Halloween Kills (2021, David Gordon Green)

Halloween Kills is a fascinating sequel. It’s a terrible movie—though probably better than the previous one just because there’s so much less Jamie Lee Curtis, so you’re not watching her embarrass herself the entire time (though she’s got some really embarrassing moments). But given it’s the ninth Halloween sequel and the second remake of Halloween II… a lot is going on in what the filmmakers do and don’t do. And if you’ve suffered through the other twelve movies or whatever… as a viewer, you too can see the creative choices in context.

So fascinating.

And terrible.

It’s so bad. At least the first forty-five minutes are a gory, cruel, humor-drained riff on a fan service sequel. Then, after establishing Will Patton didn’t die last time and then flashing back to the original Halloween and doing a non-Halloween II sequel in flashback—how they missed a Curtis in the hospital joke is beyond me, but I’m not sure I’d feel good if I felt simpatico with Kills’s makers—the movie brings back supporting cast from the first movie. Not Halloween H40 first movie—we’ve established everyone’s back already—but Halloween 1978 first movie. Nurse Nancy Stephens is back, plus little kid grown up Kyle Richards. Anthony Michael Hall appears as the other little kid grown up, as does Robert Longstreet, but Longstreet’s so indistinct it seems like a retcon. Because Halloween movies need retcons in 2021.

Charles Cyphers is also back, but later in the movie and entirely coincidentally—fatefully? Also returning are Michael Smallwood and Carmela McNeal as the disposable Black couple. They were in the last movie but apparently not memorably enough. And Dylan Arnold as Andi Matichak’s boyfriend (and Longstreet’s son). This Halloween is the one where we get the Elm Street parents going after Freddy, basically. Though not emphasizing the teenagers in danger because… well, why do teenagers when you can do stunt cameos and then little kids. Though the little kids in danger stuff turns out to be a Season of the Witch: Halloween 3 reference, which is kind of the only thing actually cool in the movie. Like, they do a solid job working it in.

Oh, and there’s also some good gore animatronics. Kills’s Michael Myers is cruel and gross, basically doing anatomy experiments, and there are occasionally good gore animatronics. The rest of the time, it’s just gross for gross’s sake, but they do an actual fine job at least twice.

Some of John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel A. Davies’s score is good. Mainly in the first forty-five when it’s the not-funny spoof of itself. During those moments, it seems like making a good Halloween escaped director Gordon Green and his co-writers, Scott Teems and Danny McBride, with them knowingly avoiding past tropes only for it to fail.

It’ll turn out Gordon Green, Teems, and McBride have some big ideas to work out in the second half of the movie, so no, it was just them killing time before their “unjust, lawless mob” plotline, which isn’t the movie but also is the movie. It’s this movie; it’s just this movie is actually only set up for the next movie. Not doing a “Michael Myers Will Return in HALLOWEEN ENDS” is actually the filmmakers’ worst move, and they don’t make a single good one. They just don’t let the film acknowledge itself because they’re pretending it’s serious. And we get to see how Gordon Green does serious with Halloween, and it stinks. It’s embarrassing and silly, and you can tell they tried real hard.

Anyway.

Lots of bad and middling performances. Judy Greer looks really underwhelmed her sequel option got picked up. Curtis and Patton, who bond in their own Halloween II pseudo-remake, are bad. Hall’s not good, but it’s also a lousy part. The supporting cast ranges. Occasionally there will be some effective slasher sequences, possibly thanks to Timothy Alverson.

It’s hard to tell if anything’s good about Kills, production-wise, because Gordon Green makes an absurd choice every thirty seconds, and it distracts, but Alverson’s editing seems good, actually. Whereas Michael Simmonds’s photography is just not incompetent. Also not sure about Richard A. Wright’s production design. Is it terrible, or is it bad at making South Carolina look like Illinois, or is it referencing the Rob Zombie redneck Halloween remakes? Or is it all three?

Again, it’s a fascinating sequel.

Shitty movie, though. Just an utterly shitty movie.

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