Halloween Kills picks up the moment 2018’s Halloween left off: Deputy Frank Hawkins (Will Patton) is bleeding out from a neck wound, Michael Myers is trapped in a burning basement, and the Strode women (Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andy Matichak) are on their way to the hospital in the back of a pickup truck – with Curtis’ Laurie trying very hard to keep her guts from spilling out.
If Halloween (2018) was about exploring Laurie’s PTSD and the Strode family’s intergenerational wounds, then Halloween Kills is about the town of Haddonfield and unpacking its citizens’ collective trauma. To do this, the film checks in with characters from the original film, including Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall, the de facto co-lead opposite Greer’s Karen Strode) and Lonnie Elam (Robert Longstreet). Other characters even see the same actor who embodied the role more than 40 years ago return, such as Kyle Richards’ Lindsey, Nancy Stephens' nurse Marion, and Charles Cyphers’ Leigh Brackett.
Though the intent is to look at the broader impact Myers’ actions have had, the re-introduction of so many characters can’t help but feel like narrative padding, cool Easter Eggs to make up for the fact that Curtis spends most of the film bed-bound and with very little to do – though hey, Laurie Strode is a grandmother who has just survived multiple stab wounds. As much as it pains us to admit, she’s earned a break.
The second chapter of David Gordon Green’s rebooted trilogy serves as a functional and entertaining interlude between its predecessor and the upcoming finale, Halloween Ends. Halloween Kills may be a messy blend of too many elements but, considering its expected audience will be returning fans of the franchise, it offers enough to satisfy cinemagoers looking for an old-school slasher fix: what it lacks in narrative heft and cohesion, the film more than makes up for in its open-armed embrace of blood, tears, and knife-wielding rampages.
Which is good, because there’s amazingly little present-tense storytelling to sustain viewers. Between the narrative redundancies spent catching the rest of the town up on the night’s (read: 2018 Halloween’s) events or reintroducing old characters, and the many flashbacks to 1978, the story’s momentum is generated almost solely by Myers’ rapidly mounting body count (and goddamn, the man does not tire easy).
In all fairness, the flashbacks do make for very enjoyable viewing. Taking place right after the events of John Carpenter and Debra Hill’s Halloween, these scenes detail the events after Myers’ 1978 rampage (remember that, in Green’s canon, Halloween II should be entirely disregarded) in engrossing detail. Unfortunately though, this re-constructed timeline serves little purpose beyond offering up someone to blame for any and all post-’78 killings.
And so it goes for Halloween Kills’ apparent, loftier ambitions: the scenes where Haddonfield enacts its own mob justice are probably intended to make a point about the dangers of hive thinking and fear-based decision making, but it all seems – at best – cursory. In the end, the plot doesn’t really move along, the film’s greater message gets lost, and the characters don’t evolve; what Halloween Kills does offer is a bloody, creatively grisly series of murders, as well as the return of many established franchise characters and generous helpings of fanservice.
In essence, Green’s second instalment is an entertaining, effective block of filler between Halloween and Halloween Ends; fun to enjoy with liberal quantities of sweets one of these cold October nights.
Halloween Kills releases in cinemas from October 15th.