Halloween Kills (R16, 105mins) Directed by David Gordon Green **
The curse of Michael Myers has struck again.
Just when you thought one of cinema’s most famous boogeymen might finally have been on a winning streak, along comes this dreary and disappointing follow-up to 2018’s cracking reboot.
Almost inexplicably, returning writer-director David Gordon Green and his co-writer Danny McBride (joined this time by Rectify’s Scott Teems) essentially jettison all that made their first stab so great. Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode is effectively sidelined for the entire running time, reduced to a few scowls, grimaces and growls, as she comes to terms with the fact that even shooting him in the face and burning him alive failed to end Michael’s reign of terror.
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With this picking up the action on that same night, October 31, 2018, newbies to the franchise are most certainly not catered for. Characters repeatedly refer to the events of John Carpenter’s original way back in 1978, while also alluding to young Michael’s original crime of killing his sister 15 year earlier.
Essentially, the plot this time around boils down to: Michael is still on the loose, he’s killing anyone in his path and the long-suffering citizens of Haddonfield, Illinois have had enough.
Led by Tommy Doyle (a virtually unrecognisable former Brat Packer Anthony Michael Hall), whose babysitter was killed during Michael’s 1978 rampage, townsfolk are wound up and out for blood. “Evil dies tonight,” is the oft-repeated refrain.
But as we know, this William Shatner-masked menace – “a six-year-old boy with the strength of a man and the mind of an animal” ¯ won’t be easily overpowered – or killed.
Round 12 of this constantly shape-shifting franchise simply fails to offer anything new other than suggesting that vigilantes are almost as bad as our anti-hero.
Green tries his best to keep things interesting, via clever point-of-view shots, the smart use of sound (which includes even daring to turn the near ubiquitous synth score off) and using a variety of implements for the coups de grâce (a fluorescent tube here, a pitchfork there – although knives definitely dominate), but it all becomes rather deathly dull, especially without Lee Curtis doing her best Linda Hamilton impersonation like last time.
There’s only so many times you can watch potential victims fumble their chance to shoot or stab Michael before it gets real old. Maybe it suggests the paralysis of fear, but it just feels ploddingly predictable.
Which is, of course, the pace at which our bad guy moves, never breaking a sweat on his rampage. But while he’s ruthlessly efficient in his blows, why does he (and how does he) take the time to stage the bodies after he’s killed them? And for what purpose, when he’s supposedly just the motiveless embodiment of evil?
As for the scare factor – sure there’s plenty of blood and gore, but to be honest Judy Greer’s (who plays Laurie’s daughter Karen) “Christmas jumper” was honestly the most frightening thing I saw.
Maybe next year’s lucky 13th tale and modern-trilogy ending Halloween Ends will provide an exciting or even satisfactory resolution, but, on the evidence of this moribund middle entry, I wouldn’t bet on it.
Halloween Kills is now screening in select cinemas.