By George Bate and Josh Reilly B.
David Gordon Green and Danny McBride revived interest in Michael Myers and the Halloween franchise with their 2018 film. Their Halloween was to Halloween (1978) what The Force Awakens was to the original Star Wars (1977) – a film that excelled in leaning heavily in nostalgia and replicated the structure of the original. With Halloween Kills, Michael Myers continued his rampage through Haddonfield in a film that excelled as a straightforward slasher film. In this sense, Halloween (2018) and Halloween Kills succeeded, but couldn’t exactly be lauded for their originality.
This is not the case with Halloween Ends.
The conclusion to the informally dubbed ‘H40 Trilogy’ is marked by its novelty and unpredictability that, while commendable for its boldness, ultimately misses the mark.
Halloween Ends picks up four years after the events of Halloween (2018) and Halloween Kills. Haddonfield is a town still reeling from the trauma of Michael Myers’ rampage. Laurie Strode (once again played by the original scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis) and her granddaughter Allyson (played by Andi Matichak) have moved on from the violence that killed so many of their loved ones and live in relative peace. This peace eventually comes to an end when Michael Myers reappears and strikes havoc in new, unexpected ways.
The above synopsis, which is, admittedly, quite broad, sounds like the archetypal Halloween movie. Laurie Strode lives her life in Haddonfield, until Michael Myers shows up and causes mayhem. But, Halloween Ends is far from an archetypal Halloween movie. Fittingly, its opening credits use the blue italicized font of the cult classic Halloween III: Season of the Witch, the sci-fi horror film about an ancient Celtic ritual and Halloween masks that kill that did not feature the series’ star Michael Myers. While Halloween Ends does not depart from the series as starkly as Halloween III, it is the most different, thematically, narratively, and structurally, from all other installments of the franchise. Rob Zombie’s divisive Halloween and Halloween II, while stylistically entirely different from the world created by John Carpenter and replicated by his successors, plays by certain rules of Halloween movies and slasher movies more broadly that David Gordon Green and colleagues entirely abandon here.
This departure from the Halloween formula makes for a film that is wildly unpredictable from scene to scene and feels unlike anything featured in the franchise to date. Unfortunately, Halloween Ends doesn’t stick the landing.
As a conclusion to the trilogy, the film feels misplaced. While themes introduced in Halloween (2018) and Halloween Kills about trauma and the nature of evil continue to be explored, Halloween Ends does so in a manner that feels like it is part of an entirely different narrative at times. The introduction of Rohan Campbell as Corey Cunningham, essentially (and very surprisingly) the main character in Halloween Ends, is jarring and displaces the focus away from Laurie and Allyson too much. Much of Halloween Ends rests on the relationship between Corey and Allyson, a bond that is abruptly formed and never feels natural. It’s not an issue with either actor’s performance, but, rather, a conceptual issue with the film’s script that is never reconciled.
Viewers less interested in the depths of the Halloween franchise though may enjoy Halloween Ends as a subversive, slow-paced horror film. Green takes his time setting up all of the different plot threads and characters before letting the blood flow in the film’s final act. The ‘slasher’ elements of this slasher film are considerably downplayed compared to Halloween (2018) and especially Halloween Kills. Instead, Halloween Ends plays more as a contemplative, cerebral horror film about evil.
It’s difficult to discuss a Halloween movie without talking about Michael Myers (and, in turn, Laurie Strode). The latter is brought to life again by the brilliant Jamie Lee Curtis, who delivers some terrific one-liners and is, despite a somewhat unusual character transformation, the bad ass fans have adored since 1978. Her evil counterpart in Michael Myers is a different story. In many ways, Halloween Ends is a film more about the effect of Michael Myers than a film about Michael Myers. Yes, Myers is a fixture in the film and executes some particularly brutal kills. But his role in the film’s narrative, while certainly a bold choice from the filmmakers, is ultimately lacking.
Despite its flaws, Halloween Ends is commendable for its ambition. And simply for the fact that it’s another Halloween movie. There’s something about watching a Michael Myers film in the middle of October, as the leaves change, the temperature drops, and the spooky season kicks in, that never really gets old. That is to say, Halloween Ends is still a Halloween movie and, as such, delivers in evoking the brilliantly spooky Halloween atmosphere.
Halloween Ends is commendable for its boldness, novelty, and ambition, but, ultimately, misses the mark. It departs from the Halloween formula more than any other film in the franchise featuring Michael Myers (yes, even more so than Rob Zombie’s films), which makes for a movie that is excitingly unpredictable from scene-to-scene and never ceases to surprise. Unlike its predecessors in the H40 trilogy, Halloween Ends plays more as a slow-burn contemplative, cerebral horror film about the nature of evil – more about the effect of Michael Myers than about Michael Myers. Halloween Ends will undoubtedly yield divisive reactions from fans and critics and, despite its flaws, should be praised for its bravery in departing so radically from a Halloween film.
Halloween Ends is now in theaters and streaming on Peacock.