TUCSON, Ariz. — "Halloween Kills" is a mixed trick-or-treat bag. It's clearly geared toward fans of the first movies who can recite lines and scenes like scripture.
Those who appreciate all the references and historic reverence will soak the film up.
Anyone who wants to be thrilled or chilled by the story itself is in for a rougher ride. The film is more of a museum piece than an invigorating reinvention of a stalwart horror franchise.
Having dodged his latest apparent fiery death, William Shatner mask-wearing killer Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney) is back to live his best life, which involves ending the best lives of others.
Three generations of women contend with the family threat. The OG is Myers' sister, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), and her daughter, Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak) carry on the family tradition of bravery and cunning in the face of constant attacks from the family's black sheep.
Trying to capitalize on the momentum of the stellar 2018 semi-reboot, director David Gordon Green goes all-in on 1970s nostalgia, digging up just about all cast members who played surviving characters. The result is a deep sense of heritage that pays a loving tribute to the franchise's origins.
The issue is that in staying true to the past, the story becomes too rigid to move forward in a meaningful way. Maybe the biggest problem is Myers himself, who seems to be grasping at the bottom of his bag of tricks. His appearances insight more ennui than terror.
As a result, the movie is almost never scary. It's helpful that there is more meat on these bones than that of the average slasher flick. There are passing efforts to probe inside Myers' psychology, as well as that of the people he terrorizes. Like the 2018 film, this is a thinking person's horror film.
The upshot, though, is that the film is slow and perfunctory at times.
Even Curtis, who provided so much energetic pathos in the 2018 film, seems worn down and going through the motions, just like her brother. When they confront each other, they have vacant, tired looks that seem to speak, "Maybe we're too old for this shtick."
Maybe we all are.
RATING: 2.5 stars out of 4.