We love horror, you love horror. These days everyone loves horror, and in October, it’s pretty much all any of us wants to see. The streaming sites are loading us up too – nearly every platform and network has a “Halloween collection” of scary films. John Carpenter’s original Halloween (available for free via the Roku Channel, Fawesome, Redbox, AMC, Shudder and Spectrum) is top of the list now and forever for so many reasons. The look, sound and feel of the film still brings a chill to the spine in a way that’s proven to be timeless, and nothing that’s come after captures its menacing magic. But some films in the franchise have come sort of close. Halloween Kills, which came out Friday and can be viewed on Peacock TV, is not one of them.
Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode with Judy Greer back as her daughter and Andi Matichak (who’s supposed to be a high schooler but looks about 30 years old) in tow as her granddaughter. Michael Meyers of course, survived the house fire he was trapped under by the trio in the 2018 reboot. Once again the relentless, slow-moving monster in the mutilated William Shatner mask meanders about town massacring anyone in his way.
But this time it’s not just our gal Laur who’s fed up with his horrific hijinx. The people of Haddonfield, Illinois are done. So done, they form a vigilante group to stop him once and for all (yeah, sure). Led by Anthony Michael Hall as all-grown-up Tommy Doyle, he’s the kid Laurie babysat in the original (who also was played by Paul Rudd in Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers).
If you’re a hardcore Halloween head, this new film apparently has easter eggs, shout-outs and clapbacks, but if you have trouble keeping track of them after the 3rd – and yes, Season of the Witch, while formerly maligned is now hailed as something cool and unique – none of it matters. Actually, this movie doesn’t matter. Not in terms of story or adding to the mythic tale of Myers.
The fact that Blumhouse, Carpenter and Curtis are involved says a lot, and it feels like a genuine attempt to give fans what they want. It just fails. Director/co-screenwriter David Gordon Green has made a Halloween film filled with eerie music, gushing gore and the man of our nightmares, but sadly, it’s like everything else that makes a good movie was left out. And Halloween Kills being an obvious set-up for the next film, Halloween Ends, is no excuse either.
What we get is Curtis stuck in a hospital bed musing hokey things about the nature of evil and Hall once again playing tough guy to try and make us forget he’s the nerd from The Breakfast Club. There’s some pretty cool flashback footage and recreations set in 1978 (nice to see the venerable Donald Pleasence on screen) and a few campy casting reprisals including Real Housewife of Beverly Hills’ Kyle Richards as Lindsay Wallace (she played the other kid Laurie babysat that fatal night in the original) and Haddonfield Sheriff Brackett (Charles Cyphers).
But there’s a lot that’s not cool, nor very exciting: a chaotic and all-around unpleasant hospital mob against a mentally challenged person, a first responder/firefighter murder spree and other un-PC butchery of a kid (reversing a previously accepted fact about MM not hurting lil ones; at least it’s offscreen), plus bludgeonings of Black, elderly and gay people. Ok, “the shape” as he’s called, might actually be an equal opportunity destroyer if we tally up all his kills, but sadly, body count doesn’t equal killing it as a movie experience, even during Halloween season.