Sometimes a film franchise goes out with a bang; other times, a whimper seems more appropriate. In the case of what is reported to be the final entry in the Halloween series—appropriately titled Halloween Ends—whimper seems too aggressive a word for what has happened in these three most recent films from director David Gordon Green. Ends is more like that runner limping across the finish line of a marathon who fully shit their pants a couple miles back and is just trying to make it to the end long after the rest of the pack has gone home, dignity be damned. To be clear, this most recent work is the best of Green’s three, but the damage is done. Gone are the absolutely brutal, sometimes creative kills of Halloween (2018) and last year’s Halloween Kills; everyone has fully committed to wrapping things up, so this one just feels like killing time until the highly unsatisfying final moments.
Set four years after the events of the last movie, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has mellowed out a bit, raising her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) and writing her memoir about what it’s like to face down evil time after time. The film actually opens a few years earlier with a seemingly unrelated accidental death of a young (admittedly quite nasty) child who has locked his nerdy babysitter Corey (Rohan Campbell) in a room. When Corey breaks the door down, he unknowingly knocks the poor kid down a couple stories’ worth of stairs, instantly killing him right when the kid’s parents get home from their party. Corey doesn’t go to jail, but the town (which just happens to be Haddonfield, Illinois, where Laurie lives and Michael did all his damage) turns against him in a big way, making him an introvert, forced to examine his dark thoughts closer than he should. If they’re going to call him a killer, why not act the part?
Jumping ahead to the present day, Corey meets Allyson (the two are actually gently pushed together by Laurie), and they start to fall for each other, despite having zero chemistry. At some point, Corey is beaten up by some local bullies, and he runs away into a storm drain that just happens to be the current home of the series’ killer Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney), who’s just kind of chilling in filth, letting everyone think he’s dead. But rather than kill Corey, Michael seems to synch up with him as they look into each other’s eyes. Again, the film is a bit vague about what is transpiring between the two, but some part of Michael’s dark soul seems to embed itself in Corey’s fragile self, unlocking the psycho within him.
What follows is a combination of Corey trying out this new identity as a murderer, mostly of those who have been tormenting him over the years, and Michael deciding to come out of hiding and finish whatever business he has with Laurie. The truth is Corey is such a whiny baby that I never bought him as an interesting villain. He represents yet another recent horror outing that claims to be born of trauma, but he seems like just another messed-up young person who takes on the Michael persona, instead of becoming a school shooter or something equivalent. Meanwhile, Michael is hardly in his own movie this time around (perhaps following in Laurie’s barely-there appearances in the previous film); he kills a few people, although admittedly, there are times when I couldn’t keep track of which local lumbering murderer was doing what killings.
By the time we get to the big, inevitable standoff between Laurie and Michael, I wanted everyone to be dead. I actually like the way Laurie finally tears Michael down in the climax, reducing him from some unstoppable, pseudo-supernatural monster to an old man who simply feels no remorse and is driven to kill everyone he meets (except, sadly Corey). I was never quite sure I understood Laurie’s obsession with ripping off Michael’s mask since we know the filmmakers will never show us his face, but she gets to do it again, so prepare to not be shown Michael’s face one more time.
Despite a few nice touches along the way, mostly scenes between Laurie and Allyson, as well as Laurie and a would-be suitor in returning Officer Hawkins (Will Patton), Halloween Ends is dull, unsatisfying stuff. I’m glad Curtis gets to end on high note for her character—she’s always good and noticeably elevates this sketchy material—but I’m happy to be done with Halloween (until somebody decides it needs to come back). It never got better than it was in 1978, and the meat has fully been picked clear from the bones of John Carpenter and Debra Hill’s creation.
The film is now playing theatrically and streaming on Peacock.
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