A Brief Review of Halloween Kills (2021)

Halloween Kills

Before watching Halloween Kills (2021), I wanted to make sure I gave it a fair chance. This led me to revisit Halloween (2018) the night before seeing the new one. I am glad I did so for two reasons. First, my impressions of Halloween on the second viewing were somewhat more positive than the first time I saw it. While I still don't think this reboot adds much of value when the 1978 original was nearly perfect, I did appreciate Jamie Lee Curtis more this time around. She really carried the film, and I think it would have been awful without her. The second reason it was helpful to watch the first film again was that Halloween Kills began by picking up where the first one ended, not unlike what Halloween II (1981) did.

Halloween Kills started strong but quickly unraveled. There were two big problems with the film. The first one was that they gave Curtis far too small a part. She was on the sidelines for most of it, and her few scenes contributed little. If there was any question about what Halloween (2018) would have been like without Curtis to carry it, Halloween Kills answered it. Without Curtis, the filmmakers decided to go all-in on the blood and gore. Michael Myers' racked up an impressive body count and had many decent kills. But whatever appeal the first film had in making the audience care what happened to the characters was absent here. This one seemed much closer to Rob Zombie's vision of Halloween than a meaningful sequel to the 2018 film.

This brings me to the second of the two big problems: Halloween Kills was a chaotic mess of a film. It seemed like the filmmakers were working in at least 4 different directions at the same time. There were many irrelevant scenes that went on way too long and added nothing of value, a couple of weak attempts to inject Danny McBride's oddly manic stoner humor into a film that was a poor match for it (though it should be noted that these were somewhat more restrained than the 2018 film), and far too much time ineffectively moralizing about mob justice. The MAGA-inspired "evil dies tonight" nonsense went on so long it came close to ruining the film all by itself. By going in so many different directions, the filmmakers undercut any tension that might have led to a scary film. And whoever decided to cast the kid from Weird Science (1985) in such a central role did not do the audience any favors!

While watching Halloween Kills, what struck me the most was that it seemed like the filmmakers lacked a clear vision for what they were trying to accomplish. This had not been a problem in the 2018 film, but it was hard to ignore here. At times, it almost seemed like I was watching a loosely connected series of scenes that might have been cut from the first film. Was there supposed to be a plot? Was this one just filler? Did somebody tell them they had to make three films and they had no good ideas for how to get from the first to the third?

It is not surprising that Halloween Kills has been receiving mixed reviews. Fans either love it or hate it, and I haven't seen much middle ground. While there are at least a few positive reviews from film critics, most of the ones I've seen are very negative. Some critics have said this is the kind of sequel that ruins the 2018 original and that it was so bad that it likely killed any desire for more of these films. I can see why they'd say that, but I would not go that far. Audiences who are just interested in some mindless Halloween nostalgia, don't care whether the story makes any sense, and just want to see some decent kills should see Halloween Kills and will probably like it. And while I'd agree that it was bad, it did not ruin the 2018 film or erode my curiosity to see whether they can get back on track for the next one.

Many fans have been posting their rankings of all the Halloween films on social media. I am not going to do that because the Halloween films are not part of the same franchise. We have three different franchises: the original, the Rob Zombie take, and this one. Of the three francises, the original is far superior on the strength of the first three films alone, despite some of the later sequels being awful. As for how the two Rob Zombie films compare to the more modern versions, I thought Halloween (2018) was better than either of Zombie's films but that both of Zombie's films were better than Halloween Kills.

Here's the trailer: