David Gordon Green
Four years after the events of the previous instalment, Laurie [Curtis] has tried to move on and live a normal life, in a normal home, while documenting her experiences in a book. But playing “normal” doesn’t come easy to Laurie because no matter how hard she tries, the echos of the Meyers attacks follow her. Meanwhile her granddaughter, Allyson [Matichak], starts a new relationship with Corey [Campbell] – a young man who was responsible for the accidental death of a child he was babysitting, and has since been made a pariah in Haddonfield. Now, you may be asking what has Michael Meyers [Courtney] been up to all this time? Well, he’s been living in the sewers like a Ninja Turtle. And that’s where the problems start.
I closed out my Halloween Kills review musing about where this release would take the narrative journey. How would they bring this revived story to a satisfying close? And would the events within elevate the previous two movies? Suffice it to say, Halloween Ends fails to carry itself to the finish line, let alone the entire franchise. But before we dive into the individual issues, let’s take a moment to celebrate the handful of elements that excel.
As with seemingly every Halloween film that she appears in, Jamie Lee Curtis stands head-and-shoulders above the crowd. Believable, commanding and emotionally charged yet still having a lot of fun with the role. Matichak and Campbell do the best with what they’re given but due to the script, often become very frustrating to watch. And, as ever, the music (a collaboration between John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies) takes the iconic themes and elevates them with soft piano tones and a steadily marching, escalating thunder that’s surprisingly soulful at times.
The unfortunate truth is that this film carries the weight of being a full narrative in its own right, the conclusion of a reboot/sequel trilogy, as well as forty years of franchise legacy. In order to scrape by with a modicum of success, you need to not only come out swinging, but leave fans desperate for more. But Halloween Ends is the literal embodiment of ending with a whimper rather than a bang. Thanks to a significant amount of lethargic setup, shambling to a very mediocre finale.
**spoilers from this point until the final paragraph**
In truth, there’s an odd, dreamlike air running throughout the film, with immense pacing issues and key events being neglected. The movie opens with a narrated declaration that the entirety of Haddonfield was struck with a sickness; a fear which had them seeing the shadow of Michael in every murder, suicide or break in. It’s an understandable direction and a logical conclusion. All to naturally outcast Corey, rather than give him the emotional and psychological support for his part in a child’s death. But this so quickly pivots to a strange complacency, to the extent that when this latest murder streak rips through the town, it’s barely felt. And, in 2022 the various murders clumsily committed by Corey would have been immediately solved: his finger prints are on everything, he makes no attempt to produce alibis and the townsfolk are largely against him anyway. But despite this, the police and the town at large, play next to no part in the events themselves. Now, one could argue that this is down to the time frame, but unlike Halloween (1978), Halloween (2018) and Halloween Kills, this film takes place over a longer, more fuzzy and undefined period of time.
And this would be partly forgivable, knocking the film down to a 2/5, but there’s another element at play, one which absolutely killed the film for me. Much like Halloween Kills, there’s an interesting semblance of a theme – namely that a town rocked by collective grief and trauma can’t simply escape the paranoia and anguish that follows. This is built upon by illustrating how those negative feelings can be collectively aimed in the wrong direction, leading to those who require genuine help being pushed further away. Which very strongly challenges the knee-jerk accusation that victims are somehow to blame for what happens to them. Laurie cannot be happy because she is still held responsible for goading Michael. Corey can never escape the tragedy that he was a part of. And Allyson is a socially awkward plaything and punchline to others, despite losing her mother and friends to these events. Such is the lasting and inescapable horror that these characters face daily. So what does the film do? It introduces Corey to Michael.
Having spent so long, building a nuanced and contemporary alternate outlook, Halloween Ends throws it all away for a schlocky gimmick. In an attempt to muse how someone could end up on a path like Michael Meyers, they took the most painful, first draft route: making Corey Michael’s apprentice. And it feels really stupid. Not to mention, predicating the “those who have suffered trauma go on to inflict it on others” myth. But the real narrative issue is that the unpredictable ungovernable Michael Meyers readily teams up with Corey. Part of the mystique of Meyers is that he is unknowable. A truly unreachable, psychopathic, almost inhuman presence, and the absolute worst of us as a species. But we, as audience members, sympathise with Corey. So his inevitable turn to copycat killer feels somewhat unearned and distasteful.
Halloween Ends is, to say the least, a very confused film. Which is ultimately, quite surprising considering this is Green’s trilogy. Rarely are creatives given the ability to come into an established franchise like this and do whatever they like for three consecutive features. It’s one thing to try your hand with a familiar property, it’s another to map out an entire arc over three movies. And yet, with every passing release, the quality subsides. In my opinion, there’s something just under the surface with this entire sequel trilogy. A desperate attempt to say something meaningful and produce a long-reaching story that touches greatness. To the degree that, with some tweaks, I think that could be entirely possible but, as it stands, every outing disappointingly missed the mark.
14 October 2022
The Scene To Look Out For:
I can’t tell if the cold open was ingenious or ridiculous. We have been conditioned to expect a death in the movie’s opening scene. And Halloween Ends obliges. But adds a twist. Corey is reluctantly babysitting on Halloween night but the precocious kid he’s watching, torments him – implying there’s a killer in the house – before locking him in the attic. Desperate to get out, Corey rails and kicks against the door, which slams into the young boy, sending him over the balcony to his death. It’s very clearly an accident and sets the entire narrative in motion but something felt off. An indication that this movie was not going to go down the expected or usual path.
You’ll have noticed that this review has a distinct Michael Meyers shaped absence. That is, coincidentally, a reflection of the movie itself. After the egregious levels of violence and gore in the last film, Michael is very much shelved. More so, he is reduced to a completely pathetic and feeble state – which I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to, if it weren’t for the sheer unstoppable force he has been presented as to date. His return, showdown with the leads and ultimate conclusion all feel somewhat unceremonious and shrug-worthy. Which will no doubt infuriate fans and casual viewers.
“You can be mad. You can be mad and smash things but be careful. It’s addictive.”
In A Few Words:
“In an attempt to say something of note, this story ends on the dampest of squibs.”
Total Score: 1/5