There’s no denying John Carpenter’s Halloween is one of the finest and most iconic films in the horror genre, while also arguably the definitive slasher film. But as with Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees and Chucky, Halloween’s Michael Myers had sadly lost his edge over the years thanks to the increasingly dire sequels we’ve been subjected to – until 2018, when David Gordon Green and co-writers Jeff Fradley and Danny McBride retconned everything beyond the original film out of the canon and offered a direct sequel to the original classic and the strongest entry since ‘78. Although flawed, the film certainly breathed new life into Myers – and launched a new trilogy.
Halloween Kills, the Covid-delayed sequel to the 2018 entry, picks up where the previous film left off with Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen, and her granddaughter Allyson being driven to safety as a team of firefighters arrive to put out the inferno that Laurie had hoped would put an end to Michael Myers. After emerging seemingly unscathed from the blaze and laying waste to the first responders, Michael embarks on another killing spree as the people of Haddonfield come together to try and cease Michael’s reign of terror once and for all.
What follows is, rather unfortunately, a largely clunky and messy schlock-fest. While the kills retain the visceral and shocking gore that viewers have come to expect, the film ultimately loses its ability to truly scare as we spend so much time watching Myers slay everyone in his path that it quickly becomes tiresome and repetitive. The film starts incredibly strongly, though, with a flawlessly executed flashback sequence that takes us back to the first film with remarkable accuracy in its stunning visuals and design, with an exciting appearance from a familiar face (played by an uncanny lookalike). Unfortunately, it’s all downhill from here.
Cringe-inducing dialogue clearly written as cheesy buzz-lines for the film’s marketing campaign is often laughable, while some truly absurd set pieces and kills that threaten to pull the viewer out of the tone the filmmakers are going for and make the film something of an unintentional comedy. And unfortunately, attempts at intentional comedy fail entirely as they did in ’18 – which is a real shame considering Kenny f***ing Powers is on the writing team.
Returning ‘legacy’ characters played by Nancy Stephens and Charles Cyphers are a nostalgic treat for fans of the series – but criminally underused and ultimately wasted. Newcomer to the series Anthony Michael Hall turns up inexplicably to play Tommy Doyle (the young boy Laurie babysat back in ’78), which feels confusing and jarring alongside the actual returning cast. The film does occasionally find something of a stride with its powerful and thought-provoking scenes of the impact of fear on a community and the ensuing mob violence that it can cause. But sadly, any moment of genuine power is knocked back by some clunky dialogue or absurdity in the following scene. It’s a mess. The extended cut offers no help, extending the already tedious film with more drawn out kill set-ups and gratuitous gore.
The only real curiosity here is the alternate ending, that sees the final moments set up more of a cliffhanger than the otherwise rather ambiguous ending of the original cut. It has since been confirmed by writers that the third and final film in the trilogy is going to jump forward four years so that the pandemic can be written into the narrative, so it’s obvious why this alternate ending – with its suggestion that part three is going to pick up immediately where Kills ends – has been cut. Still, it’s fascinating to see it if only for an indication as to what form the third film could’ve taken. Hell, we might still see this scene at the beginning of Halloween Ends before the time jump into the Covid world.
Like 2018’s entry, the highlight is John Carpenter himself who returns with his son Cody and godson Daniel Davies to offer another absolutely stellar score. The soundtrack could be enjoyed as a standalone album in its own right – and arguably is a better experience than watching the film itself.
Halloween Kills is, on the whole, a disappointingly messy sequel that fails to even live up to the ’18 film, let alone the ’78 masterpiece, and this Extended Cut does very little to help.