I understand that I am ridiculously late to the party with this review, but I initially wasn't planning on watching this film. The rocky reception that this film got discouraged me from giving it a watch, at least for the time being. But with it being Halloween as I am writing this, I decided to give it a fair shot.
For the most part, this ended up being more or less what I was expecting in terms of quality. It isn't the worst thing I've ever seen, but it's nothing to get too excited about either. It feels like David Gordon Green and Danny McBride decided to slap some stuff together and hope for the best. What we get is a film with even more of an unevenness in tone than the 2018 film. It wants to be a more serious affair, and focus on the underlying trauma of the characters and a good old-fashioned slasher, but it doesn't quite achieve that.
As a continuation of 2018's Halloween, it does kind of work. By this, I mean that it does a good job structurally of continuing the narrative that was started in the previous film. The problem is that the events of Halloween Kills aren't all that exciting. It relies heavily on the kills, which kicks the blood and gore up a notch from the last movie. The kills aren't all that bad, but there's so little happening around them that the film feels lacking. There is some potential for the film to explore some interesting themes, but it doesn't seem all that interested in that for much of the film. It introduces the survivors of Michael Myers's attacks and the trauma they suffer from pretty early on, and there are some decent things that they do with this plotline, but it feels so slight all things considered. The themes of trauma are explored well in some areas, but also lacks any nuance or substance in others. At least there are some good actors, specifically Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, and Will Patton that keep things afloat, but the film is also crowded with a large cast of characters that end up minimizing their screen time quite a bit.
I can respect the film for wanting to focus more on being a slasher, but it does make its attempts to be more than that seem more glaring and it's easier to find the faults in them. So far in this new trilogy, the biggest issue I seem to have is how imbalanced the tone is. The 2018 movie is a bit better in this aspect, but it still feels a little off in regards to what kind of movie it wants to be. There are ways to achieve the balance in tone that both of these films want to, but it feels like David Gordon Green just doesn't know how to pull it off. It pains me to say that because I generally like Green as a director, but I'm not sure if these movies are a good match for him. He is able to pull off certain moments in both films, but I just think that the films would work better overall in the hands of a different director.
All of this being said, I didn't necessarily hate the film. I definitely have some issues with it, but it's one of those films that just is what it is. It's the middle chapter of a trilogy, and it felt like Green and company were just unsure of how to bridge the gap between the first entry and the upcoming third one. Of course, this is just speculation, given that I won't know this for sure until Halloween Ends comes out. As a slasher, it mostly works, but it's quite a step down from the 2018 film overall. I have a shred of hope that the third film will end everything on a good note, but after seeing Halloween Kills, I know I'll be keeping my expectations low.