‘Halloween Kills’ brings the thrills
Halloween Kills is, for better or worse, the middle film in a three-part trilogy. To make things even more interesting, it’s the middle film of a three-part trilogy in a 12-film franchise. Suffice it to say, there’s a lot going on here.
HALLOWEEN KILLS ★★★★ (4/5 stars)
Directed by: David Gordon Green
Written by: John Carpente, Debra Hill,Scott Teems
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Anthony Michael Hall
Running time: 106 mins
Halloween Kills picks up precisely where the last film ends. How precisely? Oscar’s corpse is still impaled on the fence, and the Strode women (Laurie, Karen, and Alyson) are en route to the hospital. Cameron is wandering home dejectedly from the dance when he happens upon one of Michael’s victims. Director David Gordon Green is clearly going to link the three films are clearly going to be closely linked, though rumors have it that the third will take place a couple of years after the action of the first two. But the plot isn’t the only thing linking the films to Halloween lore. Halloween enthusiasts will love the vast and varied connections to prior films that pop up almost as frequently as the Shape himself.
Original characters from Halloween (1978) are back, and this time with vengeance. Lonnie Elam has stopped bullying Tommy Doyle after his own encounter with the boogeyman way back when. The two are now close pals, and they reunite every Halloween along with Marion (Loomis’ former nurse), and the other former sitting charge, Lindsey. Also stopping by are Officers Dawkins and Brackett, for old times sake.
It’s technically a spoiler to let you know Michael is still alive, but is it? Watching any combination of previous Halloween films should have clued you in to the fact that he’s very hard to kill. While this does call into question his many years in confinement (how could anyone contain him, after all?) it should come as no surprise that the satisfying burn it all down ending of Halloween (2018) quickly comes apart within the first act of Halloween Kills. Michael gets out of the burning basement, murdering a team of first responders along the way.
Laurie is doped up in the hospital and under the impression Michael is dead. Karen is initially afraid to disabuse her of this notion, but it quickly grows out of her control as Michael commits enough murders and assaults to flood the ER. This is where the real fun begins. Led by Tommy Doyle, a crowd of townspeople have decided that enough is enough. They’re taking on Michael, and he’s going down. Tonight.
While both started their careers as fresh-faced teens in successful films, Jamie Lee Curtis and Anthony Michael Hall are now playing characters who look like they’re competing over who can be the most grizzled (it’s Laurie). It’s clear from their faces, their affect, and the lighting that these two have BEEN THROUGH IT. They’re exhausted from years of intense fear and trauma.
Ignoring Karen’s warnings, Laurie shoots herself full of morphine and heads to the hallways. They’re convinced Michael is coming to the hospital to defeat Laurie, and Tommy has whipped a shoving-room only crowd into a frenzy. Unfortunately, what follows is more tragic than triumphant. The battle isn’t over.
As the second film in a trilogy, this movie is never going to be a standalone classic. As a trilogy, though, it has potential to be excellent. Curtis once said that she ended up doing Halloween: H20 for the paycheck. I think she did this movie for the paycheck and the story.
Despite the lengthy exposition and lack of resolution (sure to come in Halloween Ends), horror fans will absolutely enjoy the direction the film is going, and there are some truly excellent characters and a few moments of much-needed levity (two married Johns refer to one another as Big John and Little John, to great comedic effect, for example). This film did the hard work of continuing the story from Halloween 2018, while setting up enough crumbs of intrigue to keep fans on the hook for the next movie.
After all, Michael is shot, stabbed, beaten, stomped, and still–he keeps coming.