John Carpenter's 1978 original Halloween is quite an experience. It's scary and shocking, but also exciting and fun, like being lost in a haunted house at the amusement park. And you are rooting for the young, innocent babysitter to survive the assault from "The Boogeyman." The new film in the series is Halloween Kills, which is the second film in a trilogy that is supposed to be a direct sequel to the 1978 original, erasing all the sequels in between, so Laurie Strode doesn't die twice, and there is no link to the druids or even Busta Rhymes. Halloween Kills, however, is a dour, mean-spirited movie that is all about the graphic kills and nothing more.
When we last saw serial killer Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney) in 2018's Halloween, he was trapped in a house set ablaze by Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). Halloween Kills opens with a wounded Laurie being rushed to a hospital as firemen fight the fire and inadvertently free Myers so he can kill again. When news spreads that Myers is on the loose again, Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall), a childhood survivor of "The Shape's" 1978 Halloween night carnage, puts together a mob to hunt down and murder the seemingly unstoppable killer once and for all.
Like the 2018 film, Halloween Kills is directed by the once talented David Gordon Green and co-written by Danny McBride. I give them some credit for attempting subplots, but a side story of a deputy wracked with guilt about events from 1978, as well as social commentary about mob justice, are both poorly handled. They feel like throw away ideas just to separate the kill scenes. The filmmakers couldn't decide if they wanted us to be for or against the mob.
Curtis, the star of the film, is hardly in it. She is sidelined to a hospital bed and likely shot all of her scenes in just a few days. Then there are the returning cast members from the original film—Kyle Richards as Lindsey, Nancy Stephens as Marion Chambers, and Charles Cyphers as Leigh Brackett—as well as returning characters now played by different actors, like Hall. Most of them are only here to die violently.
As for the kills, some come off as just cruel. Yes, I know this is a horror movie, but there is an ugliness to Halloween Kills, like when Myers plunges knife after knife into a dead man as his dying wife watches or the hospital riot scene when a mother inadvertently sees her dead, mutilated son on a slab.
In this movie, Myers may have killed more people than Cecil B. DeMille. It's a ridiculously huge body count. So, he's no longer "The Shape" or "The Boogeyman," but rather an offshoot of Arnold Schwarzenegger from Commando or something like that. One thing is for sure—he bears no resemblance to anything from the classic original film.
Halloween Kills is in theaters now, and is also available to stream on Peacock Premium.
* ½ (out of four)