James Jay Edwards

Halloween Kills Relies Too Heavily on Goofy Fan Service

(Halloween Kills, courtesy of Universal Pictures)

James Jay Edwards reviews Halloween Kills, the newest film in the Halloween franchise, directed by David Gordon Green and starring Jamie Lee Curtis. (Universal Pictures

 

The original Halloween is the gold standard of slasher movies. And since the 1978 release of the John Carpenter classic, fans have been both protective and accepting of the movies in the franchise. So, in 2018, when Carpenter not only blessed a direct sequel to the original movie and signed on to do the musical score, fans went nuts. And that nuts translated into enough success for a sequel to that sequel to be made. Enter Halloween Kills.

Like Carpenter’s Halloween II did with the original, Halloween Kills picks up precisely where 2018’s Halloween left off. Psycho killer Michael Myers (stuntman James Jude Courtney tag-teaming the role with the original shape Nick Castle) has been trapped in a burning house by his old babysitter victim Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis reprising the role that made her famous), her daughter Karen (Jawbreaker’s Judy Greer), and granddaughter Ally (666 Park Avenue’s Andy Matichak). But, in a scene that drew controversy before anyone had even seen it, Michael escapes by killing off a battalion of firefighters and, of course, he starts to hunt Laurie again. However, when Laurie’s dear friend Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall from The Dead Zone) finds out that Michael is still alive, he mobilizes the entire town of Haddonfield to do a little Halloween hunting of its own.

 

(Halloween Kills, theatrical release poster, courtesy of Universal Pictures)

With Halloween Kills, writer/director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) and co-writers Danny McBride (Eastbound & Down) and Scott Teems (Rectify) keep the retconning going from the 2018 movie, willfully and freely changing up the Halloween mythology as they go along. Some of this is to keep the viewers on their toes, but mostly it’s just simple fan service. Which is fun, but tedious.

Unsurprisingly, Halloween Kills feels like a sequel. It relies heavily on the audience’s familiarity with the characters, even ones that have been in and out of the franchise for decades. There are tons of easter eggs and nods to earlier films in the series, which only serves to further delight sharp-eyed fans. That’s basically who Halloween Kills is made for—the fans; and seemingly no one else.

 

(Halloween Kills, courtesy of Universal Pictures)

As a horror movie, it’s a little weird. For as deadly serious as the 2018 Halloween was, Halloween Kills is a whimsical film. The odd pacing combined with its torches-and-pitchforks quest for vengeance angle have the whole movie feeling a little hokey, and that strips away most of its effectiveness. It seems to be having a bit too much fun with itself.

At least until it gets to the killing. That’s where it stays deadly serious. Halloween Kills is just as violent and brutal as any of the movies in the Halloween franchise (that includes the visceral Rob Zombie flicks). The kills are disturbing, the gore is plentiful, and the special effects leave little to the imagination. For as playful as the movie is, it does not shy away from its blood and guts.

 

(Halloween Kills, courtesy of Universal Pictures)

Which brings us to the aforementioned fireman scene. It’s probably the most fun scene in the film. Not because of the senseless slaughter of first responders, but because, in defending themselves, the firefighters throw everything they have at Michael. Anything in their trucks is fair game. They brandish axes, saws, even the high-powered firehose itself, and Michael is still able to pick them off, one by one. Sure, firemen are heroes and deserve better, but everyone dies in horror movies, and Michael Myers is a supernatural psychopath. At least these guys go down swinging.

 


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In the overall universe of Halloween movies, Halloween Kills won’t be as reviled as Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (or, until recently, Halloween III: Season of the Witch). But it also won’t be remembered as one of the better entries. And, who knows? Maybe time will be as kind to Halloween Kills as it has been to those other two missteps. But, luckily for David Gordon Green (and the entire franchise), another sequel is already in the works. So, let’s all hope that Halloween Ends is a better sendoff for the legendary franchise than Halloween Kills.

Halloween Kills is in theaters and streaming on the paid tiers of Peacock.

 

 

Check out the podcast Eye On Horror for more with James Jay Edwards, and also features Jonathan Correia and Jacob Davison.

 

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One Comment;

  1. Travis Naught said:

    I am in definite agreement with all of this! It’s weird to me a bit, because the fan service that they provided felt like distraction/detractions from the larger universe. Did not care for the movie, not one little bit. Which is too bad, because I am excited about the next one already… How do I justify this within myself? LOL

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