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Subtlety dies tonight

When Halloween returned to the big screen in 2018, it was exactly the fresh start the franchise needed. By ignoring all the sequels and reboots, and treating it as a direct continuation of the original 1978 film, it was able to reintroduce the iconic Michael Myers without the baggage of overly complicated and convoluted explanations for his evil that we received in one sequel after another.

It was hardly a horror masterpiece, but it was a solid continuation of Lorie Strode’s story, and a real-life look at how someone like her may have processed the trauma she experienced at the hands of a masked killer back in ’78. At its heart, Halloween has always been a very small, personal story between Lorie and The Shape.

Halloween 2018 understood the dynamic extremely well. One of the best moments in the movie is early on when Lorie Strode’s granddaughter is talking with her friends, and she mentions the story of what happened back in 1978. In response, one of the kids says: “…wasn’t it just like four people who died?”

That, my friends, is good writing. The fact is, the world has changed a lot since the original Halloween. We live in an age of mass shootings, and news stations that amplify every horrible thing happening in the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Some teenager being told a story about a quadruple homicide that happened over two decades before they were born is not going to send shivers down their spine and leave them terrified of walking down the streets of Haddonfield, Illinois alone.

But, with Halloween Kills the writers and director apparently felt the pressure to up the stakes, because every performance is amped up to eleven, and the town as a whole is essentially its own character in the film.

You see, despite what Halloween 2018 led us to believe, apparently there is a lot of scar tissue in the minds of the local residents as it relates to Michael Myers’ one-night reign of terror decades prior. In fact, early in the film several of the survivors from the original move return to share their horrible boogeyman stories to a bar full of patrons who seem equal parts confused and terrified.

But, wouldn’t you know it: the events of Halloween 2018 (which this film continues, on perhaps the longest Halloween night in the history of man) begin rolling in on the local news and the patrons go from having a fun night out to forming a city-wide mob. This may sound like a really abbreviated version of what happened, but that’s because the cartoonish way that the townsfolk are characterized in this movie leaves very little room for plot or character development.

Just seeing that Michael Myers is loose in their city enrages them to the point that they’re arming themselves and ready for a bit of light-to-moderate murder. All the while, they rally behind the shouts of: “Evil dies tonight!” As I said, subtlety is definitely not the strength of this movie…

But what of Lorie Strode? Well, she’s altogether pointless in this flick. She spends the entirety of the movie in a hospital treating wounds from her run-in with The Shape. She waxes poetic and provides a few exposition dumps, but otherwise is relegated to the bench in the penultimate entry into this trilogy.

The remainder of the characters — including Lorie’s daughter and granddaughter — are left with very little to do, as the mob becomes the main opponent of Michael Myers this time around. And, it turns out they are a really, really bad opponent. I get that the mob mentality that has swept our nation is a hot topic, but it’s so thoroughly mishandled in Halloween Kills that the audience was often laughing at the mobs actions by the latter half of running time.

They’re all portrayed as wildly misguided, over-the-top idiots who are so wrong about everything that even the Sheriff says (at one point of particularly bad scripting) that perhaps they’re even worse than Michael himself.

Which, of course, brings us to The Shape himself, Michael Myers. If the rest of this movie is filled with cliché writing and cartoonish characterizations, Michael almost singlehandedly saves the film himself. For decades, Michael Myers has been an abused, neglected, and often misused horror villain. But, in Halloween Kills he is every bit the boogeyman the town believes him to be. From the opening moments to the closing credits, he leaves behind an absolute bloodbath for the town to deal with.

Watching him in action was a bit like seeing Darth Vader in Rogue One; when the legend of the character finally lives up to that onscreen. Finally, this man who is essentially fueled by pure evil is given the opportunity to showcase it; all while John Carpenters heavily synthesized score plays his theme on loop.

Is Halloween Kills a good movie? Not by a long shot. But, it’s an entertaining entry because of the man in the mask. In the middle film of this trilogy, he has essentially declared war on the City of Haddonfield, and shown that he will not be an easy villain to dispatch.

Hopefully, Lorie actually gets out of her hospital bed for Halloween Ends so we can finally have a fitting conclusion to this franchise…before it’s rebooted again in another 3-5 years.

3 out of 5 stars.

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