael once they subdued him, meaning if not for him Michael would have (potentially) died that night, all those years ago. This was actually one of my favorite moments in the film, as the filmmakers did a great job of capturing the look and feel of the original HALLOWEEN, even featuring a creative sort of “cameo” of the original Dr. Loomis.

Back in the present (or, uh, 2018), as Laurie and her daughter and granddaughter are escaping Laurie’s burning home in which Michael was trapped at the end of the 2018 film, they see fire trucks racing toward it and scream in terror at them as they desperately want Michael to die in the blaze. And of course, those firefighters allow him to escape, and clearly the smoke inhalation didn’t slow him down one bit. From there we skip across town to a bar with a talent show happening, meet a young couple bored on Halloween night, and watch as they meet a group of “survivors” who all had their own terrifying experiences with Michael Myers back in 1978 – one being Cameron’s father Lonnie (Robert Longstreet) who has a back story added through flashback, sitting next to Nancy Stephens as nurse Marion Chambers and Kyle Richards as Lindsey Wallace, and Anthony Michael Hall playing Tommy Doyle. Tommy shares their story with the young couple, and while they’re reminiscing they hear the news about Laurie’s home burning down and realize Michael is back, leading Tommy to rile up locals to hunt down Michael for overdue revenge… utilizing the chant of “Evil dies tonight!” in the process. This portion of the film is where things take an odd turn, showing how the town allows their fear to turn them into monsters, but the plot element never quite seems to play out organically, and at times feels almost comical. Not to worry though, there’s still plenty of Michael Myers violently killing people along the way.

While HALLOWEEN KILLS delivers a lot of what we’ve come to expect from these sorts of movies, and continues the storyline that started in the 2018 sequel/reboot, it’s nowhere near as polished or satisfying as what came before it. For one thing, the tone of the film is all over the place. At one point you’ll be cowering in fear over Michael’s sinister actions, then next thing you know you’re laughing at something absurd and at times just silly. I’ve never thought of the HALLOWEEN movies as comedies, but theres a few times where HALLOWEEN KILLS seems like it’s heavily leaning that way, just never naturally. And many of the events that play out in the film are just quirky and at times annoying. Even Michael’s kills are sloppy and weird on occasion, almost like people are just sitting there waiting to be slaughtered. I saw this in a packed house, and judging by the audience reactions, I think they were more frustrated than entertained. It also doesn’t help that Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie spends the bulk of the run time sedated in the hospital, though I’m sure we’ll see more of her in next year’s HALLOWEEN ENDS. I like seeing Curtis in these new movies, and she was pretty great in the 2018 entry, so it makes her story-mandated absence here a bit of a letdown. It doesn’t help either that her few scenes in this installment aren’t terribly memorable. More disappointing is Anthony Michael Hall as Tommy Doyle, who becomes an almost satirical character rather than a welcome addition to the cast. You get the sense that Doyle could have been a great character here, and instead becomes one of the more faulty aspects of the story. Faring better is Kyle Richards returning as Lindsey Wallace, really playing her role in an authentic and sincere way, and becoming the most effective of the added characters. I also liked seeing Charles Cyphers back as former Sheriff Brackett, though some of these characters being included feels a little forced or perhaps too convenient… more fan service than organic storytelling.

Director David Gordon Green does a fine job with the visuals and intense violence in the movie, but the somewhat convoluted script makes this entry hard to enjoy, definitely not as cohesive or satisfying as the 2018 effort. One thing that’s certain here is that no one is safe, literally anyone on screen could die at any moment, even those you might not expect to… and there’s at least one kill I actually got a little angry about, and a few I just found a bit overly brutal. Sequels have a tendency to fall short of the original films, and that’s definitely the case with HALLOWEEN KILLS, but one can only hope it’s an unfortunately sloppy middle chapter to a new trilogy. I very much enjoyed the last one, and I’m anxious to see how they resolve things in HALLOWEEN ENDS next year, which supposedly will have a time jump in the story, being set years after the events of this one. If you go to these movies just to see Michael Myers be an unstoppable killing machine, chances are you’ll be fine with what’s here, but I’m hoping the next film not only has more important things to say but does a better job with how it says them.

HALLOWEEN KILLS opens October 15, 2021

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About the Author

Born and raised in Dallas, Mark has been a movie critic since 1994, with reviews featured in print, radio and National TV. In 2001 he started the Entertainment section of the Herorealm website, where he contributed film reviews and celebrity interviews until 2004. After three years of service there, he started Bigfanboy.com, which has become one of the Dallas film community's leading information websites. Bigfanboy hosts several movie screenings in the Texas area, and works closely with film and TV studios and promotional partners to host exciting events and contests. The site also features a variety of rare celebrity and filmmaker interviews, and Bigfanboy.com regularly covers the film festival circuit as well. In addition to Hollywood reporting, Mark has worked for many years as an advertising and sci-fi/comic book artist. Clients have included Lucasfilm Ltd., Topps Trading Cards, The Dallas Mavericks and The Dallas Stars. From 2002 until 2015 he managed the Dallas Comic Con, Sci-Fi Expo and Fan Days events in the DFW area. He currently catalogs rare comic books and movie memorabilia for Heritage Auctions, and runs the Dallas Comic Show conventions, but remains an avid moviegoer and cinema buff.