Director: David Gordon Green Screenwriter: Scott Teems, Danny McBride, David Gordon Green Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Thomas Mann, Anthony Michael Hall, Kyle Richards, Nancy Stephens, Charles Cyphers Distributor: Universal Pictures Running Time: 105 min. MPAA: R

As the sequel to 2018’s Halloween, Halloween Kills finds little else to explore in its slasher continuance. The previous picture was strong in that it used Laurie Strode’s trauma and making the picture more about her struggles with PTSD than the unstoppable killer of Michael Meyers. But with Meyer’s returning from his fiery grave of the last film, what’s left to explore? This film seems to suggest there’s an angle of how fear breeds hate. What it ultimately stresses more than anything is that Michael Meyers is pure evil and must be killed, a notion that is repeated several times as this slasher franchise decays back into its moldy roots.

The film takes place mere minutes after the last film ended. Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) had successfully trapped Michael Meyers inside her house of traps and set it aflame. The fire department, however, arrives and accidentally ends up unearthing Meyers once more. After an exceptionally violent exchange with firefighters, his rampage continues. It is during this time that a number of survivors start taking notice of the carnage in their community. Aiming to rid Michael of their lives, the survivors band together to make this Halloween the last one that Michael Meyers can ruin.

Of course, as the title implies, Halloween Kills dishes up a gory and violent slaughter. The Meyers kills include eyes getting stabbed, heads being decapitated, and vicious stabbings. The violence, however, becomes so absurd that any greater focus on Meyers as a force of evil feels lessened by the over-the-top kills. For example, one character attempts to shoot Meyers with a gun and accidentally shoots herself in the face. Come to think of it, there’s a lot of guns in this film and everyone shoots at Meyers like they’re members of The A-Team with how much they miss at point-blank range.

It’s strange that a film such as is more self-aware of its slasher elements yet explores little of the greater appeal behind dealing with grief. The flashback to Michael’s first Halloween rampage in the late 1970s has an interesting angle with how Michael was cornered and a cop let his mistake become covered up. There’s also a lingering threat of an escaped mental patient who finds himself being unfairly targeted by the unruly mob that he brewed amid the terror of Meyers. These angles of self-reflection, however, are incredibly brief. It doesn’t take long for someone in the film to break a monologue or a moment of doubt by constantly stating that Meyers is to blame and that he needs to be killed at any cost. There’s a point where the mob of angry residents realizes that maybe they’re the monsters. They’re still another tragic mistake away, however, from realizing that evil doesn’t just go away if you kill it. That would seem poetic if the film weren’t already splashing about in its simplistic slasher sensations of revenge and murder.

The self-aware and tongue-in-cheek elements of the picture become annoying after a while as it becomes clear this Halloween is aiming more for laughs than reflection. After the firefighter slaughter, Meyers targets a snappy couple who comment on how Laurie could kick their ass and that they shouldn’t try to reason with a masked killer who enters their home. This sequence, capped with some vicious kills, is okay on its own as a little comedic aside. However, we later get another comedic couple with the quirky gay antics of Big John and Little John. Both of them occupy the childhood home of Meyers and their antics will continue as Meyers returns to the spot he once stood in to look out the window. This reflection by Meyers feels lessened when he’s trying to kill a couple who attack him with cheese knives.

Halloween Kills certainly delivers on the violence but any lingering introspection from the previous film is sadly gutted out of this sequel. It’s such a frustrating film in that there was some chance for the film to go the extra mile and actually make commentary on how the mentally ill are perceived and how trauma can often create a cyclical nature of pain. These angles are touched upon and quickly become lost in this slushy mess of blood and guts, the viscera gunking up anything more that Halloween could have possibly been than just another Michael Meyers rampage.

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