‘Halloween Kills’ Movie Review: Michael Myers’ Middling Middle Chapter
The Halloween franchise never followed a strict continuity. Sequels H20 and Resurrection ignored parts 4-6. 2018’s Halloween ignored all of them except the original. Now, Halloween Kills is the sequel to that, but it does incorporate 1981’s Halloween II. With a third film, Halloween Ends, on the way, Kills already feels like a middle chapter, and unfortunately doesn’t do much to make itself feel like a complete Michael Myers horror story.
When does ‘Halloween Kills’ take place?
Considering the trailer began with the direct aftermath of 2018’s Halloween, you might be surprised how long it takes Halloween Kills to catch up to that point. It begins in 1978, establishing young officer Hawkins (Thomas Mann) and Lonnie (Tristian Eggerling). Then it introduces survivors of the original 1978 Halloween: Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall), Lindsey Wallace (Kyle Richards) and Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens).
Only then does Halloween Kills pick up with Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) driving away from the firetrap they set for Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney) at the end of the previous movie. When Michael escapes the fire, Tommy leads a mob to kill him while Laurie, Allyson and Karen suspect he’s coming to the hospital to finish the job.
‘Halloween Kills’ sidelines the women
With all that going on, Halloween Kills unfortunately sidelines the most important characters. For the third time in the franchise, Laurie Strode waits in a hospital. There are some real missed opportunities in her storyline, too. At first, she thinks she’s succeeded in killing Michael Myers. When the inevitable happens and she has to face the news that she didn’t finish the job, there would be potential for great drama, which Curtis would be more than capable of playing. Unfortunately, she spends little time on the revelation and goes back to business making a new plan, but doesn’t get out of the hospital.
Even more egregiously, Allyson is totally sidelined. It might be forgivable if Laurie’s story gives way to the new generation of final girl, but it doesn’t. Allyson decides to join the mob and then disappears for most of the movie. Tommy is the only character with a complete arc. The others are left hanging.
Tommy’s story is interesting, but for a franchise built on female survivors to spend the bulk of its time on a dude seems wrong. Tommy was a boy Laurie was babysitting in 1978 (played by a different actor in the original movie). As an adult, he spends most of this movie talking real tough and giving a lot of rallying speeches. Hall is convincing as an unhinged survivor, but it’s also a lot of stalling.
Michael Myers murders aren’t the deadliest part of the movie
Tommy’s story is also what makes Halloween Kills mostly a bummer. 2018’s Halloween was triumphant, which may seem odd to say about a horror movie, but these are about survivors ultimately. The chaos that results from Tommy’s mob is palpable, with characters trampling each other. The film is not wrong about the nature of people driven to violence, but it’s still depressing. That also likens Halloween Kills to middle chapters like The Empire Strikes Back, but Halloween Kills is no Empire Strikes Back.
There are some great moments throughout this exploration of Michael Myers victims and survivors. The film takes its time stalling, but when Myers gets going, he’s unrelenting. That goes for both modern day scenes and 1978 flashbacks, which blend seamlessly with the two films set in 1978.
There is potential in the characters bonding over shared trauma. Tommy, Lindsey and Marion both lived through Myers attacks. Other characters grew up in a town living with this legacy for 40 years. Unfortunately, this never really goes anywhere and the returning characters usurp all the new characters introduced in the 2018 movie.
‘Halloween Kills’ is unfinished
There are some questionable moments, too. The trio of kids who have never heard of Michael Myers is completely absurd. No matter how young they are, they live in Haddonfield, Illinois. Everybody in Haddonfield has heard about Michael Myers. In the last movie the young characters even knew about the ‘80s and ‘90s sequels because they dismissed them as rumors.
There are also two characters who stay home while the rest of the town is out looking for Michael Myers. These grown adult men still go to check noises at the door by themselves, when they know for a fact Michael Myers is on the loose. Bad decisions may be the stock and trade of horror movies, but these guys are just asking for it.
Halloween Kills also feels like Back to the Future Part II, The Matrix Reloaded and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Whenever they make a second and third film together (in this case at least having written or outlined Halloween Ends), the middle chapter never has a real ending. Some of the unorthodox choices in Halloween Kills might have worked if they’d reached a conclusion. No matter how good Halloween Ends may be, it can’t retroactively make Halloween Kills feel like a complete movie.