Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Halloween Kills Review: Leans Into Slasher Aspects, Loses The Heart

Release date: October 15, 2021
Running time: 100 minutes
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Thomas Mann, and Anthony Michael Hall 
Directed by: David Gordon Green 
Written By: Scott Teems & Danny McBride & David Gordon Green

Minutes after Laurie Strode (Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) left masked monster Michael Myers caged and burning in Laurie’s basement, Laurie is rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, believing she finally killed her lifelong tormentor. But when Michael manages to free himself from Laurie’s trap, his ritual bloodbath resumes. As Laurie fights her pain and prepares to defend herself against him, she inspires all of Haddonfield to rise up against their unstoppable monster. 

Halloween Kills is a follow up to the smash 2018 hit, Halloween, which rebooted the franchise in a clever way.  It put the victims as the aggressor, as Laurie Strode (Curtis) took to preparing for and then executing the masked killer of her nightmares.  Halloween Kills continues this story with Michael escaping and going on a rampage through the town of Haddenfield.  And the film brings back some interesting characters and storylines from the first reboot and even from the original 1978 film.  I really liked seeing the main cast back, as well as seeing characters from the classic Halloween movies. 

But whereas the first movie had an interesting role reversal, this film just can't decide what it wants to be.  It is equal parts camp and serious film, and unfortunately those do not meld very well.  I really liked the call backs to the original films and the use of characters from that those classics.  And the movie cements this in with a 1980s style opening with some nice film grain on the older scenes and a classic horror introduction that really lets you know where this is going to go.  And the camp is in full force here with characters making all the horror tropes you know and love, from going alone into areas, to splitting up, to not locking doors.  The film feels like a callback at times.  But then the film also tries to impart some more modern ideas, such as mob violence and the idea that monsters can be of our own creation. These conflicting views just don't meld well in this film, and it really should have tried to stick to one or the other.  It is tough to ask "are we the actual monsters" when Michael has already racked up a baker's dozen of kills. 

And additionally, despite the film also leaning into the slasher aspects with some brutal and bloody kills, the movie itself is very slow.  It starts with a flurry, then slows down to a crawl as the town hunts Michael.  And there is very little tension in this film because Michael is not very creative; he is usually hiding exactly where you expect him to be and kills with a brutal efficiency that would make Jason Bourne smile.  The tense scenes--with a few exceptions--are generally over within a matter of minutes, leading the film to rely a lot on exposition and the aforementioned cultural themes.  Overall, I think Halloween Kills had a really solid idea that was bogged down in execution.  

Overall, Halloween Kills does not slay it, but the brutal violence and classic characters should appease fans of the originals.

Watch it.

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Halloween Kills is in theaters and on Peacock on October 15, 2021.  For showtimes, click here.

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