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Friday, December 3, 2021

Review: ‘Halloween Kills’ is an embarrassing, bloody mess

by Lindsay Bahr | The Associated Press

Haddonfield, Ill. The poor people of America are celebrating the worst and longest Halloween ever. Looks like one movie wasn’t enough to stop the stampede on Michael Myers’ 40th anniversary.

“Halloween Kills” begins as David Gordon Green’s 2018 “Halloween” ends. Deputy Frank Hawkins (Will Patton) is bleeding from a wound in his neck. Michael Myers is burning in a basement and Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode is on her way to the hospital in the back of a pickup truck that literally dares her with her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Alison (Andy Matichak).

The big problem is that “Halloween Kills” is less of a sequel than the half-baked interlude before the finale. It’s a bloody, violent, chaotic and cynical mess and not even in a good or particularly scary or practical way. Poor Laurie is stripped of Strode for doing anything exciting and is instead confined to a hospital where she is recovering from having her limbs put together.

While it is commendable for Green and his co-writers Danny McBride and Scott Thames to commit to the reality of Laurie’s injury and not recover easily, immediately and miraculously, it is still a disappointment that Jamie Lee Curtis doesn’t have much else to do, especially if this is her last performance in the role.

“Halloween Kills” attempts to connect the present with the past once more, often reflecting on the events of 1978 (every time someone says “40 years ago” perhaps a dangerous drinking game is played out). This is done via flashback to 1978, where a younger, more skittish deputy Hawkins (Thomas Mann) offers a chance to kill Michael, and by bringing back the minor characters who first escaped with his knife.

So they have Kyle Richards, who has gone on to “Real Housewives” notoriety, as Lindsay Wallace, and Nancy Stephens as Marion Chambers. Tommy Doyle, the younger child of Laurie Babysat in 1978, is reintroduced and this time played by Anthony Michael Hall, who has a small support group visiting with his fellow survivors. They gather at a dive bar on Halloween to remember and pay tribute to the victims, but their ritual is soon interrupted by breaking news: He is back and making his way through town. Tommy rallies a vigilante crowd to make sure that “evil dies tonight.”

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The previous film was smart to delve into the idea of ​​generational trauma for characters like Laurie and her family. But this installment defies his lofty ambitions. As Michael counts a notable murder, “Halloween Kills” tries to make us consider whether *we* are real monsters.

This would all be theoretically fine if we were following humans we either cared about or who were at least entertaining to watch. These characters exclusively talk in trailer-ready jokes that sound like parodies. In addition to Laurie, the people I cared to learn more about were the couple who lived in Michael’s house and spent Halloween night in John Cassavetes’ “Love Streams,” smoking marijuana and eating charcuterie. But like most of the people they meet in the film, Big John (Scott MacArthur) and Little John (Michael McDonald) aren’t long for the world.

It’s hard to overstate how disorganized and ugly the movie is. How could it possibly be from the man who created lyrical and poignant indies like “George Washington” and “All the Real Girls”? But perhaps the biggest sin is that it doesn’t sound like a movie. “Halloween Kills” is a board-clearing pit stop.

“Halloween Kills”

4. 1 1/2 out of 1 stars

Rating: R (for language, horrific images, some drug use, strong bloody violence)

running time: 105 minutes


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