Author, dreamweaver and visionary (plus actor) Garth Marenghi once said, “I know writers who use subtext and they’re all cowards.” Garth was certainly not speaking about the writers of Halloween Kills, because no film has shown me so little and told me so much in terms of dialogue.
Firstly, through the setup of the film. Following on immediately from the events of David Gordon Green’s 2018 Halloween – confusingly the third film in the franchise with that title and a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) – Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her daughter (Judy Greer) and granddaughter (Andi Matichak) believe they have killed Michael Myers and left him to burn in her house. However, Michael is alive, leading to the film’s one bravura sequence wherein Michael dispatches several firefighters with their tools, whilst a fire blazes.
Laurie is taken to the hospital. She spends most of the film there, meaning the story mostly focuses on her granddaughter, who joins a mob – led by Michael survivor and returning character Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) – who are determined to kill Michael once and for all.
At a certain point I wondered if it was unfair that the dialogue bothered me so much, given that it is a slasher film. After all, it is a genre hardly known for its dialogue. However, the film draws attention to the poor script with its insistence on how significant this story is and how it’s the climax of a 40 year plus tale. If you were to take a drink every time someone says “evil dies tonight” you would end up in hospital yourself.
Laurie spends most of the film in one room, which is just a disgrace. This means she is sidelined in favour of characters from the 2018 film I already forgot about. Curtis clearly has a passion for these new films, and she manages to sell hysterical lines like “let him burn!” but, overall, this one gives her little to do. It’s hard to shake the feeling that this is filler designed to plug a gap between the first and third film.
Aside from the aforementioned firefighter sequence, there are scant positives to be found. The score – composed by John Carpenter, along with his son Cody and Daniel Davies – is thunderous and effective. The end credits song, ‘Hunters Moon’ by Ghost, is great, as is Greer’s performance throughout.
Halloween Kills is very gory, which stops the film from being totally dull for moments; but, given the famously bloodless original, it doesn’t feel appropriate.
If you are a horror fan, you will feel compelled to watch this film in order to take part in the conversation. If you are anything like me, however, you won’t rate this new addition to the franchise.