After a strong start with the 2018 Halloween; a franchise stripping legacy sequel that peeled back the series it its barest bones, David Gordon Green’s sequel was met by harsher criticism than one of Michael Myer’s bloody crime scenes. The issue seemingly was that Halloween Kills’ game attempt to have his continuation be a slightly clumsy metaphor for the dangerous futility of mob mentality split fans like a kitchen knife in the skull with many debates still raging to this day.
I personally felt that alongside its plethora of insanely violent deaths and unique (in the slasher genre anyway) approach to the socially corrosive nature of undetected fear and hate is often ingenious, yet is constantly hampered by overblown performances (if I never hear anyone scream “EVIL DIES TONIGHT” ever again, it’ll still be too soon), awkwardly on the nose dialogue and a stubbon, but impressive resistance to doing what is expected (no Laurie vs. Shape). However, with Green’s supposed franchise closer (I’ll believe it when I see it, thanks), the Blumhouse era of the Halloween franchise has a very real shot of ending on a high.
The end is nigh, people.
Four years has passed since Michael Myers’ second extended rampage tore the town of Haddonfield a new asshole and in that time, Michael’s sudden disappearance and the subsequent lack of closure has led to fear, hate and despair causing its inhabitants to become people ruled by paranoia. However, a year after Myers blipped off the scene, a terrible, freak accident involving shy teen babysitter Corey Cunningham gives the traumatised townsfolk a new scapegoat to shun and bully.
However, one person who has decided to not to live in the shadow of Michael Myers anymore is Laurie Strode, despite the fact that Michael’s final victim that fateful night was her own daughter. Living with her granddaughter, Allyson, in a house noticably bereft of booby traps and a self destruct device, Laurie is writing her memoirs and even tries to effect a little healing when she sets Allyson up with Corey who is still the introverted pariah.
However, years of mistreatment from random townsfolk has left Corey in an emotionally vunerable place and his pendulum swings in a potentially dangerous direction when he stumbles across the hiding place of a noticably weakened Michael, whose rampaging days seem far behind him and who’s retirement plan seems to involve hanging out in a drain.
Gradually, Corey’s bitterness compels him to stir Michael up again as some sort of payback against Haddonfield itself, but as he tries to get this once legendary evil to enact some sort of revenge, Michael’s evil seems to galvanise him to walk a similarly dark path, putting Laurie and Allyson’s relationship – and lives – in jeopardy.
Ok, so first of all I’d like to address all the hardcore Halloween fans out there and just simply say – I get it. I get that sometimes, much like The Last Jedi’s treatment of Luke Skywalker (which I loved) or Love And Thunder’s treatment of Thor (which I didn’t) sometimes a long running franchise takes a risk and goes in a direction you simply don’t agree with and the movie’s focus of keeping Michael firmly in the background in favour of the script using a totally new character to examine how exactly a boogeyman gets created is certainly controversial. But then that intriguing line between fascinating and infuriating is one that David Gordon Green infamously walked last year with the equally divisive Kills; he has big themes and emotions he wants to toy with and he’s not about to let nearly forty-five years of fan expectation slow him down now. However, while his attempt to bring something different to the thirteenth entry into something as un-malleable as a slasher franchise should – nay, must – be lauded, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t make some jarring, clumsy steps along the way and it’s here that Ends kind of stabs itself in the foot.
If you’re going to go light on Michael Myers in your Michael Myers film (surely a cheeky nod to the Myers-less Halloween III) and instead take an off-beat, Tales From Haddonfield sort of vibe, maybe don’t have character beats that don’t feel wildly implausible and clunky dialogue that bounce off the ears like a slap to the face. After all they’ve been through together, would Allyson really take Corey’s side over her grandmother’s when the kid obviously seems to be growing ever more unhinged? Elsewhere, the fact that Michael has been in recluse for four years has left him noticably weaker since he took out around a dozen people single handed at the end of the previous film, yet no real explanation is given to his fluctuating levels of strength. One minute he’s lifting up a woman by the throat with one hand in a nice homage to Michael’s coolest kill (she’s even pinned to a painting to solidify the Michael admiring his “art” angle), but the next he’s unable to out wrestle Corey when the kid wants to take his mask – a sight no Halloween fan wants to see.
Still, the bold swings often yield gold and the final showdown, while on a smaller scale than the 2018 movie, still brings the goods and actually has a definitive outcome that’s strangely moving as it is starkly brutal – in fact one of the most audacious sequences the franchise has ever seen occurs here that involves an impromptu gathering that plays like a funeral procession and is nothing less than unfettered genius.
For you gorehounds out there, Halloween Ends brings some legitimately flinch-worthy demises from the opening death if a child, to an eyebrow raising use for a blowtorch, to an absolutely ghoulish moment where a character has their jaw battered off and their tongue snipped out – but once again, the fact that it’s not Michael instigating these atrocities will anger many despite all the nifty concepts of what effect Michael’s legacy has had on the town and how his evil has caused dread to spread like a sickness.
On the other hand, the performances are strong (despite the odd howler of a line) and its genuinely nice to see a happier, more mentally positive Jamie Lee Curtis portraying Strode as someone trying to put her grizzled, survivalist days behind her, giving us a glimpse of a Laurie that might have once been.
So, is this really the end, though? Well, in a way, yes. It’s the end the same way that The Dark Knight Rises was the end, but I’m sure that in around seven or eight years, we’ll probably get some sort of reboot or reimagining somewhere down the line that kicks everything off again.
But until then, mauls well that ends well…ish.