REVIEW: Halloween Ends
For better or worse, a decision was made early on that the new trio of Halloween films were to reverse two staples of the franchise’s mythos:
1) The convoluted storyline that makes Michael Myers both, Laurie Strode’s brother and a product of some ancient Druid curse
2) Haddonfield, Illinois as a stand-in for Anytown, USA
However, in execution—and despite obvious, sincere intentions—the new (old) universe of Halloween has rendered perennial psycho Michael Myers into Just Some Guy and the town of Haddonfield into a Bunch of Guys.
David Gordon Green’s 2018 direct sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 masterpiece was most comfortable in its own skin when exploring the three generations of Strode women, which ultimately led to a fun, little slasher movie. It’s only when the filmmakers expanded their sandbox in Halloween Kills (2021) to include the whole town of Haddonfield in a larger-than-life drama that they lose the plot . . . and simple joys of the slasher genre.
Minor characters from the original reappeared with gigantic, out-sized roles and motivations. Tommy Doyle, Marion Chambers—even Tommy’s little friend Lindsey! They’re all there! And despite only appearing in one film 40 years ago (in this chronology), we’re supposed to identify with them so completely, it supposedly makes sense when they agitate a Bunch of Guys into hunting Some Guy who killed a Few Guys several decades ago.
Seriously, though, New Yorkers are more over 9/11 than Haddonfield is of a couple parents getting free babysitting all those years ago.
But fret not my fellow slasher aficionados, Halloween Ends has a new trick up its sleeve: it introduces a New Guy.
That’s right. Everyone’s favorite part of Halloween III and Jason Goes to Hell—the sidelining of each franchise’s main draw—is 100% utilized in Green’s conclusive third film.
Halloween Ends begins in 2018 with teenager Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell) reporting for babysitting duty on Halloween night. When Corey’s charge is mysteriously thrown from a stair railing and killed, he is driven from polite society, forever suspected of being a child murderer.
Andi Matichak returns as Allyson Nelson, Laurie’s granddaughter, now a nurse living with her grandmother after her mom’s death in the previous film. Allyson soon gets the hots for the mysterious and brooding Corey, and they strike up a fast relationship.
Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), our resident expert on evil, has her doubts about Corey. And her instincts are honed. That’s because for the first two-thirds of this film, we’re watching Corey turn into a Michael Myers-esque killer.
Enter: something, something, something about whether evil is an innate force or a product of the environment. If you look up the definition of Nature vs. Nurture on Wikipedia, you’ll already have a more complex understanding of the concept than this film is willing to explore.
And trust me, I take no pleasure in dogging Halloween Ends. I’m literally its target audience. Regardless of quality, there are very few slasher films I don’t enjoy, including the worst of the Halloween sequels! Unfortunately, this movie spent too much time in a room with its own farts and forgot it was even supposed to be a slasher movie.
In fact, in the slasher philosophy that occupies much of my brain activity, I believe the jettisoning of the Halloween II-plus movies (and thus their sensibilities) creates a fatal flaw in crafting new Halloween films. The terrible metaphor I always use is: if Halloween (1978) was the grenade, Friday the 13th (1980) was what pulled the pin and initiated the economy that drove the slasher cycle. However, it was actually Halloween II (1981) where the slasher tropes we associate with the genre today began to solidify.
Therefore, while it’s noble to want to expand and riff on the enduring quality of the original film, the by-the-numbers stalk-and-slash is very much a part of the Halloween DNA. I wholeheartedly commend Green and Danny McBride for the ambition in trying something different with this trilogy. It just doesn’t work.
It’s time for Some New Guys.
Matt Rotman is a writer, humorist, and filmmaker based out of San Diego, CA. His work has been featured in National Lampoon, Daily Grindhouse, Weekly Humorist, Delirium, and Diabolique Magazine. He currently runs the Bonkers Ass Cinema film blog, and his first book of the same name is due out in August 2022 by BearManor Media.