A Double Feature Review!
As someone who loved the 2018 picture, Halloween Kills was definitely a frustrating horror movie. Messy and chaotic in both its writing and directing. Not terrible, but also not great. There is a good story buried somewhere deep inside this film. You'll hear the phrase "evil dies tonight" over a dozen times in Halloween Kills until it drives you freakin' crazy. Coming off the success of 2018's Halloween, writer-director David Gordon Green's (Pineapple Express, Joe, and Stronger) follow-up sequel comes off as a bit of a disappointment. Halloween Kills is an incredibly safe horror picture that dives headfirst into the mythology of Michael Myers, AKA The Shape (James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle). While there are now 12 Halloween movies to this 40-year slasher franchise, 2018's Halloween wiped the slate clean and retconned all previous Halloween sequels. Instead, the 2018 picture is a direct sequel to the original 1978 classic (also named Halloween). This was a bit of a gamble that Green and writer-actor Danny McBride were doing, but it paid off in the end. 2018's Halloween was a brilliant slasher feature.
They went back to the basics of low-key slasher ingredients to build up the tension and terror. This was also something that John Carpenter and Debra Hill's 1978 masterpiece did. The original Halloween had almost no gore and was incredibly effective in its ability to scare you. Jump to Halloween Kills, and Green and McBride decide (for some reason) to throw everything that previously worked out the window. They rack up the body count this time around, while also taking a deep dive into The Shape's possible supernatural abilities. So, we are minutes after the previous entry, where Laurie Strode (a strong Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (a wonderful Judy Greer), and granddaughter Allyson (a great Andi Matichak) thought they had left Michael Myers caged and burning inside Laurie's basement. Once again, he escapes and slaughters about a dozen firemen. Laurie is rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries; after being slashed in the stomach from the previous film. Sadly, this keeps Curtis' role pretty limited, while she goes on long random rants and monologues throughout the movie.
As Michael's bloodbath and rampage continue on Halloween night, the town decides to ban together and take down the monster. Green brings back some nostalgic characters from the original film: like Tommy Doyle (now played by Anthony Michael Hall), Lindsey Wallace (Kyle Richards reprised her role), Leigh Brackett (Charles Cyphers reprised his role), and Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens reprised her role). The sequel focuses heavily on Tommy's perspective and examines the role of mob mentality in the era of Trumpism. I felt like this aspect was a decent idea on script, but it needed to be better developed through the final product. Overall, the mob topic was poorly executed, heavy-handed, and came off a bit flimsy. The movie also heavily relies on recreating flashback scenes and adding new ones from the original 1978 film. While adding some substantial nostalgic nods to the franchise and fan service (Season of the Witch masks), Halloween Kills' story actually goes nowhere.
It's a frustrating horror picture to watch and examine as it wrestles with what it is actually trying to say and accomplish. The overall outcome is a tad half-baked and tedious. This is definitely a middle chapter movie of Green's Halloween reboot trilogy. But, I will give all of the actors a thumbs up, as their acting chops kept me engaged throughout. Also, the incredible score by Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies will also seep into your mind. Plus, the practical effects and makeup in the film's flashback sequences deserve high praise all on their own. Halloween Kills is not the worst Halloween movie out there (looking at you Resurrection and Rob Zombie), but it is sadly both chaotic and weak in its storytelling. Halloween Kills is an angry movie that goes full Rambo in both its kills and gore. We will have to see how this new trilogy concludes with Halloween Ends (2022) next October. For now, evil doesn't die, and it slashes at anything and everything in its way. One final note, long live Big John and Little John (Scott MacArthur and Michael McDonald).
Halloween Kills is rated R (Restricted) Language | Grisly Images | Some Drug Use | Strong Bloody Violence.
I ranked all 12 Halloween movies. Click Here!
Stream it on Peacock Premium or watch it in theaters.
Directed by David Gordon Green
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Thomas Mann, and Anthony Michael Hall.
Censor is bloody good — a slow-burning character study shown through artistic beauty and thought-provoking themes. One will fall down the rabbit hole to an eerie work of art and British horror. Censor is a balancing act of gory horror, media consumption, and mental health. Welsh filmmaker Prano Bailey-Bond's directorial debut will send chills down your spine and break your psyche. This psychological horror feature is a grand spooky picture to watch this Halloween season. Censor turns the clocks back to the 1980s, where we follow Enid (a fierce Niamh Algar), a film censor who works at the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) during the height of the Video Nasty controversy. Video Nasty was a time in the United Kingdom where low-budget horror and exploitation films found a loophole in their distribution of video cassettes (VHS). These films were able to bypass the BBFC's reviewing process, causing a public uproar due to their extremely violent, graphic, and lude content.
This is where Enid's character comes into play — she watches these films and approves what should be cut or banned for their approval rating. Hint at the film's title Censor. Yet, Enid is also dealing with past trauma of her own. Her sister, Nina, went missing when they were both children. Enid's parents believe that Nina is dead, but Enid is not convinced. Because Enid spends all of her time watching these extremely gory and uncomfortable movies, her mental health begins to spiral. Bailey-Bond then paints a brilliant portrait of Enid's mind as she begins to blend fiction with reality, losing sight of what is real and what is not. After Enid view's an old film from a veteran horror director named Frederick North (Adrian Schiller), she watches a scene that parallels a distant memory of her and her sister.
This discovery convinces Enid that the movie actress, Alice Lee (played by Sophia La Porta), is her real missing sister, Nina. That is as far as I will go into this juicy plot. Bailey-Bond weaves two stories (the missing sister and media consumption) together until they combine into a force to be reckoned with. As Enid's mental health begins to suffer, we see someone who is engulfed with fear and paranoia. While the story comes off as a bit uneven at times, the third act effectively mixes them, unleashing a fever dream of brilliant terror. Through the versatile lighting of neon reds and greens, distorted aspect ratios, and a bloody surprise, we are left with one of the finest horror pictures to come out in 2021. Bold, meticulous, and hazy, Censor will get under your skin. In the end, it's a film permanently ingrained to your mind.
Censor is not rated (NR)
Stream it now on Hulu for their Huluween.
Directed by Prano Bailey-Bond
Starring Niamh Algar, Nicholas Burns, Vincent Franklin, Sophia La Porta, Adrian Schiller, and Michael Smiley.
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