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Review: 'Halloween Kills'

Some things just never seem to die. Take for instance the character Michael Myers, or the Halloween movie franchise in which he appears.

He’s back. In the 12th installment. In case you haven’t been counting.

The original Halloween (1978) was a modern-day horror classic. Writer/director John Carpenter and his co-writer, Debra Hill, followed the directive of the movie’s producer who insisted that it should rely on the “theater of the mind” approach that was the staple of so many great radio dramas.

There would be suspense and violence, but a minimal amount of blood and gore. It was shot on Panavision film equipment on a budget of just $300.000. The rest, as they say, is the stuff of Hollywood legend.

As with so many so many great Hollywood films, it left the audience wanting more. And Hollywood was more than happy to oblige, despite the overwhelming odds that the sequels would never approach the magic of the original.

That never seems to stop people with dollar signs in their eyes. They continue to crank out sequels and the loyal fans continue to buy tickets, knowing deep in their hearts that the movies will chart a long steady decline in terms of entertainment or scream worthiness.

Halloween Kills bears that out. Jamie Lee Curtis’s return to the series was calculated to breathe some life back into the series.

To some extent, it worked. Just about everyone loves Jamie Lee Curtis. But in Halloween Kills, her highly publicized presence largely amounts to marketing hype.

The story picks up where the previous film ended. Jamie Lee’s character Laurie is on her way to the hospital to be treated for a nasty stab wound inflicted by Michael Myers (aka., The Shape) who was last seen burning to death in the basement of Laurie’s house. She left him for dead. The rest of us suspected otherwise.

As was suggested in the original film, you can’t kill evil. And Michael Myers is the purest form of evil, a mindless, soulless, killing machine who simply can’t be stopped.

He’s the boogey man, who resides in the deepest recesses of our collective childhood psyche—some element of primal fear that we somehow are never able to shake off—that terrifying, faceless presence that relentlessly pursues us in our most terrifying nightmares. The ones that make us wake up in a cold sweat.

So, he’s back, to no one’s surprise. And he’s once again doing what he does best, killing everyone he encounters for no apparent reason. He’s the equal opportunity executioner.

It’s a premise that has worked in 11 previous Halloween movies and the spin-off movies like the Friday the 13th franchise. But it seems to be losing steam.

Poor Laurie seems a little world-weary, worn out, and downright haggard this time around. The former, hot-yet-virginal high-school babysitter is now a gray-haired grandmother who must somehow muster the strength and resolve to track down her nemesis one more time.

The story update involves the inclusion of a stereotypical gay couple and a town sheriff sporting a black cowboy hat that seems completely out of place. Other than that, it’s business as usual with dim-witted people getting what they deserve in the way of a blood-splattering send-off.

Unlike in the original Halloween, when Michael Myers would cock his head and proudly take stock of his murderous artistry, he has now become more brutally sadistic, continuing to unnecessarily stab and strangle victims long after they are already dead. Add “abuse of corpses” to his long list of crimes against humanity and nature itself.

Unlike the original, Halloween Kills peddles sadism and gore versus suspense and occasional jolts of shock. We live in an age when horror films substitute blood and gore for white-knuckle fear and anticipation.

Somewhere along the line, filmmakers have apparently forgotten how to make genuinely scary movies. They make repulsive movies instead, hoping that nobody will notice.

Special effects artists and the manufacturers of stage blood must love it, at least for the time being.

Characters from the original film return, including Loomis, played by Donald Pleasance who passed away back in 1995. Sadly, even his surprising cinematic resurrection can’t save Halloween Kills.

In addition to all the senseless slaughter there are senseless story elements like the window in a hospital hallway that allows people to peer right into the morgue, with ghastly bodies and toe tags in full view. Bad architectural design, I guess.

And there is the perpetually dark ICU where patients and staff (and the audience) can barely see. Another apparent interior design flaw involving the omission of lights.

I know, all this is done for the sake of creepiness. But much of it is head-shakingly stupid.

The whole story seems to lack any sort of coherence or structure. The fallback is to show scenes of people frantically and chaotically running through the hallways.

Halloween Kills is just a series of scenes spliced together that fall short of resembling a linear, logical plot. It spins its wheels in the muddy mire of previous Halloween movie elements that we have all seen before.

Nothing new here.

Of course, it ends on a shocker of a scene that sets up yet another installment (Halloween Ends, scheduled for release in 2022). Let’s pray that it lives up to its title.


Halloween Kills is in theaters and streaming on Peacock now.

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