You can't go wrong for trick-or-treat season by reconnecting with Jamie Lee Curtis for a new chapter in the horror series that made her a star at 19 in John Carpenter's 1978 "Halloween." In "Halloween Kills," now in theaters and streaming on Peacock, Curtis is back with a vengeance.
Three years ago, Curtis received some of the best reviews of her career for a "Halloween" remake directed by David Gordon Green ("All the Real Girls"), an indie renegade who pretended that 10 lame redos and sequels to Carpenter's original "never existed." Wise move.
Sadly, Curtis and Green are rehashing themselves in "Halloween Kills," which kind of ruins the surprise. It's great to see Curtis show us the Bloody Grandma that former babysitter Laurie Strode has become since masked killer Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney with help from original Michael, Nick Castle) wreaked havoc on her hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois.
But we've seen that already in Green's first "Halloween." And next year, Curtis and Green will return for "Halloween Ends," which they claim will put a capper on the Myers slasher franchise for good. That makes "Halloween Kills" little more than a place-holding middle chapter with no beginning or end or reason for being other than potential profit.
What it does have is Curtis, who nails every nuance in the role of Laurie, the PTSD-afflicted avenger whose obsession to kill the unkillable Myers had previously lost her custody of her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and estranged her from granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak).
It's a savage roar of a performance that clicks perfectly with Green's concept of the film as a feminist parable in which three women come together to call Time's Up on a male predator who keeps breaking out of a loony bin to revive his murderous ways.
The failed strategy here is keeping Laurie sidelined in a hospital where she's recovering from the stabbing injuries Myers inflicted. You can't kill Myers since he's the essence of evil. But darn it the Strode women are going to try with Big Mama cheering from the periphery.
Picking up where the last film ended, with Myers burning in a fire set by Laurie in her own house, fire trucks with sirens wailing race to put out the blaze only to find it's a trap set by Myers to slaughter them with their own equipment. That sparked a failed petition by firefighters to remove the scene as offensive.
The new characters -- an older mixed-race couple (Lenny Clarke and Diva Tyler) and a pair of gay lovers (Scott MacArthur and Michael McDonald) who live in Myers's childhood home -- barely register before they're reduced to body count.
Meanwhile, back at the hospital, Laurie and fellow Myers victim, Deputy Hawkins (Will Patton), discuss the timely theme of mob mentality and townie Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) rallies a crowd to chant, "Evil dies tonight."
That's not bloody likely since we know Myers will be back in 2022. So much for a suspense buzzkill. "Halloween Kills" gets the job done as a fun frightfest, but the inspiration of the previous movie has been replaced by rote mayhem that reduces its star to a supporting role. Curtis deserves better. So do audiences.