Halloween Kills

Halloween Kills ½

Halloween blows.

This isn’t a film, it's limited edition merch. It’s licensed ephemera that the accountants, landlords, product managers and any other well-adjusted member of the spend-money-now official horror fandom, who all dress vaguely rockabilly for some reason, can safely enjoy with their terrible children.

The opening flashback of Halloween Kills is the biggest brick I’ve seen in a while: a nerd looks into the camera and croaks “the boogey man”, some homeschooled stage kids fail to be convincingly mean and Jim Cummings, the auteur behind that pretty bad zodiac-but-a-werewolves film who I think posts on here (hey man, halloween kills sucks shit but I know money is money), gets to pretend he’s in the 70s before being murdered by a comedy version of Michael Myers. It is so stultifying and dead-on-arrival that it could only make sense as a sketch from the mtv movie awards featuring a competition winner or, at a stretch, Ja Rule.

Their attempt at retro seems to involve an instagram filter, bad sound editing, manneres costuming and a deeply unconvincing loomis impression (alongside a deepfake impersonator cameo that would be less embarrassing if he just took his dick out and stood there). If you shoot the old props in the same way you're shooting the new ones then guess what is going to happen, my man. It is far, far more “disrespectful” to Halloween films or, much more importantly, your time than any of the weird avenues Rob Zombie took his original retelling down.

Somehow the clumsy gesture at Halloween 3, a once derided sequel which has been reassessed so widely it has become a heavily-merched microwave-ready hot take, was my least favourite youtube-details-you-missed turd drop.

The misleading Michael Fights The Firemen portion at the start feels like a video game cut scene, something you might be able to sell as a tie-in NFT but in a feature moves like as if shot in the wrong framerate. The tentative “alien trying a new power”, complete with nu-metal head tilt, way they shoot Michael moving around in this whole thing is really bad, learning yet more incorrect lessons from the original. Halloween Kills has superhero film dry rot deep in its planks.

The much-discussed mob stuff is the absolute weakest piss available wholesale, an out-of-date shrug towards the “political” that could mean anything if you squint hard enough. It’s no coincidence that the joe-bob-briggs-endorsing horror corporate establishment would sluice something so vague from their fetid orifice that it could equally plausibly be interpreted as condemnation of Trump (remember that joker?!) or the black lives matter movement. The “oh no, mental illness!” refocus-on-the-individual feint that it ends with is such a joke too. Perfect too that they dedicate a bizarrely detailed gore shot to a suicide when some of the other kills, you know: the ones by the guy from the fucking poster, are just breezed past.

These people have no idea what they’re doing.

I'm giving into the temptation and bringing up the Zombie films because, aside from my great affection for them, the current patch of Hallow-David-Gordon-Gr-eens give you an appreciation for the difference between characters desperately trying to explain themselves in fiction and characters desperately trying to repitch to you the film's plot. Halloween Kills, firmly in the second camp, feels like every single line is designed to make it into the trailers, the tactic of a fucking coward. Even Jamie Lee is rolling around in the dogshit here making soulful faces as if she somehow believes she was Laurie Strode irl. Never forget actors who buy into feeling kinship with the horror protagonists they played are doing so because they think four weeks on set is roughly as tough to endure as everyone you know being brutally stabbed to death.

Similar to the pig vomit they pushed up as a first instalment a couple of years back, this whole thing feels like a conscious dilution of what Zombie did to an almost homeopathic degree. Any risk is completely removed, any choice is excised. At one stage some character, who cares who, takes off Michael's mask as if to steal his power. Then he just puts it back on again. Just one of the many truly compelling psychological tapestries woven before our eyes.

The stunt casting, something that was “cute” at best when Wes Craven did it in New Nightmare in 1994, is highlighted by a literal spotlight being thrown on each of the proud sag-card recipients during a half-assed talent show. The rockabilly goth party is the worst bit of Halloween 2 (2009) but at least it is a human being making a choice.

This is exactly the kind of horror masterwork you’d expect from a guy who tried to be terrance malick but gave up, a comedy writer who has spent ten years being told his tv writing is sacred art, some former child actors, the guy who shot paranormal activity 2 and a load of blumhouse money men including former horror blogger Ryan Rotten who kickstarted his career as personal assistant to convicted pedophile Victor Salva on Jeepers Creepers 2.

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