Movie review

In 2018, horror mogul Jason Blum revived one of the longest-running horror franchises, “Halloween,” inviting filmmaker David Gordon Green to take a spin through Haddonfield. Blum got the whole gang back together, enlisting “Halloween” auteur John Carpenter to compose one of his inimitable synthy scores, and the Final Girl herself, Jamie Lee Curtis, reprised her role as Laurie Strode, 40 years later.

The emotional core of “Halloween” 2018 was a careful examination of intergenerational trauma and hard-fought redemption. It was powerful to watch Laurie fight her longtime foe Michael Myers with her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) by her side, fulfilling Laurie’s legacy.

Green and the gang are back again with “Halloween Kills,” an attempt to widen the scope of traumatic influence that Michael has had on Haddonfield. It’s a good idea, to examine the community repercussions of Michael’s bloody destruction, and to bring back some of his original survivors., like Lindsey, one of the original babysitting charges (played in 1978 and 2021 by Kyle Richards of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”). But the execution is distressingly messy, a chaotic tangle of too many storylines.

Written by Green, Scott Teems and Danny McBride, “Halloween Kills” picks up right where “Halloween” 2018 ended, on Halloween night, as Michael’s newest victims are found. Laurie, Karen and Allyson race toward the hospital, thinking they destroyed Michael once and for all, but, well, you know how these things go. The film then expands its purview to greater Haddonfield, where some have forgotten the legend of Michael Myers (though they’ll soon know his name) and still others will never forget.

One of the best things about Carpenter’s original “Halloween” is its starkly lean efficiency, the spare style exceedingly suspenseful. That seems to be something that subsequent filmmakers in the franchise have lost sight of, and Green falls prey to that by adding far too much to the film.

There’s a single, excellent sequence in “Halloween Kills” that demonstrates what this film could have been in a far more stripped-down form, in which Michael pursues a terrified Lindsey through a park. The storyline of the original child survivors, which also includes Tommy (Anthony Michael Hall), would have been a fascinating new direction for the franchise, but “Halloween Kills” is far too muddled with a jumble of other ideas.

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A completely unnecessary flashback to 1978 presupposes that a rookie cop, Hawkins (played by Nicholas Mann and Will Patton), is to blame for letting Michael escape, after he freezes while confronting the killer. It’s a complete bizarre retcon of the original mythology that makes no sense except to create an opportunity for Laurie and Hawkins to share a moment while recovering from their Michael-inflicted wounds in the hospital.

Meanwhile, Allyson joins her boyfriend and his father, who encountered Michael as a kid, to hunt down the killer and end things for good.

What’s frustrating about “Halloween Kills” is the lack of focus. We get very little of Laurie, as she’s confined to the hospital, and far too much time with new characters, though many are sketched in almost offensively broad strokes. Cameos from actors who appeared in the original film and a series of increasingly gruesome kills serve as a perfunctory gesture toward pleasing fans and gore-hounds, though it all feels narratively hollow and emotionally bereft.

In trying to do too much, “Halloween Kills” ends up doing nothing at all, other than tarnishing this franchise’s good name.

‘Halloween Kills’ ★½ (out of four)

With Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Kyle Richards, Anthony Michael Hall, Nicholas Mann, Will Patton. Directed by David Gordon Green, from a screenplay by Green, Scott Teems and Danny McBride. 106 minutes. Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, grisly images, language and some drug use. Opens Thursday, Oct. 14, at multiple theaters and starts streaming Friday, Oct. 15, on Peacock.

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