Halloween Kills

Halloween Kills ★★★½

"EvilevilevilevilvlvjflfjeievilevilevilEVIL!" - this movie

Was this movie ghost-written by Christopher Nolan? Because I've rarely ever heard a movie's thematic mantras repeated so often in dialogue outside something like "Batman Begins". Eeeeeveryone pontificates about The Evil, The Boogeyman, how Michael is the personification of fear. When the latest part 2 of the ever-rebooting "Halloween" franchise isn't smacking its lips over Rob Zombie levels of excessive brutality (Michael has always been vicious sure but I swear this movie is making a joke out of it in moments where a dead body is slumped over a kitchen table and yet Michael continues to grab kitchen knife after kitchen knife to stab into the corpse's back), it's using a somewhat confused indictment of mob rule to gracelessly underline and circle and jerk off onto the haunting words of Dr. Loomis from the original, which is that this person is an amalgam and manifestation of all that's wicked in the world. It gets absurd, like we're in a maniacal midnight movie that also wants to navel gaze on itself in a thousand mirrors.

It's an interesting change of pace from the usual tip-toeing dread build-up of a "Halloween" movie; here it's pure hysteria from the very beginning, a sustained fever pitch wherein people aren't startled by Michael's sudden attacks as often as they go actively looking for him, armed and ready to kill. A turning of the tables. For once everyone knows he's out there, not just Laurie and Loomis, and vigilante justice becomes Michael's primary combatant this time.

That's thrilling as a tone and results in more gory overkill than the first 6 "Halloween"s combined, probably. Come to "Halloween Kills" for the carnage carnival, if that's what you're looking for (I for one was, yes). But the idea of revenge against Michael Myers, of fighting back against fear itself, is stupid as hell in the context of many things: of reality (how are you going to defeat fear? Is fear not going to exist in life anymore after you destroy this one serial killer?), of a slasher movie, of a "Halloween" sequel, of a part 12 in a series, of a movie that was already made back-to-back with its own follow-up film "Halloween Ends" coming out next year. Maybe, maybe if this were a single film unconnected to any franchise and with no intention of perpetuating itself, the constant dialogue about facing fear and stopping Evil could bear some weight.

Not in a Michael Myers movie, though. We know he's not going to be killed, neither in this movie nor the next one though it'll be amusing to watch "Halloween Ends" try to enforce some artificial finality. As much as the boogeyman is a timeless metaphorical concept in human history, so too is this slasher movie icon something that can never be concluded, so why bother even talking about it, let alone screaming about it in emphatic repetitive terms like a sermon trying to make believers of the audience. When David Gordon Green and pals revived "Halloween" yet again in 2018 they made it more profitable than ever, like blockbuster-level, to say nothing of its relative critical redemption as well. Not only is Michael more consistently active than Jason or Freddy in the 21st century (over a decade and counting since either of them made a movie...), he's now way more popular, so he's not going away in our lifetime, so what is the goddamn point of "evil ends tonight"? Just to make the townsfolk look like reactionary fools? The movie acts like it's on their side most of the time except for one interlude when they go overboard. Did Green and his screenwriters actually think they'd convince us that the movie would end with Michael being taken down? That's pretty insulting. It would've been way more bold if the characters had to reckon with the realization that Michael cannot be killed. Like if at the end they collectively decide "well, we just have to try to avoid him from now on. Shrug."

(some minor spoilers after this)

Since the movie just won't shut up about Michael's immortality, it got me thinking more than any other "Halloween" flick about the logical end game. This movie posits that Michael just wants to literally go home, to be inside his childhood house and stand there at the window..indefinitely? I doubt they mean to infer that that's all he wants, but they do, so couldn't they just let him occupy that home by himself forever, where he will theoretically never leave or harm anybody ever again, so long as no one enters?

That's too easy of course, and no "Halloween" movie would ever let Michael be characterized as a mere pet you just have to lure into a comfortable cage. So the other way of looking at it, per his behavior especially in this movie, is that he wants to go out and kill everyone. All the time. And as we see here but already knew from a million previous movies, explosives nor fire nor bullets nor blades can harm him, no matter how much of a dog-pile can be arranged. What, then? He's not tracking Laurie, he has no agenda beyond sadism, and he's officially more than ever a supervillain with no one out there who even comes close to his meta-human powers. He could just kill everyone in the world eventually. Might take him a while to get around but he'd never be stopped, and he'll never want to stop. "Halloween Kills" without realizing the consequences of its creative choices has suggested that in the reality of Michael Myers, it can only end with him walking an empty earth alone, 8 billion corpses at his feet, trapped in an existential paradox. I mean, 5 stars to any "Halloween" movie that ends that way! But you know the next one will just do some lazy hack shit like "we locked his ghost in a closet, so now it's all over!"

Anyway, to sum up: the movie is incredibly dumb in many ways (also funny to see the old trope of people splitting up happen about 48 times in a row), the editing can be too messy during some attacks when you can never get a clear sight of what he's doing to a person, it doesn't make sense that Laurie would wax poetic about Michael's staggering unstoppability considering in this version of the "Halloween" universe she only knows him from 2 relatively modest killing sprees, I also don't get why they show him sparing two particular characters in the 1978 flashback..it just seems glaringly inconsistent with his M.O., and also he surrendered?! Really?, and finally: stop showing us his face without the mask on! They do it in long shots or unfocused ones but so many times from so many angles that there's no mystery left, and it's not like he's some marvel of ever-changing make-up monstrosity like Jason; he just looks like Larry from the hardware store or whatever. Really takes the phantom effect out of him. Please stop.

On the plus side the movie is pretty well-shot, atmospheric, chugs at a hearty momentum, gets titanically vicious (it really did feel like watching recycled clips from Rob Zombie's "Halloween II" in some scenes), the scorched mask looks terrific, it's awesome to see Jim Cummings drop by, same with Anthony Michael Hall even though his seemingly important character is rather under-served in the end, and all the elements do a good job of generating a constant state of apprehension that Michael could be anywhere always which is not something most of the other sequels managed to do.

I don't respect it exactly the way it wants to be respected, because it reckons with deep meta ideas beyond its tiny grasp, but as another grand pulpy slasher spree, it fully succeeds, more so than most of its predecessors.

*the following is just a thing I'm trying out for movies I've seen in theaters from now on, as like a time capsule*
Trailers I Saw
- Antlers (cool!)
- King Richard (corny biopic Oscar bait but looks better suited for Will Smith than his rotten blockbuster choices of late)
- House of Gucci (looks gloriously campy)
- Scr5am (eh)
- Last Night in Soho (pure cinema!)
- The Black Phone (Ethan Hawke in terrifying masks yay, supernatural ghost helper nay)

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