*NOTE: The middle section of this article will contain spoilers, and I’ll delineate where they start and end!*
Is there any Halloween movie more divisive than the 2018 outing that reset the franchise to another timeline–its FIFTH if you count the Rob Zombie and Halloween 3 portions of the multiverse!–and started a new Michael Myers trilogy?
When it comes to discussing the Halloween movies, there are some exceptions, but by-and-large, it’s easy to predict what people will or won’t have liked. You’ve got the odd “Man, I loved the Rob Zombie remakes” outlier folks, but mostly it’s pretty easy to see a pattern of accepted quality.
Not so with 2018!
I know many folks who consider it one of the worst of the franchise, but also an equal number who consider it among the best. The disparity in opinions on 2018 are wild to me.
For my part, I will cop to not having loved it. It’s in my lower half of Halloween movies as a franchise. It had promise, but ultimately a lot of it just didn’t work for me. The nonsensical heel turn by Michael’s doctor, which COMPLETELY took me out of the movie world. Andi Matichak as the newest proto-Laurie, and a pale shadow of the Curtises, Harrises, and Taylor-Comptons that preceded her. The direction of the Laurie Strode character that felt less natural than what H20 did with her. It didn’t feel like what I wanted, even if I accept that they went back to grassroots and undid the Michael/Laurie blood relationship.
Still, I’m a sucker for this franchise, and I was there on Night One for Halloween Kills, the second offering in the trilogy.
PREVIOUSLY ON MICHAEL MYERS: We meet Laurie’s daughter (Karen) and grand-daughter… um… hold on…
ALLYSON! That’s her name. In the movie I just watched twelve hours ago. It’s Allyson! Memorable, impactful Allyson.
Karen hates Laurie for raising her in terror and has all but abandoned her mom. Allyson wants a relationship with grandma as she prepares to graduate high school. Meanwhile, some podcasters (hey…) piss off an institutionalized Michael Myers, and a car accident (possibly architected by Laurie?) sets him free. Some people die and Allyson’s boyfriend dumps her.
Anyway… the Strode women successfully lure Michael into a trap and set Laurie’s home ablaze, leaving Michael to burn alive. Because when you start a trilogy by leaving the antagonist in a death trap, surely we will all buy that he dies.
Somehow, he does not! But you’ve seen the trailers. Michael escapes as the firefighters arrive and continues to wreck havoc as Laurie’s family rides to the hospital to tend to her wounds.
How do events progress from there? Well…
Jesus Christ, there is… A LOT going on in this movie. It’s got a whole slew of goings-on, and it makes it all feel substantially longer than it’s 106 minute runtime. After it ended, I’d have bet you money it exceeded two hours.
The movie actually takes its sweet time getting to Michael and the fire, deciding instead to start off back in 1978. We see how Michael was captured the night he vanished from Laurie’s back yard. He ends up cornered by two cops in his old house. As he chokes one to death, the other–Hawkins, who was attacked by the evil doctor and left for dead last movie–accidentally shot his partner and killed him.
Then Michael just… goes outside and surrenders to the cops.
We DO get a pretty rad CGI 1978 Dr. Loomis, doing Dr. Loomis things like screaming “DID MICHAEL KILL AGAIN?!”. And I don’t care if its CGI or not, crazy ass Dr. Loomis is Halloween comfort food, and it makes me happy.
“OFFICER HAWKINS, DID MICHAEL KILL AGAIN?!”
Good stuff. You are missed, Mr. Pleasance.
Anyway, yeah, the firefighters arrive at Laurie’s compound and accidentally free Michael, who was hiding from the flames in her gun closet before they arrived. He then makes the SHORTEST of work of the team because they line up to fight him one at a time like dumb movie minions.
Oh yeah, were you hoping that in 2021–TWENTY FIVE YEARS after Scream lampooned them for the world to see–we’d be done with Slasher Characters Being Abject Morons? NOPE! Plenty of that going on here.
Okay, I have to stop this article from being 8000 words long. What else happens?
Michael kills, like, a LOT of people. The firefighters. An elderly couple. The couple living in his old home (and this couple, Big John and Little John, are the absolute high points of the movie, and I wish the whole flick had just been about them. They were charming and funny and just made everything feel less dire for a while). The nurse from the night he escaped WAY back in 1978. A married couple just out on the town.
Just… so. Many. People. But there is a reason for that!
The movie sidelines Laurie for its runtime, as she is recovering in the hospital from her wounds. Hawkins is found alive and put in the same room as her, and they confess their feelings for each other. Awww. Also, after he killed his own partner that night in 1978, Hawkins stopped Loomis and the police from gangland-style executing Michael.
Tommy Doyle–the boy Laurie was babysitting in 1978 and now played by That Guy From The Dead Zone On USA, I Think?–finds out Michael is on the loose, and he whips the town into a frenzy as they storm about chanting “MAKE HADDONFIELD GREAT AGA–“, wait that’s not it.
“EVIL DIES TONIGHT”.
That is what they are chanting. Not the first thing I said.
The angry mob kills an innocent man–another escapee from the institution after the car accident–despite Karen’s best efforts to save him when she realizes he isn’t Michael (probably by the tell-tale signs that this guy is 5’4, 250 lbs, and MICHAEL’S FACE WAS ON TV EARLIER IN THE NIGHT, SO WHY DO THE REST OF THESE IDIOTS THINK THIS GUY IS HIM).
Allyson joins the angry mob, her ex, and his father on the hunt, and they track Michael to his old house.
It turns out Michael just wants to look out his window, guys.
Seriously, that is outright stated in the movie. He just wants to be in his home and look out his old window.
It… it feels like he could have been doing that in 1978, right?
Karen saves Allyson from Michael by luring the killer into the mob who proceeds to beat the living fuck out of him. Just wailing on him with weapons. It’s pretty awesome and fulfilling, really.
(While it lasts)
Because after they get Michael down, they remember their training from the Haddonfield Firefighters Combat Manual. They let Michael get up, whereupon they attack him one at a time so he can kill them all. Including Tommy.
While this is going on, we get a monologue from Laurie in the hospital supposing that Michael feeds on death, and that the more he kills, the more powerful he becomes. So I guess they kind of confirmed in this timeline that Michael is magical and not just a really durable dude? Which is nice to know. I mean, the Zombie movies never did us the same courtesy.
The movie, which has spent a chunk of its time hinting that Karen may become the next The Shape–her succumbing to anger and violence after being distraught she couldn’t save the inmate, leading to her staring blankly out of Michael’s old window after she stabbed him with his own knife and left him to the mob–then has Michael kill Karen to close out.
Oops! Character development go down the hole.
Seriously, what a fumble at the goal-line that was.
So you’ve got a movie that is trying to balance several subplots going on at once, having little success at it, and feeling much longer than it’s run time. So how was it?
Somehow not terrible.
I mean, the movie is nonsense, don’t get me wrong. But unlike 2018, it feels like it KNOWS it’s nonsense this time. There are actually some laughs to be had here; everything with Big John and Little John is gold. And when the movie decides not to be nonsense, it often still works! The kills are intense and scary. And the scene with Karen’s character moment in the hospital is well shot and emotionally powerful.
This flick is CRAZY gory, since I brought up the kills by the way. They are brutal and in-your-face. I mean, I know… it’s a Halloween sequel, what did I expect? But even by those standards, it doesn’t hold back at all. There are some devastating deaths here.
So it’s entertaining. And it’s trash. It’s entertaining trash. It’s not good, but it also didn’t make me nearly as mad as the 2018 start to this trilogy did.
(Well, I guess the ending cheesed me off when I thought the movie had been building to go in one very interesting direction, but then swerved so as to avoid making me REALLY want to see Halloween Ends right away)
((But it was still far better than Michael’s doctor’s heel turn))
How does it leave me feeling for Halloween Ends? Lukewarm. I’ll see it, of course, but I’m not dying for it. Like how I wasn’t dying for this, yet I still saw it opening night. I think the more I dwell on the ending to this movie–maybe moreso on how it DIDN’T end–the more disappointed I will get. We shall see.