Directed by David Gordon Green — Screenplay by Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, Danny McBride, and David Gordon Green.
Do bankable film franchises really end? These days it really doesn’t feel like it. Horror franchises, like other genre franchises, can be brought back to life again and again and again. Heck, these days reboots can just ignore several films that came before and chose to only acknowledge one or two films in the franchise, and audiences will still accept it. So, well, regardless of what happens in this film, does anyone truly believe that Halloween will really end? This skepticism is coming from a guy who thought this franchise probably should’ve ended with Steve Miner’s Halloween H20, which I liked. Honestly, I would’ve been fine with them ending it after the 2018 reboot.
Because let’s be honest, this — 2018, Halloween Kills, and this film — shouldn’t have been a trilogy. It should’ve just been that one ‘Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode a la Sarah Connor’ film to end the franchise with a bad-ass one-on-one confrontation. But then some higher-up probably wanted more, and so we got a pretty awful and aimless middle part, in Halloween Kills, and now, with Halloween Ends, a really messy conclusion that both wants to live up to the promise of the 2018 film and try something new. It doesn’t completely work, but I admire the attempt.
David Gordon Green’s Halloween Ends mostly takes place four years after the events of Halloween Kills. In spite of the events of the previous two films, Laurie Strode (played by Jamie Lee Curtis) has let go of her obsession and has instead decided to write a book and ignore that Michael Myers is somewhere out there. Meanwhile, Corey Cunningham (played by Rohan Campbell), a nerdy outcast with a tragic past, is thrown off a bridge by violent bullies, and then he meets the so-called ‘Shape’ inside of a sewage drain. This encounter changes the course of his life drastically.
Inspired by such films as Christine, IT, and Scream 3, Halloween Ends succeeds in areas that I didn’t expect to be there, but, in a way, it fails where everyone expected it to work. What I mean by this is that everyone expected this to be the big final one-on-one confrontation between Laurie Strode and Michael Myers but, here’s the thing, that isn’t really what this movie is. Rather, all that stuff feels tacked on, or shoehorned in, in the final act. One of the reasons why is that the time jump in the film isn’t the only major change from Kills to Ends, Laurie Strode is also a completely different character from the Sarah Connor-inspired PTSD-stricken warrior from the 2018 reboot. In spite of the fact that Michael Myers survived and that Laurie lost her daughter at the end of Halloween Kills, Laurie seems to have completely moved on from what had previously been her singular obsession for forty years in 2018. It felt extremely contrived to me that this character moved on but the entire local community had taken ownership of her previous obsession. This isn’t to say that the eventual fight between Strode and Myers is all bad, rather it is actually perfectly fine, but, like I said, it is somewhat shoehorned in (probably to appease audiences expecting more of the same), and, even though it ends in a relatively satisfying way, the film doesn’t reach the full potential of that kind of ending. It feels kind of dull, ultimately.
This isn’t the only problem. Allyson (played by Andi Matichak), Laurie’s granddaughter, is basically just a plot device meant to bring the action closer to Laurie Strode, and Jamie Lee Curtis has this running narration with commentary on the nature of evil that can feel somewhat generic. Like the previous films, some of the dialogue is also really strange. There are tonally inconsistent lines that lack seriousness, and other lines that just feel really cheap (“If I can’t have her, no one can.”).
I do want to get into what I think actually works about the film, but to do that I will have to discuss some spoilers. Because, again, what works here is the central twist of the film, which is that this isn’t really the story of Michael Myers or Laurie Strode. Instead, it feels more appropriate to say that this is the story of how evil can be contagious, passed on, or brought about. And all of this concerns the major new character introduced in this film and that is Corey Cunningham. This is his story, which is certainly a choice given this was supposed to be the big finale for two of American horror’s most established characters, and I think that’s ultimately a good thing because this is the only element in these last two films that goes in an interesting and relatively new direction.
The opening sequence that is centered on a genuinely horrifying accident is a shocker and does a brilliant job of setting the table for one of the film’s larger themes, which is concerned with how the people around you — a town, a local community — can inadvertently create the very monsters that plague them. As the film moves forward, what the film does with his character feels genuinely refreshing. Focusing on how the effect of Myers’ actions has basically created a new pariah, and potential monster, in the community is a really smart thing for a reboot of the franchise to do. However, I do think it is a little late to do this. There is no denying that they should’ve planted the seeds for Corey Cunningham in the previous two films, because, now that they haven’t, it just makes this film make less sense as the final part of an alleged franchise-ending film. But the way his inclusion changed things up made me hopeful that the franchise could go on to focus on Season of the Witch-esque Halloween spin-offs that actually do something different.
What they do with Cunningham leads to the film’s best moments, such as how the most violent scenes in the film are built around a team-up. But there are also some clumsy elements in his story. After his encounter with Myers, Corey Cunningham’s glow-up — a twisted Peter Parker-to-Spider-Man-like character transformation from nerdy young man to a psychotic bad boy — can feel a little bit silly and his relationship with Allyson — again, very much a plot device — feels somewhat unbelievable.
David Gordon Green’s deceptively marketed Halloween Ends is a very messy conclusion to a trilogy that now feels utterly aimless and unplanned, and the film’s relatively appropriate ending feels shoehorned in. It suffers significantly from its radically different and quite ridiculous and unbelievable new characterization of Laurie Strode, but the film also introduces a new major character into the franchise, whose inclusion is easily the most fascinating and refreshing thing about the film. However, this new inclusion turns it into a film that it wasn’t really marketed as, so it will infuriate some fans. It’s too messy and the writing is too all over the place for me to be able to call it a good movie, but I will say that I kind of enjoyed it and that it is a marked improvement over Halloween Kills. I just find it hard to believe that they’ll leave this franchise alone. It is an end but probably not the end for Halloween.
5.7 out of 10
– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.