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Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Halloween Kills

Title: Halloween Kills

Describe This Movie In One Highlander Quote:
THE KURGAN: Happy Halloween, ladies!
Brief Plot Synopsis: Masked maniac murders municipality, mocks mortality.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 2 cheese boards out of 5.
Tagline: "Three generations Strode strong."

Better Tagline: "Maybe it's time to let the old ways die."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: When last we left Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), she — along with daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andu Matichak) — had trapped killer Michael Myers in the burning basement of her Haddonfield home. Naturally, given the killer's indestructible nature (and the requirements of the franchise), Myers escapes the basement and continues his rampage. This time, he's opposed by a group made up of survivors of his original murder spree.
"Critical" Analysis: Halloween Kills is the sequel to 2018's Halloween, the first of David Gordon Green's planned Michael Myers trilogy. That movie was itself the direct sequel to the 1978 John Carpenter original, and ignored the franchise's other nine(!) entries. In other words, forget all that stuff about Michael being Laurie's brother, Druidic curses, or Silver Shamrock Novelties.

And for the love of Dr. Loomis, nobody mention Rob Zombie.

The action picks up immediately after the Strode women's fiery confrontation with Michael. Laurie, recall, was seriously wounded in the confrontation. As a result, she spends the bulk of the movie in a Haddonfield hospital, commiserating with Deputy Hawkins (Will Patton), who harbors a secret going back 1978 (and who was also wounded in the previous movie).

Sidelining Curtis for most of the action is an interesting choice, and ultimately an unfortunate one. Greer and Matichak position themselves as potential successors to Curtis's "scream queen" title, though that term isn't really appropriate for characters with their level of agency. Unless understandably hollering when your leg gets broken, that is.

Instead, most of the focus falls on the other survivors of Michael's 1978 rampage: Tommy (Anthony Michael Hall) and Lindsey (Kyle Richards), the two kids Laurie was babysitting; nurse Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens); and Lonnie (Robert Longstreet), another kid grown into a troubled adult. When news of Michael's return gets out, Tommy leads the townspeople in a vigilante crusade to stop the maniac once and for all.

It's a nice touch, or would be, if Green (abetted by writers Scott Teems and Danny McBride) didn't decide to sabotage this happy reunion with half-baked commentary about the nature of mob violence and callous disregard for characters we're apparently supposed to sympathize with.

[Curtis and others have talked about the supposed parallels between the movie vigilantes and the January 6 Capitol riot, which would seem appropriate except that the (fictional) movie characters eventually show remorse for their actions.]

You could call the subplot "tragicomic," in a way. Tragic, in that Michael racks up quite an impressive body count, and comic in the sense that many of them die as a result of their own stupidity. Ominous footfalls upstairs? Grab a cheese knife and check it out. Deranged lunatic on the roof of your car? Fire your gun indiscriminately through the windows. Realizing your opponent is a supernaturally invincible force of nature? Go after him with a baseball bat.

Sure, victim idiocy is a staple of slasher flicks, but when the movie itself has characters offering meta-commentary on the nature of evil and Michael's own unnatural resilience, it feels like Green and company are trying to have their cake and eat it too.Without spoiling things, the ending finally says the quiet part about this franchise loud, which amounts to nothing because we already knew there was going to be a third movie anyway.

The kills are appropriately brutal, and Curtis — for the time we get with her — is always good, but 40 years on, Michael Myers is less compelling a menace than he was during the Carter Administration. Maybe it's time to send that mask into space along with its real-life inspiration.

Halloween Kills is in theaters and streaming on Peacock today.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar