Synopsis – The saga of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode comes to a spine-chilling climax in this final installment of the franchise.
My Take – Back in 2018, director David Gordon Green‘s Halloween not only proved to be a genre defining sequel to filmmaker John Carpenter‘s 1978 classic and a resounding success, it also increased the anticipation around direction in which Laurie and Michael Myers’s story would take in the next two entries of the proposed trilogy.
And while 2021’s Halloween Kills found immediate criticism for containing all the hallmarks of an incomplete middle entry, I personally found the film to be an enjoyably efficient follow-up which, true to its title, doubled up the brutality, offered some satisfying nods to the 1978 original and left enough to conclude the Myers/Strode rematch trilogy in the next year’s final chapter.
To my surprise, in the name of a supposed final entry what we end up getting served is one of the strangest sequels ever made. A rushed finale that skips over important character development, kind of just forgets about plot points from its predecessors, and ends up betraying what made this reboot series worth watching in the first place.
Sure, it is ambitious and tries to stand out, but despite strong performances from Jamie Lee Curtis and franchise newcomer Rohan Campbell, director David Gordon Green and co-writers Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier and Danny McBride’s larger exploration of evil and trauma ultimately falls short, introducing so many ideas that it quickly abandons, while forgetting about the one thing it was always supposed to be about – a fun slasher flick.
Yes, there are some memorable kills and reverence for the franchise at large, but it stumbles as it brings it to a close, ending on a somewhat confused, sour note.
Picking up four years after the events of Halloween Kills, the story once again follows Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) who is finally determined to live her life, as Michael Myers (Nick Castle/James Jude Courtney) seems to have disappeared in the aftermath of his massacre. Having bought a new home in Haddonfield, she lives trap free with her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), still dealing with the loss her daughter, Karen (Judy Greer).
But while Laurie may be known as the town’s resident freak show, the town finds itself a new target of scorn in Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell), a young man whose promising life derailed in 2019, when a babysitter gig on Halloween night ended in shocking tragedy. And when Corey finds his path crossing with that of both the Strode family and Michael Myers, it sets off a chain of events in motion that brings the Boogeyman back to Haddonfield leading to yet another cascade of violence and terror.
If the first two films explored how trauma affects a family and a community, this one focuses on how trauma can mutate and form destructive cycles. Despite this entire trilogy supposedly riding on the shoulders of Laurie Strode and her trauma, here, writers Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, Danny McBride, and Green frame the trilogy’s conclusion around Corey. It chronicles the inciting event that derailed his life and his present as the browbeaten pariah who can’t catch a break.
Through him, director Green further explores the overarching themes of infectious, nebulous wrath and evil, and the town of Haddonfield is crueler than ever. Because this is mostly Corey’s story, some of the more established, returning players become nothing more than avatars to Ends’ themes; their personalities shift based on narrative need. Laurie especially has become more of a trauma dump for everyone.
Multiple characters, including Laurie’s granddaughter, Allyson guilt Laurie into thinking that somehow Michael’s return was her fault for obsessing over him, despite multiple character witnesses like Allyson herself, knowing otherwise. The tonal shift borders on victim-shaming, and a complete betrayal to what was supposed to be the core of the first two films.
But most surprisingly, the film is unusually Michael Myers-free affair. Where’s the big guy? He’s lurking in the sewers while a completely different drama plays out, one we’re supposed to be just as into. There is, of course, an actual confrontation between Laurie and Michael, one that arrives too little too late after an hour of following Corey.
There are some cool and gruesome kills, but most of them happen off screen or are purposefully undermined by staging. Where Halloween Kills was a brutal slasher that seemed to place us in the shoes of the Shape, director David Gordon Green tries everything he can to subvert the primal origins of the premise. There’s almost a sense of shame hanging over the entire film. In the end, director Green’s trilogy goes out more with a sizzle than a bang, not so much out of ideas as lacking in energy.
Performance wise, Jamie Lee Curtis continues to remind us why Laurie Strode is still one of the greatest final girl characters of all time. Rohan Campbell makes for a sympathetic lead, who has become trapped in a web of blame and guilt that is constantly forced on him by society. Campbell’s portrayal of Corey effectively engenders the sympathy the film wants you to feel for him, and when his character’s arc pivots, it’s his performance that makes that shift feel earned and supported by everything we’ve seen so far.
Andi Matichak also gives a good performance as someone struggling with the events of her life. James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle embody The Shape truly, while Will Patton provides excellent support. On the whole, ‘Halloween Ends’ is a polarizing and strange conclusion to a classic horror franchise.
Directed – David Gordon Green
Rated – R
Run Time – 111 minutes