HALLOWEEN KILLS – review

HALLOWEEN KILLS – review

            Now that this is finally out, and the fans are seething, and the pundits are posting their bile can we just take a moment to appreciate what Rob Zombie was able to do? He took a dead franchise and gave it life. It wasn’t the life we were expecting, and for some it wasn’t the life they wanted, but he resurrected a dead, dead, dead franchise and made it dangerous again. I still standby the fact that H2 is a movie for no one, a move he made as a – sure, I’ll make your effin’ sequel, here – response to all the criticism and bile he got from the first one. The thing is though that those two movies work as a whole. Two movies. One story.

Not perfect.

Not the HALLOWEEN we were looking for, but a unique beast all its own.

And that’s why I love them.

Just as I love these new iterations in the franchise.

Do something different.

I am not going to be precious about a series that went as far off the rails as this one did. H5 was awful. H6 is only good as a Producer’s Cut. H8 is a clown show.

The thing about this franchise fans seem to forget is that John Carpenter didn’t even want it to continue past the first one. He moved on.

We didn’t.

We’re the obsessive ones.

Jamie Lee Curtis even came back before to try to put the nail in this part of her career and we wouldn’t let her leave.

So here we are.

Fans are too precious with their franchises and loves. These are, in the end, movies. These are product to be sold and consumed. That doesn’t mean they aren’t art, or that some cannot transcend the form but, in the end, there’s a reason for sequels and it’s that we like them. We like the familiarity. We like the predictability. We like the throughline of characters and villains. We like all of that and more. So, when more and more sequels are made, along with remakes and revisions and prequels and the rest we can’t get too upset because it’s our faults.

If we don’t like this stuff, and don’t clamor for so much of it these wouldn’t get made.
The trouble is that the studios rarely care about how these are made, just that they are made quick, cheap, and with a big return.

So, to see that Blumhouse is trying to pay service to fans with these new HALLOWEEN films is admirable. It’s not always wise, but it is admirable. It honors the past while carving out a new niche in the present.

            I really enjoyed the first new sequel HALLOWEEN. It’s a lean, mean machine. It has some hiccups, and some moments that work better than others but it’s a solid movie with a fantastic finale. Wow, what an ending. It isn’t perfect though and, if we’re honest, it wasn’t needed.

The original was SO scary and effective because it made the boogeyman real. In the end we were left asking if he was a man or more than a man. We were left with the monster still loose out there, somewhere.

It wasn’t meant as a backdoor to a sequel, it was meant as a final statement of horror, when such a thing still mattered.

Now though, now everything is set up for a franchise.

Oh, those were simpler times.

As much ire as some may have with these new entries into the pantheon of movies under the HALLOWEEN banner, these were given the blessing of Carpenter and he is involved in them in various ways. He’s a smart man. He wants the money, but he also knows that they are going to make them with or without him so at least in this way he has a small matter of say in the proceedings and gets to get paid making music, a return to a lifelong passion and one he is getting paid for doing. Heck, if you can say one thing about the two new ‘ween movies it’s that we are getting some fantastic Carpenter music out of the deal.

Not too shabby.

To go back though, remember kiddies, Uncle John gave his blessing and input into these movies, so if you’re gonna get in your mads, spread it around to him too.

            HALLOWEEN KILLS is a bit of a mess, let’s be real honest right up front. It’s a gory, mean, dopey mess. It has the misfortune of being the bridge in a trilogy, the film that has to push the first film forward while calling back to it and yet building the architecture for the wrap-up. Backward and forward. Middle films are rarely great. Some are, sure, but not many. This one ain’t great.

The film picks up right after the end of the last film with Laurie Strode’s compound on fire, she and her daughter and granddaughter adiosing the scene, and Michael left to fry like a fritter. Alas, someone called the fire department, something Laurie is none too pleased to see. On the way to this revelation though we are taken on a detour to remind us of the granddaughter’s lout of a boyfriend and one of the previous film’s main characters that we thought was dead. THIS leads to some amazing flashbacks of how they captured Michael. This is honestly the strongest stuff in the film. The reverence for the original and the way they did it looks amazing. From Michael himself, in the old gear and mask, to a return of a super convincing Loomis, this is great and the strongest stuff in the film. HECK, it made me wish for a prequel, if I am honest.

The film does this bouncing back and forth throughout the entirety and it helps and hinders the film. It’s cool because we see some really interesting takes on how Michael ended up in custody and how that night ended. It also reminds us that boy are they stacking this new film with a lot of characters from the original. You get the feeling that if they could they’d resurrect a dead teen or two just to further stress that THIS IS PART OF THE CANON NOW!
OK, we got it.

Sheesh.

This isn’t to say that the film is bad or boring, so don’t get that in your head because it’s neither of those things.

Once Michael gets up and running, phew, he is on a tear.

We haven’t seen him this brutal since Zombie’s movies, so there ya go, you kids get your blood and your violence as you seem to like. Not me, no sir. I like my serial killing madmen to be a little vague and leave something to the imagination.

Seduce me with that decapitation, don’t push it in my face, ya know?

With Michael on the loose and Laurie bedridden after surgery, we’re left wondering wait, who the heck is this movie about, anyway?

THE PEOPLE!
It’s about the people!

And it is, actually. This film does something I don’t think many expected and it’s to take Laurie out of the equation to a large degree (she’s in it so don’t get in a fit, Francis) so that we can see how the trauma of Michael was about more than just here. We get this in the other films but not in this way. Not to this extent (shut up about part 4, OK?). This is about the boogeyman coming back to a town he’d terrorized and doing it again. The police aren’t stopping him so, lead by an awkwardly cast Anthony Michael Hall as Tommy Doyle, the people decide to take matters into their own hands.

They want blood.

This is the weakest part of the film (though not by much), by far, as it overplays its hand. I love the idea of a town, so held in the grip of past trauma that they are a little mad, but it gets messy and over the top once they descend on the hospital, thinking he’ll go there for Laurie. Hall is chewing scenery like it’s Taco Tuesday and he’s famished. FAMISHED! My man has TRAUMA. Big trauma. Its his madness that infects everyone else’s and leads them to act like an insane mob. There is a fun callback to JAWS in all of it, with the fishermen taking to the seas to catch the shark then, on catching the WRONG shark, insist it’s really the man-eater when Dreyfuss knows they are wrong. That is here in spades, and we start to see how Laurie’s madness has started to spread. She’s a sort of folk here around Halloween, the woman who survived and fought the boogeyman. The rest of the year she’s the town kook but at Halloween, she’s legend.

There is a lot of mirroring going on with this section, of the desire for punishment of those who commit traumas and get away with it. To the madness of the anti-masks, who refuse to hear reason or fact. It’s all a lot to take in and it weighs the film down. There’s intensity here but there’s also mess.

And BOY do we get messy in this film.
Along the way we meet a gay couple that happens to own the Myers home and it all plays way too much like something from a movie from an earlier, far more ignorant time when couples like this were used as comedy relief. OH, look at the funny gays, aren’t they DIFFERENT than us but yet, the same.

It comes off as gross.

I don’t think they meant it to, but the two actors are not given much to work with and they do the best they can.

Even down to their names, Big John and Little John, it’s awkward.

There’s one funny gag they pull on some lousy kids, but it isn’t followed through.

What would have worked better is to have them as having rented the home from someone like an Air B’n’B for the holiday. Or have them as out of towners using the house as a way to make money with a home haunt. Something to give them more to work with and to show why we care that this is the Myers house, other than saying – Oooo, this is the Myers house.

Yeah, it is.

And…

This is the other super awkward section that really undermines what is an otherwise fun and mean slasher. This iteration of Michael is no joke, and he is a man on a mission.

Whatever that is.

We get a lot of Michael mowing through people in various awful ways and for various reasons we can’t reckon, all leading towards a revelation as to where he is heading.

There is a lot of build up that never pays off but, again, we have to remember that this is the second film in a trilogy, and we are heading somewhere.

We just have to hope they know where they are going.

As the film wraps up, we are given a great climax that is undercut by a HA, FOOLED YA second ending that has power but feels muted and hurried.

The whole ending feels too hurried, to be honest.

It stinks because Laurie gives a powerful monologue that I want to revisit in another viewing. It has a lot to say about her, her journey, and what’s to come, and it’s lost a little in the chaos of the end.

Despite what it may seem, I dug the film.

I was a little disappointed for a movie I was really looking forward to but I also don’t think it helped that SO many were negative about it before I even got a chance to see it. When judged against the rest of the series, it’s a decent entry. Not great, but good and a solid film. It’s messy, many of the characters are done with broad strokes, but man there are some great moments here. Some really great moments.

I doubt we’ll get the resolution we all want in the end; I mean, they’ll keep making these as long as they make money, but I hope that THIS Michael and Laurie get their ending.

I think they will.

I have thoughts on it, but yeah, I think they will.

I wish Jamie Lee Curtis was in this more, but she isn’t, and she doesn’t need to be because it’s not necessarily about her. It’s about Michael and the town. It’s their story. Not hers.

We’ll get back to her.

The women in this film though, phew, great stuff.

Really great stuff.

And Michael is fantastic.

There is a lot to unpack here, a lot, but that’s what horror should be – movies you want to talk about. Good or ill. Just let us have our own opinion without your need to THAT IS STUPIDing us.

OK?

Good?

It’s worth a look.
It’s a fun, mean machine that just keeps pushing forward at all costs.

It’s a worthy entry.

It’s just got that awkward teen thing going on and we just have to hope that it’s a beautifully horrible adult when Halloween finally ‘ends’ finally DIES TONIGHT!

3.5 out of 5

I write books. Go buy one in my bookstore.

https://spookychris.com/haunted-bookstore/

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