The second installment in this sequel/reboot is mindlessly stalling for the finale
Horror franchises just don’t know when to stop. Since many have such small budgets, to have a profitable film is relatively easy. Yet with the incredibly financial hit that the third reboot of the Halloween franchise was in 2018 ($255 million worldwide on a $10 million budget), it was inevitable that the same unoriginal and interminable sequels be spun out from the enjoyable retooling.
Halloween: Kills (2021) picks up right where Halloween (2018) left off. Michael Meyers (James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle) is trapped in Laurie Strode’s (Jamie Lee Curtis) burning house. However, with the help of some clumsy firemen, Michael escapes and goes on a killing rampage yet again.
David Gordon Green returns to the director’s chair after his relative success in the reboot three years ago, and much of the writing team returns as well, including Danny McBride. The creative team manage to retain some of the quality in their storytelling, from the reliable use of camerawork and direction to the half-decent dialogue. This is still volumes ahead of what Halloween films have accustomed us to in the past and thus longtime viewers will likely appreciate it. The main problem with Halloween Kills, however, is that is simply has nothing to say and nowhere to go with its characters.
The lack of clear narrative direction is incredibly apparent with how desperately Gordon Green tries to pause and elongate the film’s runtime. We get flashbacks to the 1978 original bloody night, some interminable scenes of Laurie pondering in the hospital, and wandering mobs who look for Michael unsuccessfully. This slow pace and increased time setting up victims does pay off sometimes, however. By having soon-to-be-dead characters take on a different dimension of humanity with longer scenes, this transcends their usual consideration as slabs of meat as they are portrayed as in the typical slasher and makes their deaths sadder to witness. However, the rest of these long scenes’ utility serve no other purpose than to bore the audience.
While I appreciated a change of pace from the relentless and desensitizing violence of past Halloween movies, Halloween Kills seems to forget it’s supposed to be a horror movie at all. Gordon Green becomes sidetracked in showcasing the dangers of a mob mentality and the reminiscence of Laurie and characters from past Halloween movies to pay much attention to forming a new narrative in this film. Many fans will also be disappointed that Laurie is hardly in this film at all, robbing viewers of their deserved dose of Jamie Lee Curtis.
In the end, Halloween Kills seems to follow along the path of past Halloween patterns, of milking a half-decent film to death in sequels. Gordon Green is able to bring about certain competence to the look and feel of the film, but the ensuing narrative is hopelessly lost, desperately searching for the elements that might eventually define it as a feature film. Hollywood needs to learn to move on from Michael Meyers.