‘Halloween Kills’ doesn’t quite kill it

Written By Dan Russo, For The Globe

4 Globes

We are at a crossroads in horror. A genre as old as the medium of film itself, it has evolved from old rubber suits to shaky cam ghost movies and everything in between. The slasher genre in particular has gone through multiple incarnations, having been permanently changed by 1996’s “Scream.” When ghost movies took over in tandem with bad “Scream” knockoffs in the 2000s, it seemed like the slasher genre had nowhere left to go. That was until 2018, which by all accounts was a phonemical year for horror with “A Quiet Place,” “Hereditary,” “The House That Jack Built” and “Halloween” (2018).

“Halloween” (2018) is a masterclass in how to reboot a film franchise. It does the source material justice by doing something new with a long-running franchise and justifies its existence completely. There are references to the older films everywhere, from the dialogue to the way the film itself is shot. In my opinion, it is one of the best horror films of the past decade, and certainly the best film of the 2000s and 2010s horror reboot movement that started with the remake of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” way back in 2003. “Halloween” (2018) is a true labor of love and definitely worth your time and was supposed to be followed up by “Halloween Kills” in October of 2020, which was pushed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Halloween Kills” hits its stride in its classic slasher kill sequences and soundtrack, and boy are they vivid. These are some of the most brutal slasher deaths I have ever seen, and I recently started getting heavy into giallo films, an Italian thriller-horror genre. If you’re squeamish, you might want to skip this movie. Additionally, former director and series creator John Carpenter reprises his role in the soundtrack department, and his timeless musical stings certainly aid in the “old but new” vibe the Halloween reboot series gives off.

Another standout point of the film is the discussion of human morality. One of the best scenes is in the middle of the film and doesn’t even involve Michael Myers. This movie knows how to play with the audience’s expectations and is a better film for it. The same can’t be said for the dialogue and final act, unfortunately.

Despite still being a very good slasher movie, “Halloween Kills” is ultimately marred by its writing and plot, especially in the late stages of the film. It’s not all bad, though. Characters who were children in the original film come back and help add to the worldbuilding of Haddonfield. The ambiguity of the ending of the original film is also finally completed by this film through some very cool flashback sequences. As a longtime fan of the “Halloween” film franchise, these were very cool things to finally see done right on the big screen (especially that fresh William Shatner mask).

Characters tend to repeat themselves a lot, and the film isn’t exactly newcomer friendly. I found myself having to whisper plot details that the film left out to my girlfriend, who hadn’t seen any other films in the series. Luckily, if you have any remote interest in seeing this film, you only need to watch two movies to get up to speed—the original and “Halloween” (2018.) The timeline has been streamlined with the release of “Halloween” (2018), and the rest of the films are no longer canon, as fun as some of them are.
I think my largest spoiler-free beef with this film is the overuse of the “too dumb to live” trope. The characters aren’t that bright in this film and often die in contrived ways. Most people in this movie die because it’s a slasher film and not because Michael Myers bested them. This is so frustrating to see when “Halloween” (2018) didn’t really have this issue at all.

Overall, “Halloween Kills” is a great time and an absolute blast to see in the theaters. However, it doesn’t hit the soaring highs of the 2018 reboot which is an absolute shame. As a long running fan of the series, I’m disappointed with the way the story is going, but I will hold any judgement until “Halloween Ends” releases next year. If you don’t have time to get out to the movies, then you can also watch it on Peacock.