GORE IN THE STORE
HALLOWEEN KILLS ***
Directed by David Gordon Green.
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Anthony Michael Hall.
Horror, US, 106 minutes, certificate 18.
Released in the UK in cinemas October 15th by Universal.
Picking up immediately after the events of 2018’s reboot, this COVID delayed sequel then decides to flashback to that fateful Halloween night in 1978. This flashback serves as both one character’s backstory and a slight retcon of the original films ending. By the films close it feels slightly pointless and unnecessary, much like this new entry that attempts to forge its own path with its rebooted continuity yet is unable to stop indulging itself with a number of nods to the films it is disregarding at the same time. As a result, it ends up on the same level as the original sequel, which may be fine for long-time fans of the boiler suited, blank faced murderer but could prove to be a chore for everyone else.
After escaping certain death after being trapped by Laurie Strode in a fiery death trap, Michael Myers immediately gets back to doing what he does best; which is eviscerating every single person who gets in his way while walking slowly. As news of his escape and resulting killing spree starts to spread around Haddonfield, a now middle-aged Tommy Doyle, the small boy Laurie was babysitting all those Halloweens ago, decides to take matters into his own hands by leading a mob who are determined to get their own revenge on Myers for all the trauma he has inflicted on the town and its inhabitants. Meanwhile Laurie, recovering in hospital, and her daughter Karen struggle to come to terms with the evenings events while granddaughter Allyson decides to join the ever-growing mob to avenge her family and friends.
Originally slated for release before last years American election, comparisons could be drawn between the films ill-informed mob and the mob and cult like mentality that has surfaced in America to startlingly troubling effect over the past few years. It is an interesting area to explore, especially in a slasher sequel, but Green lacks the subtlety or even satirical edge that could have made much more of such a topic fit in the way that the previous film neatly captured the spirit of the Me-Too zeitgeist at the time of its release.
The director, and co-screenwriter Danny McBride’s, history in comedy seems to shine through just as much as the sadistic and brutal gore that is on such prominent display here. At times Green’s quick editing of reaction shots or character introductions seem more in the spirit of his stoner comedy PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, leading one to wonder if he is actually satirising the franchise as well as the very idea of slasher sequels themselves.
For fans of this particularly convoluted franchise there is a surplus of easter eggs and nods to the past; whether it’s the hospital setting that recalls the first sequel or the masks that hearken back to the once maligned, now revised cult third entry SEASON OF THE WITCH. Whilst one time Brat Pack mainstay Anthony Michael Hall has stepped into Tommy Doyle’s shoes there are a host of otherwise familiar faces making their first appearance since the original including Charles Cyphers and Kyle Richards as Lindsey. Whilst it lacks the classic simplicity and elegance of John Carpenter’s era defining original, his exceptional score nicely remixes the immortal theme tune as well as adding a number of new stings to its soundscape that help propel the narrative forwards despite its numerous flashbacks.
Newcomers who found themselves impressed by the last film will walk away disappointed here with a film that only seems interested in upping the body count in increasingly gory ways. Jamie Lee Curtis and Judy Greer, who made for an effective mother and daughter last time around, have very little to do here whilst Andi Matichak, as granddaughter Allyson, seems content to wade through every slasher character cliché going. For the fans however there is enough to keep us entertained and coming back for HALLOWEEN ENDS which this film’s impressively downbeat ending sets up in a bloody and nihilistic fashion.