Halloween Kills is most unfortunate in that it could’ve been so good—but it winds up, at times, being pure garbage.
Come on! Director/co-writer David Gordon Green and co-writer Danny McBride were involved with Pineapple Express, a stellar example of a film mixing sinister shit with hilarious comedy. Green’s 2018 Halloween balanced sufficient creepiness with hilarious moments, harkening back to the brilliance of the John Carpenter original. The jokes never ruined the horror vibe, and they were pretty funny. It also had the kind of look and sound that Halloween fans want with these movies.
In Halloween Kills, Green still has the look and the sound dialed in perfectly. This is, without a doubt, one of the best-looking films in the series. When Michael Myers is killing people in this movie, it is horrifying—as it should be. If you took the murder scenes in this movie and just watched those, you would think you were dealing with one of the all-time-great slasher films. When the movie is good, it is really good.
But, when it is bad … oh boy, is it ever bad.
There’s an extremely well-done flashback to 1978, featuring a pristine mask and an effects-driven Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence). It the film jumps back to 2018—and, of course, Michael, who was supposedly killed in the last movie, is very much still alive. There are some brutal, absolutely horrifying kill scenes in the first half-hour or so. At this point, Halloween Kills looks like a solid sequel, at the least.
Then, instead of using comedy, Green gets political while depicting a serious mob uprising, as the town of Haddonfield decides enough is enough. Halloween canon like Tommy Doyle (now played by Anthony Michael Hall) and Lindsey (Kyle Richards) show up as scarred, PTSD sufferers who want Michael’s head on a stake. They rile up a crowd at the hospital (offering echoes of the original Halloween 2), which culminates in a final street fight that feels a little like the ending of Rocky V.
There’s a repeated chant of “Evil dies tonight!” that sounds an awful lot like “USA!” There’s a moment in which a person has a choice of jumping off a building or facing an even worse kind of death inside the building. There are moments when those fireman alarms, that indicate a firefighter in distress, are going off. There are a lot of Sept. 11 and COVID-battle parallels—and all of it is poorly done. The dialogue and acting are horrible, with seriously bad plot choices.
Really, come on! Again, Green and Danny McBride, the Pineapple Express guys, are here. Make that mob comedic. Pay McBride a little extra to be in that mob. Add some dark comedy, as in the Ash Vs. Evil Dead series. Fans don’t want attempts at total seriousness in their Halloween movies. But, alas, all shreds of dark comedy have been replaced by dumb monologue meanderings on the origins of evil, with Anthony Michael Hall sweating a lot. It’s not fun. It’s awkward and just damned awful.
Halloween Kills is a true oddity. It has some of the year’s best-looking and best-sounding film moments mixed with the very worst drama of any film I’ve seen in 2021. Another cut of this film that removes the hospital subplot altogether, with Danny McBride and Bruce Campbell replacing Anthony Michael Hall, is in order.
The film made $50 million at theaters over the weekend—a nice haul, considering it was released via streaming on the same day as its theatrical opening. The big opening virtually assures the final chapter in the trilogy, which is scheduled to shoot in January, is a go. Hopefully, Green gets back on track and finishes strong.
Halloween Kills is playing at theaters across the valley, and is streaming on Peacock.