Review: “Halloween Ends,” Thank God

The final film of this trilogy is a complete bastardization of the horror franchise that began 44 years ago

Halloween Ends is a complete and total head-scratcher. If it is, in fact, the end for this iconic horror franchise (it’s not, but let’s just pretend it is for now), then it arrives not a moment too soon, for this slasher sequel offers a complete bastardization of the series and barely qualifies as a Halloween movie at all.

Sure, it pits the ultimate final girl, Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode, against evil incarnate—Michael Myers—but their final showdown is incredibly brief considering the fact that this franchise has spent 13 movies building towards this moment and it ends with a whimper rather than a bang. I honestly feel a little sorry for the Boogeyman this time around. The same can be said for director David Gordon Green and producer Jason Blum. See, I was willing to forgive Halloween Kills, but Halloween Ends proves it was no fluke—that was the first in this trilogy, 2018’s Halloween.

When we last saw Michael Myers, he was killing Laurie’s only daughter inside his older sister’s bedroom, which is where he committed his very first murder as a young boy. In this film, he’s now living inside a drain pipe and stalking the sewers like Pennywise in that classic early scene from It.

Meanwhile, Laurie feels like a completely different character here, having mellowed out and reinvented herself as a goddess of domesticity, baking pies, and knitting. She’s also writing a memoir, allowing the script to reduce one of the greatest female heroes of all time to Carrie Bradshaw, albeit with a much more violent Mr. Big.

The big twist in Halloween Ends, which I’ll gladly reveal since the trailers pull a classic bait-and-switch, is that Michael Myers isn’t even the real villain in this movie. He’s a mentor of sorts to a young man named Corey, who was involved in a tragic accident on Halloween Night a few years back. Corey was cleared of any wrongdoing, but all of Haddonfield thinks he’s a psycho, just as they assume that Laurie is a “freak show.” With Michael Myers missing in action lately, Corey has assumed the town boogeyman role—albeit a very handsome one.

Halloween Ends
Image via Universal Pictures

Halloween Ends

Naturally, the shy and brooding Corey catches the eye of Laurie’s granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak), who works at the local hospital so she has a big heart and sees Corey as a fellow outcast. Laurie recognizes a sinister presence that she’s seen before and immediately begins following the couple—kind of like Michael Myers might. Awkward… even if her instincts prove correct.

Unfortunately for everyone, Corey and Allyson are totally in love and they want to run away together, leaving Haddonfield behind forever. But Haddonfield won’t let them go! He’s harassed at every turn, including by a member of the marching band.

Anyway, remember the Halloween villain, Michael Myers? He’s in this movie for 30 minutes or so.

Back to Corey… isn’t he dreamy? Sure, he’s capable of a little killing spree but he has his reasons, and look at his cheekbones!

That’s basically Halloween Ends in a nutshell. This film might have actually worked as a standalone Halloween movie, but it literally makes no sense as a trilogy’s final film, since it goes about tackling questions that the two prior installments never really bothered to ask. His positioning as the lead character in this film is downright bizarre! Again, I repeat, some random dude is the lead in Halloween Ends, not Laurie Strode or Michael Myers.

While Michael’s very nature has always been a bit unclear — is he human, or a supernatural entity? — I don’t remember him being able to pass along his evil, which is what this movie effectively implies. That if you stare into the face of evil long enough, you will become it, and it will become you.

Though the film does begin with a fairly suspenseful sequence (mainly because you’re waiting for Michael to appear… which he does not at this point), there is hardly any suspense found in the rest of the film, which is its primary offense in the opinion of this critic. I mean, if you make a Halloween movie without a lick of suspense, you might as well just turn in your DGA card right now. And sure, Green knows how to execute a successful jump scare. There are plenty of those in here—just not much in the way of creeping dread.

And why is that? Well, for starters, this franchise has the iconic Halloween score up its sleeve, and hardly ever breaks it out. I stayed through the end credits, during which my guest turned to me and asked, “why didn’t they play more of this music during the movie?” There are some nice shots from cinematographer Michael Simmonds, who keeps Michael in the shadows for much of the movie, but for the most part, Halloween Ends suffers from a lack of atmosphere. I guess creeping dread either cost too much or was too much to hope for.

The 111-minute film (good lord!) takes its time—too long, actually—to get to the blood, guts, and gore that most folks in the theater are there to see, though that time does help us invest in Corey’s story. And if there is a single saving grace to this movie, it’s Campbell, who actually struck me as a star in the making, with boyish looks that recall a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt (himself a veteran of the Halloween franchise). The charismatic Campbell is an ice-cold diamond in the rough here and I look forward to seeing what kinds of doors this movie opens for him.

John Carpenter’s original Halloween turned horror on its head in 1978, becoming an instant classic. Thankfully, its time has mercifully come to an end, and the next time we see Michael Myers, the property will hopefully be rebooted from the ground up, with no Strode family members in sight, as it needs completely new mythology.

I fell in love with movies by watching horror movies as a kid. The first two Halloween movies were seminal experiences for me. But all good things must come to an end, and now, thankfully, so has the Halloween franchise. I’ve seen every single installment, including a string of direct-to-video sequels, so I know just how low this franchise can go, and while Halloween Ends may not be its nadir, it’s a shocking failure nonetheless.

Thankfully, The Shape will be back, because of course he will. This is Hollywood, after all. You cannot kill the boogeyman, as he exists in our minds. The king is dead. Long live the king.

Grade: C-

Halloween Ends is now playing in theaters nationwide and streaming on Peacock.

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