This spoiler-free review of Halloween Kills will help decide if it’s the right movie for you as you celebrate Halloween this year.
Directed by David Gordon Green, Halloween Kills is the 2nd movie in the Halloween reboot trilogy. The trilogy is made up of Halloween (2018), Halloween Kills (2021) and Halloween Ends, which are coming out next year. These three films are based on the original Halloween released back in 1978. The other films in the Halloween series besides Halloween (1978) are not canon in the new trilogy.
For this review, you may rest easy knowing that we won’t be spoiling anything that hasn’t already been revealed in the promotional material and trailers for Halloween Kills.
Taking place immediately right after Halloween (2018) ends, Halloween Kills reveals that Michael Myers (portrayed by James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle) is still alive. Even if you didn’t watch the prequel and Halloween (1978), the film does reveal what happened prior through character dialogue and flashbacks.
Unfortunately, if you are new to the Halloween series, don’t expect to understand much about Michael Myers. The film doesn’t provide any concrete explanation as to why Michael has superhuman strength and durability, his motive or why is it specifically Halloween night that he goes on his killing spree. You’ll just have to accept it.
Regrettably, even with that in mind, the film’s writing is abysmal. Whereas Halloween (2018) mainly focused on Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her family, Halloween Kills focuses on the citizens of the town of Haddonfield. As you might imagine, there are a lot of people in that town, so the screen time for many characters are divided.
This makes the pacing of the film extremely convoluted. We jump from character to character, location to location at a breakneck pace. Many characters whom we are introduced to die in a matter of minutes, making it hard to connect to anyone. Without a central protagonist whose journey I can follow and empathise with, it’s impossible to immerse myself in the film.
The story doesn’t develop at all. Characters don’t grow or change and everyone who’s still alive is basically the same as they were at the start of the film. There is a subplot involving an asylum escape, but that too has no bearing whatsoever towards the end of the film. I understand that the writers intend for the “town of Haddonfield” to be something of the protagonist who faces off against Michael Myers, but it’s hard to care about a group of people, especially when they start getting killed off, usually by their own dumb mistakes.
While there are comedic moments here and there that did garner a few giggles from the other cinemagoers watching the screening with me, Halloween Kills feels more like a Michael Myers kill compilation video than a film. The movie is obviously violent and gory, but after the first few kills, the gratuitous violence gets boring and repetitive fast. Without anyone or anything to care about, seeing Michael end life after life gets stale, even if you are a fan of slasher films.
Halloween Kills does have aspects of it that I enjoy, as you can read further in this review. However, the plot, which feels nonexistent for me as it goes around in circles showing murder after murder instead of developing towards a certain direction, really sucks out most of the enjoyment. I do enjoy mindless violence, like in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, but without a central protagonist and a direction, in my opinion, Halloween Kills is a 1 hour 45 minute kill compilation video that stops being interesting after the first 15 minutes.
Acting and performance
It’s hard to comment much on the acting when there’s such a large cast of characters with divided screen time. Jamie Lee Curtis really gives off a believable performance as a PTSD-stricken Michael Myers survivor, but she’s so irrelevant in the grand scheme of the movie thanks to the writing.
It’s really unfortunate that the acting was hampered by the poor writing. I feel like the movie is intentionally shooting itself in the foot as it underutilises the strong cast in exchange for more pointless murders. There’s a touching scene where Laurie reconnects with another survivor next to her in the hospital, but it doesn’t add anything to the film. Thanks to Michael’s killing spree, the audience is already fully aware that he needs to be stopped. Telling us something that we already know again and again feels unnecessary.
To that end, I guess that if you’re a fan of the original 1978 Halloween film, you’ll be pleased to see many of the actors who were children and teenagers in the original reprise the same roles in Halloween Kills as adults. It feels believable and genuine, paying homage to the original that started it all. There are also a lot of easter eggs here and there for fans of the franchise.
Visuals and sound
Visually, the film does a pretty solid job. While there isn’t much in terms of cinematography that stood out to me, there were quite a fair bit of scenes that stood out in terms of set design. Michael Myers went all out in creating cheeky art installations of his murder victims and I really enjoyed that.
Lighting was also well done. Even though the film only takes place at night (even the flashbacks take place at night), there were a few scenes that used colourful tones that help to keep the night scenes refreshing to look at. Also, since this is a slasher film with Michael ambushing a lot of his prey, shadows were also utilised well to keep the audience guessing where the boogeyman will pop up next.
In my opinion, the sound design is the most praiseworthy aspect of the film. John Carpenter’s iconic piano tune plays a lot and does a great job in setting the atmosphere whenever Michael appears. I also liked a lot of the sound effects, especially the stabbing. The movie had a great sound effect for knives going cleanly into flesh, even sounding like ASMR at times.
Even though the sound is good, it’s such a small element of the film that is dwarfed by the extremely weak writing. The only thing that the movie has going for it is violence and even then, it gets old and boring fast. While it will be a nostalgia trip for fans of the Halloween films, I really cannot recommend the movie. If my review doesn’t convince you, then I’ll suggest watching a kill compilation of Halloween Kills on YouTube. You won’t be missing out on much.
The film can be summed up in one sentence: Michael Myers wants to kill everyone, everyone wants to kill Michael Myers.
- Good sound design
- Horrible pacing, the plot is all over the place
- Hard to feel invested in anything or anybody
- Violence gets boring and repetitive fast
Feels more like a kill compilation video instead of a film