In 1978, John Carpenter set the horror genre on its ears with his seminal “Halloween,” the story of a mass murderer who terrorizes a family and the sleepy town of Haddonfield, IL.
In 2018, David Gordon Green added a fresh spin on the Halloween franchise, with its twelfth entry, “Halloween,” a solid continuation of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). However, its story elements essentially wiped out the second through eleventh films in the franchise. The thirteenth entry in the franchise, “Halloween Kills,” hits cinemas and the premium side of the Peacock streaming service today.
This latest entry sees the return of director David Gordon Green, who co-wrote the script with Danny McBride and Scott Teems. The events in “Halloween Kills” start immediately after 2018’s “Halloween” and use references from the 1978 classic to backfill certain character elements in the modern tale.
At its nerve center is a wounded Laurie Strode who believes she has left Michael behind to die a horrible death in a blazing fire. Curtis’ performance is singularly the best part of “Halloween Kills” as Green doesn’t necessarily focus on her but reminds the audience that she is a key, dramatic part of the events in this film.
Similarly, Judy Greer as Karen Nelson, Laurie’s daughter, and Andi Matichak as Allyson, Laurie’s granddaughter turn in solid and dramatic performances in the middle of hell. A surprising element was Will Patton’s Deputy Frank Hawkins, who was stabbed at the end of the 2018 film. Green focused his energy on Frank and Laurie’s interaction.
If “Halloween Kills” were solely about this interaction and its implications on Michael Myers (portrayed by James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle) and encircled with Myers’ rampage, it would make for a hearty follow-up indeed.
Unfortunately, Green is not able to pull an Irvin Kershner-like “The Empire Strikes Back” middle film out of this trilogy, and even worse, there’s no big reveal. Instead, “Halloween Kills” serves as a lowly stepchild to the superior first film and the 1978 classic. The townsfolk of Haddonfield are hell-bent on stopping Michael’s rampage, and Green et al. turn the incidental characters like Anthony Michael Hall’s Tommy Doyle into scared-for-their-lives characters, giving a Frankenstein mythic quality to this film, replacing the pitchforks and torch sticks with pistols, shotguns, and axes.
Amongst the citizens of Haddonfield are two characters from the original film reprising their roles, namely Charles Cyphers as Leigh Brackett (no relation to the screenwriter of “The Empire Strikes Back”) and Nancy Stephens as Marion Chambers.
There is some common sense from those select few who have survived their encounters with Michael, but it wears off as a cat-and-mouse chase develops.
If you buy into the hysterics, then “Halloween Kills” works, especially with the carnage, which is gruesomely violent. Yet, there is no feeling, a tip of the hat to the antagonist-at-large, and a helpless sheriff (Omar Dorsey) to stop it.
Much like “Quantum of Solace,” “Halloween Kills” sits as a double-feature with the 2018 “Halloween” (and might even play better as such); perhaps even as a triple-threat with Carpenter’s classic, who also scored this film’s music with his son Cody and long-time collaborator, Daniel Davies, a highlight of the film.
At the end of this gruesome evening, “Halloween Kills” feels like it is trying to self-contain its story threads, which works against the film. Long-time fans will find much to like about its carnage but will find little value elsewhere.