The Movie Waffler New to Netflix - HALLOWEEN KILLS | The Movie Waffler

New to Netflix - HALLOWEEN KILLS

New to Netflix - HALLOWEEN KILLS
Michael Myers survives to cause more trouble in Haddonfield.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: David Gordon Green

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Anthony Michael Hall, Kyle Richards, Nancy Stephens, Charles Cyphers, Jim Cummings

halloween kills poster

When I was a teenager I was one of those annoying geeks who would take every mishandled sequel or remake as a personal slight. I'd corner people at parties to moan about how Eminem and Daft Punk were just lazily sampling classic funk and disco tunes. I was one of those plonkers who always claimed the foreign language original was far superior. At some point I wisely stopped giving a shit about such matters. My favourite pop culture was going to be reduced to coal for late capitalism's furnace and no amount of moaning from me was going to change any of that.

At least, I thought I stopped giving a shit. Then I watched Halloween Kills, the latest sequel to my favourite ever movie, John Carpenter's 1978 masterpiece Halloween. Suddenly I was 17 again, taking this lazy piece of exploitation as a personal affront, as though I had made 1978's Halloween myself rather than just being someone more obsessed with that movie than is probably healthy. But seriously, Halloween Kills is a fucking hate crime. If you're a Halloween fan it's like watching the asshole your mom's dating wink at you as he grabs her ass. "This is mine now," Halloween Kills says to horror fans, "and there's nothing you can do about it."

halloween kills review

I abhor Rob Zombie's Halloween movies, but I'll give him this, at least he had a consistent vision. Two movies in and I have no idea what David Gordon Green is trying to do with the series. Green's Halloween movies somehow feel like pandering fan fiction while at the same time creating the impression Green has never seen Carpenter's original. Halloween Kills is the sequel you make when you haven't watched the original but you have seen its Rifftrax commentary.

Green seems as familiar with Michael Myers as my mom, who was always confusing him with Jason or Leatherface when I was a kid. There's no consistency to the portrayal of Myers here. Discarding all the previous sequels, the 2018 film suggested he was simply a mere mortal, with Jamie Lee Curtis talking about him in interviews as though he was Harvey Weinstein. Green's version of Laurie Strode turned the smart, resourceful teen of Carpenter's film into a gun nut Karen, the type of woman who is probably still "doing her own research" on the COVID-19 vaccine. It's a character progression that made no sense, given how she had witnessed Myers get repeatedly stabbed, take six bullets to the chest, fall off a second floor balcony and still manage to disappear into the night.

Also witness that night were two kids under Laurie's care - Tommy Doyle and Lindsay Wallace. In one of its many botched attempts at fan service, Halloween Kills brings Tommy and Lindsay back. Kyle Richards returns to the role of Lindsay while '80s Brat Packer Anthony Michael Hall takes over as Tommy. Like Laurie, Tommy is a Republican now. When he learns that Michael has survived the inferno at the end of the previous movie (along with his seemingly fireproof overalls), Tommy grabs a baseball bat. Tommy knows full well that Myers was repeatedly stabbed, took six bullets to the chest, fell off a second floor balcony and still managed to disappear into the night, but somehow he thinks a baseball bat will get the job done. Well I guess he's got one up on Lindsay, who in one of the film's dumbest moments, attacks Myers armed only with a bag of candy.

halloween kills review

Both in press interviews and in the heavy-handed script for 2018's Halloween, Jamie Lee Curtis kept telling us the movie was about "trauma." This one is supposedly about how America is a divided nation. In a laughably awful monologue that could have been lifted from Curtis's Twitter timeline, Laurie speaks about Myers as though he's Haddonfield's Donald Trump, this malevolent presence that has turned a community against itself. Problem is, we see no evidence of this being even remotely the case. Literally nobody in Haddonfield is pro-Michael Myers. The entire town turns into the sort of angry mob that belongs in a 1930s Universal Horror movie as soon as they hear that Myers is alive. Aside from Laurie's daughter Karen (Judy Greer, who out of everyone involved here is the one I feel the most sorry for; she really deserves better), every resident of Haddonfield starts foaming at the mouth and shouting the slogan "Evil dies tonight." Even the staff of Haddonfield Memorial Hospital join the mob, running through the hospital corridors like shoppers trying to nab a 75" inch LED on Black Friday. In the movie's most bizarre sequence, the vigilante mob spends a good 20 minutes running up the hospital's stairs, which seem to abide by the same laws of time and space as the infamous runway from that Fast & Furious movie.

Haddonfield Memorial is where Laurie ended up in 1981's Halloween 2. It's ironic that after dissing the previous sequels, Green does the very thing here that detractors of the 1981 movie always cite - he confines Laurie to a hospital bed. Maybe Curtis was getting paid by the hour on this production, as it feels like all her scenes were shot in a single day. Laurie plays no role here, save to make that awful speech at the end that tells us the movie's half-baked "theme" (remember the good old days when horror movies would show us what they were about and thus didn't need to tell us?). The same goes for her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), who the movie appears to set up as its protagonist early on, only to forget about her for most of the narrative.

Flashbacks to the aftermath of Myers' original 1978 night of terror add nothing to the narrative save for some more fan service. We get to see an extra killing in these flashbacks, but characters still refer to Myers killing three rather than four people on that night, which tells you that nobody involved here really gives a toss. Sure lads, it's just a sequel to a dumb little horror movie, isn't it?

halloween kills review

The elephant in the room here is the film's confused representation of Michael Myers, who it can't decide is just an angry white male or a supernatural force. Eventually it does say "fuck it" and pick an option, but before we get to that point we've had to endure two full movies that constantly contradict the Myers lore. I just don't understand how you can even consider the notion that Michael is just a random bloke, as Carpenter's film goes out of its way to show us he's most certainly not.

Similarly, Green can't seem to figure out how he wants us to react to Michael's killing spree. Some kills are played for laughs while others are fashioned like they belong in a Michael Haneke movie, with the camera lingering on the aftermath of death for so long that it seems Green wants us to feel bad about considering this sort of thing entertainment. His 2018 Halloween made me believe Green doesn't understand horror; with this one it seems he doesn't even like the genre. Such grisliness is interspersed with misjudged comedy scenes involving a gay couple (named Big John and Little John, I shit you not) now living in the renovated Myers house.

Carpenter has always been (unfairly) dismissive of his script for 1981's Halloween 2, claiming he wrote it while drunk on beer. What's Green's excuse?

Halloween Kills
 is on Netflix UK/ROI now.