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Overall Rating
2

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 6.67%
Just Average: 40%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks53.33%

2 reviews, 3 user ratings


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Halloween Kills
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Boo Too"
1 stars

Like so many other film fans, I consider John Carpenter’s 1978 breakthrough hit “Halloween” to be one of the greatest horror movies ever made—a decidedly grim fairy tale about a group of teenagers being stalked by the boogeyman told with such skill, precision and expert manipulation on Carpenter’s part that it still holds the ability to send chills down the spine of viewers, no matter how many times they’ve seen it, more than 40 years after it first appeared. Since that original release, the film has gone on to inspire a cottage industry of sequels and remakes but with the single exception of “Halloween III: Season of the Witch,” the delightfully deranged red-headed stepchild of the franchise that had no real connection with any of the other films and which has gone on to become a cult favorite after angering fans during its initial 1982 release, they have all been pretty awful. Okay, maybe a couple of them—say “Halloween II” (1981) and “Halloween H20” (1998)—have been marginally better than the likes of “Halloween Resurrection” (2002) or the garbage Rob Zombie remakes “Halloween” (2007) and “Halloween II” (2009) but they have all been pretty bad to some degree. In fact, with the possible exception of the “Jaws” films, I cannot readily think of another film franchise—at least one that has remained a viable theatrical prospect over the years—where there has been such a gap in quality between the original film and the various continuations. (Yes, the various “Friday the 13th” sequels have all been pretty shitty but since the original wasn’t a good film by even the loosest definition of the word, the drop in quality wasn’t particularly noticeable.)

And yet, even though the fact that I had seen all of these shitty sequels over the years should have given me pause, I was one of those who was intrigued a few years ago when it was announced that not only would there be a new “Halloween” film after a long period of dormancy to the franchise, it would involve the participation of both Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis, who shot to stardom after starring in the original and would be directed and co-written by David Gordon Green, one of the most exciting cinematic voices of the new century and just the kind of offbeat talent who could potentially revitalize a franchise that had creatively flatlined years before he even began making movies. Not only that, he was going to combat one of the biggest problems facing the series—a backstory that had gotten so convoluted that it had become the cinematic equivalent of the novelty song “I’m My Own Grandpa”—by simply ignoring all of the sequels and developments that had come before it—even the disastrous revelation in “Halloween II” that killer Michael Myers and prime target Laurie Strode were actually secret siblings—and positioning it as a direct continuation of the original film. This meant that not only was the subsequent film, “Halloween” (2018) the third film in the franchise to use that particular title, it was also the third in the franchise that could have also utilized the title “Halloween II.” Unfortunately, that proved to be the most interesting aspect of the film, which turned out to be a scare-free gorefest that played more like hackneyed fan fiction than anything else and which also wasted its one undeniable asset—the still-formidable presence of Curtis in her most iconic role—so thoroughly that some viewers may have found themselves checking their watches and wondering what could possibly be keeping that Man in Black from turning up.

As dreadful as that film was, it made a ton of money and so it was soon announced that Green would be directing not one, but two followups that would continue his narrative and which would all unfold over the course of the 40th anniversary of the original’s murder spree as Michael returns to his hometown of Haddonfield to wreak further havoc and to do battle once again with Laurie, who has gone into survivalist mode in order to prepare for what she feels is Michael’s inevitable return, much to the chagrin of her estranged daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) Needless to say, I approached the first of these two films, “Halloween Kills,” with far more reduced expectations than I did its predecessor but even so, I was still frankly shocked by the sheer crumminess on display. While I cannot say that it is the worst “Halloween” film in a world where the Rob Zombie versions are allowed to exist but an excellent case could be made that this utterly pointless exercise in tedium is the worst of the ones featuring Curtis and yes, that includes the one that featured a scene in which Michael got punched in the face by Busta Rhymes.

The film begins right where the last one left off, with Karen, Allyson and a gravely wounded Laurie, having trapped Michael in the basement of Laurie’s burning compound, rushing off to the hospital. In a surprise move, Michael proves to be more resilient than most 60-ish serial killers and not only escapes his flaming fate but messily dispatches a group of responding firemen at the same time. While this is going on, four other survivors of the original 1978 killing spree—former school bully Lonnie (Robert Longstreet), nurse Marion (Nancy Stephens) and the now-grown kids Laurie was babysitting that night, Lindsay Wallace (Kyle Richards) and Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall)—are having their annual reunion, their way of processing their respective traumas, at a local bar when word gets out that Michael is back and bodies are beginning to pile up. Tommy, who has already interrupted the bar’s talent show to tell his tale, decides it is time to face his greatest fear head on and gathers together an ever-growing mob to hunt Michael down and kill him once and for all.

While the mob takes to the streets chanting “Evil dies tonight!,” Laurie is back at the hospital recovering from her wounds and listening to the grievously wounded veteran cop Officer Hawkins (Will Patton) recount his own shameful encounter with Michael all those years ago (one that involves further ineffective retconning of the remaining established backstory). Eventually, the mob makes its way to the hospital and when they spot someone that they are convinced is Michael, they give chase but discover too late that the poor sap isn’t the guy. Meanwhile, the real Michael is still wandering the streets and butchering pretty much everyone who gets into his path in ways that significantly up both the brutality and the body count of the previous installment, both of which were already fairly significant to begin with in the first place.

While watching “Halloween Kills” plod along from one dull slaughter scene to the next, one question kept popping up in my head: Why go through all the bother of eliminating all traces of those pesky sequels if you are just going to go and make the exact same mistakes that they did. In the original “Halloween II” (and that may be the most dispiriting opening to a sentence that I have ever written), the notion of making Michael and Laurie brother and sister might have been the single stupidest thing that co-writers Carpenter and Debra Hill came up with but a close second would be to take the fresh and exciting Laurie character and sideline her for virtually the entire running time in a hospital bed as she tries to recover from her injuries. Astoundingly, Green and his co-writers Scott Teems and Danny McBride do the same thing again and the end result is the same—it reduces the most interesting character to the level of a supporting player and while Curtis is still a commanding presence, she hardly gets a chance to demonstrate it. At least her hair looks better this time than the infamously awful wig that she wore in “Halloween II.”

So what do we get instead of her? Lots of scenes that introduce new characters—often via self-consciously quirky moments that feel more like weird indulgences on Green’s part than anything else (while some characters in the original “Halloween” passed the night by watching the original “The Thing from Another World” on television, the televised movie viewed by a couple of soon-to-be-victims is John Cassavetes’s “Minnie and Moskowitz,” a move that even Ray Carney might find to be a bit much—only to have Michael slash them up in various gruesome ways. Since Green has given us no particular reason to care about any of these characters, their deaths have no emotional impact and since the murder scenes have been slapped together with a complete lack of suspense or tension, they are not even remotely scary either. To make things worse, the screenplay requires that just about everyone—even those who clearly know who Michael is and what he is capable of doing—in it behave like idiots in order to set up their deaths that make the future corpses of the “Friday the 13th “ films look like geniuses by comparison. While all the mindless mayhem is ensuing, Green adds in some heavy-handed messaging about the corrosive effects of fear on the psyche—which might have been interesting is he had anything interesting to say about the subject—and tries to offer some equally clumsy social commentary by suggesting that Michael’s ultimate trick was to turn the citizens of Haddonfield against each other by pushing them into their own frenzy of bloodlust. In case this aspect is too subtle, the film even has a character remark “Now he’s turning us into monsters.”

Of course, even if Green and co. had managed to figure out a way to make all of the aforementioned stuff work, “Halloween Kills” still would have had to face its other major problem—since this film was long ago announced as the first of two parts, that means that everything that we are seeing is basically narrative wheel-spinning meant to kill time and fatten coffers before next year’s conclusion, “Halloween Ends,” in which nothing of real import is likely to happen along the way. In fact, other than the obvious financial reasons, one could have taken the only vague important stuff on display here—the Laurie stuff and the vigilante mob—and covered it in the next film in about 15 minutes while jettisoning the rest without anyone being the wiser. Of course, if being the wiser had anything to do with the “Halloween” films at this point, “Halloween Kills” most likely wouldn’t have been a thing in the first place.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=32166&reviewer=389
originally posted: 10/17/21 20:30:58
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2021 Venice Film Festival For more in the 2021 Venice Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/20/21 Brock Shipley A fantastic and effective entry in the series. 4 stars
10/19/21 wistful Just horrible. 1 stars
10/15/21 morris campbell boring no thrills in halloween kills skip it 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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  15-Oct-2021

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  15-Oct-2021




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