Movie Review: Halloween Kills

Ethan Woelbern, Features Editor


As an avid horror fan, I was quite excited for the new addition to the “Halloween” franchise, “Halloween Kills.” Despite having a horrible title and the series previous entry “Halloween” (2018) not quite living up to my expectations, I still had high hopes that this new film would capture a semblance of the atmosphere that the original 1978 John Carpenter film had. But as I turned off my computer after finishing the movie, I couldn’t help but feel confusion and disappointment. Sure, it had gory kills, a  captivating synth score, and an incredible performance by Jamie Lee Curtis in the role of Laurie Strode, but it didn’t match what made the original so iconic and menacing. The movie was, to be frank, just not scary.

The main horror “Halloween” (1978) accomplished was its ability to create a sense of unease through an unrelenting, anxious atmosphere. The ominous synth-heavy score, the slow panning camera shots, the gritty eight-millimeter film grain and Michael’s unrelenting stalking of Laurie Strode and her friends made viewers uneasy.  The way he slowly follows Laurie and their friend as they walk down the street and the way you can see him in the periphery of the shots right before the kills creates fearful anticipation so that when the kills happen they terrify the viewer.

However, never during “Halloween Kills” did I ever fear Michael or feel that sense of dread while he was on screen. Is it epic when he walks ominously out of a burning building and proceeds to mutilate a multitude of firefighters with an axe as John Carpenter’s droning synths fill your ears? Of course it is. Someone would be practically insane to say that isn’t awesome. But that’s the problem. There is no intense atmosphere that crescendos to a point of terror. There is no anticipation, just an overabundance of gory violence set to dope synth music. To be honest, it feels more similar to an action movie than it does to a horror one.

Furthermore, a majority of the screen time was taken up by a subplot on a mob chasing someone they falsely believe is Michael. Not only does it feel like filler in a movie that itself feels quite pointless, but it forces social commentary down the throats of viewers on how blind rage can cause collateral damage. Now I think it can be extremely interesting when horror incorporates social commentary, as more often than not the scariest things are those with some bases in reality, but the movie’s heavy-handed pseudo-commentary on society is just bland, uninteresting, and a detriment to the rest of the film by padding the runtime.

In the original “Halloween,” each scene feels like it serves a purpose. The movie’s short 90-minute runtime requires every shot and piece of dialogue to work towards moving the story forward. Sure, the effects may be dated and the dialogue a bit cheesy, but the way the atmosphere amplifies each scare is what makes it a classic.

If there is one thing that I think “Halloween Kills” does add to the overall Halloween story, it is the relationship between Michael and Laurie. The scene between Laurie and Officer Hawkins on Michael’s motives for his murder sprees takes the story in a potentially interesting direction. If Michael doesn’t see Laurie as a rival he seeks to hunt down but just as another body to lay waste to, then this could severely twist the trajectory of how the story currently goes. However, this plot point still suffers from the fact that it is setting up the finale to the new trilogy, making it feel like on its own it doesn’t amount to much. 

In totality, this movie suffers from an identity crisis that leaves it an utter mess. The kills are still enjoyable to watch and I’ll never say no to listening to the Halloween score one more time, but, since the movie doesn’t really understand what “Halloween” is all about, it fails to create any real tension.