It seems an age ago when David Gordon Green and Danny McBride did the impossible and reignited a struggling franchise, bringing a much more brutal Michael Myers to the screen in Halloween.
The main question posed to the creative team here though is, could they repeat the success of its predecessor?
To answer this, I draw on the Surgeons 6 rules to making a good sequel.
1. Identify the ideas, themes & executional elements that make the first film great. Or at least good. Or at least worthy of being sequelised.
Part of its appeal alongside the sheer force of The Shape carving his way through Haddonfield once again, juxtaposed by the fragility and strength of Laurie Strode, magnificently portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis, was how the film played to the damaging effects that trauma has on humanity, and how some condition themselves to the impact that this has had on their lives.
Where Halloween 2018 leaned into early stages of trauma through the eyes of the Strode family, who are in complete denial, numbed to the exposure that Laurie’s turmoil has taken, or through the taking on the pain and guilt of surviving such an ordeal, the latest outing needs to take this to the next level, Anger and Bargaining. The only problem with these emotions is that there isn’t a lot on the dial to play with. Each character that embodies these emotions invariably meet their grisly end as a result. Not that this completely squashes the narrative however, as the re-introduced character of Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) who leads a vigilante group on a mission to end evil and kill Myers for good. It certainly shines a light on the consequences that a mob mentality can have when confronting trauma. Brute force against brute force will always lead to ruin where there are no winners.
It’s biggest strength is in its central antagonist, Michael, who never holds back, continuing the theme from the 2018 feature. As it should be. He is and will always be the draw card to the franchise, and I’m glad to say that he never disappoints, arguably his portrayal here is one of the finest in the franchise.
It’s other strength from 2018, is with Jamie Lee Curtis.. Every moment she is on screen, you are willing for her to bring the same exhaustive performance. However, she is subjected to a more minor role, still an important one, as between her and the wounded Deputy Frank Hawkins (Will Patton) provide hope through acceptance, through what will be the final step in moving through a traumatic event.
2. Pay homage and do not violate/ignore said ideas and themes and elements
Here, Green still pays homage to the franchise as a whole, using elements that have played key roles or images that have been instilled from previous films, such as Halloween III: Season of the Witch, with the skeleton, pumpkin, and the witch. The creative team have proven before that they are lovers of the franchise and here is no exception to that rule. So, for this, they continue to immerse the viewer and expand on that sense of nostalgia without causing damage at all.
3. Introduce new/expanded themes, ideas and elements that will NATURALLY ALIGN to your first ideas, themes & elements.
As mentioned, the new elements introduced in this movie expand on the themes of trauma, most notably anger. This feels like a natural cause of action following the 2018 feature. The second part of this trajectory is through bargaining, a trait that is mostly seen through Karen (Judy Greer), in many ways the heart of the movie, pleading with her mother Laurie to listen to reason, desperately trying to save the life of the prison inmate, wrongly identified as Michael. This only makes her actions bittersweet in the face of the movie’s climax, a step that needed to be taken in order for the survivors, whoever they may be, to heal.
4. DO NOT rehash the first film and just give people “more of the same”.
This is where the movie starts to fall down a little.
While it tries to push the story arc along, it fails to resonate a beat and quicken the pulse at all. It is happy to play with the same kind of energy, but in doing so falls flat and starts to feel like it is a filler movie between Halloween and what will ultimately be Halloween Ends.It struggles to shift outside of this and doesn’t deliver as a result.
5. DO NOT-NOT rehash the first film by giving more of the same…. BUT “BIGGER”.
It could be argued here too that they’ve tried to go bigger, and who could blame them, and in part Michael falls into this category. I would counter this though by saying in the very action of attempting to go bigger, they lose sight of the integral components, and the raw energy captured before. It feels a little flat in its execution and disconnects from the viewer.
6. Be a good enough stand-alone film by itself.
And for its final hurdle in our 6 rules for a great sequel, Halloween Kills stumbles.
It fails to be viewed as a stand alone movie as it relies too greatly on its predecessors. It is these movies that allow the feature to stand tall, but take away these crutches, there isn’t a lot left on show.
So, where does that leave things with Halloween Kills?
Well, it manages to execute 3 out of 6 rules successfully, which falls in line with my gut reaction.
I marked it as a little over average and falls short of the previous movie.
Yes, it’s a filler and it might feel more satisfying once Halloween Ends completes that cycle.
Until then, we’re left with a vaguely entertaining movie that tries to satisfy the core fans, some of whom will be content, but others will note the lack of impact that came in 2018.
- Saul Muerte