“Halloween Kills” movie review

Michael Tracey, General Assignment Reporter

In 2018, director David Gordon Green took a stab at rebooting the popular horror franchise “Halloween.” His first film of a planned trilogy and the return of the iconic babysitter Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis herself, was a smash hit at the box office.

Fast forward three years, and a pandemic later, “Halloween Kills” makes its debut right in time for the holiday. So does Green manage to catch magic in a bottle twice with the subsequent return of masked killer Michael Myers?

“Halloween Kills” takes place immediately after the events of 2018’s “Halloween.” It doesn’t take long before a furious Michael Myers escapes from an inferno after being trapped in a basement by an aged Laurie Strode, her daughter, and granddaughter.

The first act builds up the momentum immediately and sets Michael Myers on a destructive path without holding back on its display of bloody violence. But, of course, the audience knows his intentions, and once some of the residents of Haddonfield, Illinois, are aware of his escape, they buckle down for another fateful night.

 Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode in “Halloween Kills.” Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

After the first thirty minutes of “Halloween Kills,” it’s apparent the primary focus is on the town of Haddonfield itself, instead of the Strode family. I think the decision to shift the attention away from Laurie and her family was a tremendous mistake by Green and the writers. 

Sure, after 40 years of fearing Michael Myers and dealing with trauma from the gruesome murders that occured in 1978, it makes sense to see a town wanting to fight back. But for most fans, the return of the original Laurie Strode was one of the best reasons for the franchise’s return.  

Following the physical pain she endured by fighting Michael, Green and the writers decided to sideline Laurie to a hospital bed with minimal screen time. Unfortunately, this decision ultimately hurts “Halloween Kills” because it disconnects the audience from her character for the sake of the story to set up the third film.

Instead, it focuses the audiences’ attention on a vigilante mob led by Tommy Doyle, played by Anthony Michael Hall. Tommy is an average suburban guy still healing from the horrific events in the original film where his babysitter, Laurie, protected him from their first encounter with Michael Myers. 

Armed with a wooden baseball bat and sweat on his brow, he chants, “Evil dies tonight!” It’s a cheesy one-liner to motivate an angry mob and a questionable tagline for a film that already has a planned sequel on the way. The form of vigilante justice is a dish served cold in “Halloween Kills,” and the outcome in its finale is as lazy and uninspired as it gets.

 Cameron (Dylan Arnold) looks into the eyes of Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney). Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Overall, the film is a mess, and the latest Michael Myers killing spree earns its spot as a filler in the rebooted trilogy, nothing more, nothing less. There’s no emotional weight felt even in its last moments where the story intends to come full circle. It also misses the mark as a horror film because none of the scenes with Michael were suspenseful enough to terrify audiences.

Despite bad reception and streaming on Peacock, “Halloween Kills” has also done well at the box office. The film cost $20 million to produce and grossed over $50 million domestically in its first weekend, validating that the third and final entry is inevitable. 

Let’s hope Green and company can turn it around for unsatisfied horror and “Halloween” fans when the final chapter, “Halloween Ends,” releases next year.

“Halloween Kills” was released on October 15, 2021, in theaters and streaming on Peacock.

Rating: 1 out of 5 Spinnaker Sails.