*. I’ve said before on at least a couple of occasions that the Halloween movies constitute perhaps the most chaotic (read: incoherent) horror franchise in scary-movie history. Halloween Kills took me a bit further, making me wonder if any franchise has so underwhelmed as the Halloween pictures, of which this would be the 12th . . . and not the last.
*. It’s a franchise without real highlights, aside from John Carpenter’s original. Halloween III: Season of the Witch was an interesting new direction, but one which turned into an immediate dead end. Hallowen H20: Twenty Years Later showed signs of life. Checking out my notes on the 2018 reboot directed by David Gordon Green I seem to have liked it as well, though less than critics and fans did. Still, it had enough going for it to hold out some promise for the next two chapters in Green’s trilogy.
*. Halloween Kills quickly put paid to any such hopes, no matter how low they might have been. I’m honestly a bit impressed at just how lackluster and disappointing it is. I can’t say they weren’t trying, because I think the people involved really believed in the project. A lot of work was put into things like rebuilding the original Michael Myers house and front yard all on a studio set, and recreating his iconic mask down to the last wrinkle. The cast of veterans — and by that I mean Halloween franchise veterans — all seem game. But boy does Green, who also co-wrote the script, let them down.
*. So basically Michael didn’t die in the fiery basement that Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) trapped him in at the end of the previous movie. Surprise, surprise. Given that Michael is Laurie’s age it’s also clear that an enlarged prostate isn’t going to slow him down either, at least any more than a hail of bullets has. He is the boogeyman, a supernatural force that feeds on our fear, so there’s no getting rid of him. Even though the angry townsfolk of Haddonfield still make a hash of that here. Again.
*. The idiot plot is alive and well. When hunting Michael down the first thing you have to do is split up so that he can kill everyone separately. “Hey, did you lock the back door?” “Um, I’ll check . . .” How long ago was it that Scream made fun of all this shit? Twenty-five years or more. One of the characters even manages to shoot themself, and another runs out of bullets at the worst possible moment.
*. The thing about the killing this time out is that it’s just dished out in a totally obvious and uncaring way. There’s not even any attempt at suspense as you know exactly how every false alarm and jump scare is going to play out. Nothing surprises, except maybe just how casually all the various characters are dispatched. Every cliché is trotted out. People choosing not to turn the lights on in a house so they can look around with their flashlights instead. Blood dripping from the ceiling. We see a pitchfork leaning up against a wall in one shot and think “oh yeah, someone’s going to be using that.” And sure enough, they do.
*. Since we’re just putting in time here with the middle film of a trilogy Michael only goes around killing people like a guy chopping wood. He stabs them. One of them gets stabbed with a broken fluorescent tube. Another gets stabbed in the eye. That’s it for “good kills,” and I don’t think connoisseurs of this sort of thing will be impressed. Of course, Michael also has to do his signature move of canting his head to one side as he considers his work, but that just feels tired here. As does the iconic score.
*. I guess they were going for something like the gang of kids in It regrouping to take down their childhood demon, but that only feels like more borrowed material and it doesn’t work because at the end of the day every character other than Laurie and her granddaughter are going to end up as more dead teenagers, except that now they’re middle-aged and haven’t learned a thing in the past forty years. Can even movies as dull and uninspired as this kill Michael? Sadly, the answer seems to be that they can’t. The angry villagers (a classic nod that matches nicely with the opening taken from Bride of Frankenstein) can chant all they want about how “Evil dies tonight!” but the only way we’ll finally kill Michael is by ignoring him.