3 out of 5 stars

David Gordon Green’s Halloween sequel trilogy comes to a divisive close with Halloween Ends, which is as definitive as the title promises. Halloween (2018) was a solid return for this veteran franchise and found new areas to explore, mainly regarding Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) wrestling with PTSD four decades after the events of Halloween (1978) where she survived Michael Myers’ massacre across Haddonfield, Illinois. The immediate sequel, Halloween Kills (2021) was a superficial and unconvincing exploration of how a close-knit community’s grief can lead to them becoming a bloodthirsty mob, which felt more like a feature-length extension of the prior film’s climax with Michael at his most sadistic. Mercifully, Halloween Ends has a better screenplay with something deeper to say about evil as a societal contagion, although the lack of bloodshed from Myers himself will certainly disappoint many.

Against expectations, Ends makes the bold move to introduce a new character as the de facto lead, which in many ways reveals the extent to which this trilogy wasn’t meticulously thought out. It would have been far better if we’d already spent a few movies with Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell) around, so what happens to him in Ends could deliver a bigger emotional impact. That said, the script by Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, Danny McBride and David Gordon Green does enough to make you invest in Corey’s tragic arc, helped by Campbell’s excellent performance as a nice guy overtaken by his dark urges, so unexpected focus on him continues in the spirit of how the 1980s and 1990s Halloween sequels would randomly introduce new heroes and villains.

A year after Michael Myers’ second night of terror in 2018, another Halloween brings a different kind of tragedy to Haddonfield when genial babysitter Corey looks after a couple’s bratty young son Jeremy, before a terrible misunderstanding and paranoia result in the boy’s grisly death and Corey getting the blame. Four years later, Corey’s been cleared of manslaughter but his life’s taken a bruising and he’s frequently bullied over his unfair reputation as a psycho. Simultaneously, Laurie Strode is approaching a level of peace since Michael killed her daughter, as she’s now living with her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) and writing a memoir about her experiences to help put it all behind her.

Of course, what’s hanging over both characters is that Michael Myers wasn’t apprehended or killed four years ago and is still out there, somewhere, poised to continue his killing spree on another chilly October evening. It’s admittedly a stretch to believe Laurie would suddenly be in a better place given such a fresh familial tragedy, considering how she became an alcoholic wreck during the decades Michael was safely behind bars. This is likely a problem with a change to the film’s intentions, as Ends was originally going to take place on the same Halloween night before a four-year time jump was agreed upon. That also suggests the storyline with Corey was a new invention (requiring a 2019 prologue), or perhaps that opening scene was intended for Kills but they chose to hold it back for some reason. Whatever happened behind-the-scenes, there’s a lack of plausibility to Laurie’s mental state that’s difficult to shake off.

Halloween Ends has significantly less Michael Myers, which will upset a lot of fans and make them dislike this movie on sight. However, he wasn’t in the original Halloween as much as people misremember, so in some ways restoring him as a boogieman whose mere existence is enough to have people on edge is a classic direction to go in. He’s now being used similarly to Pennywise in It (2017), lurking in the sewers and having a malign influence on the small community above without even lifting a finger. Halloween Ends is more about how good people can become infected with a type of sickness after going through such a traumatic experience, unable to heal without proof the same nightmare can’t happen again. There are definite similarities to what Kills was trying to do but it works better because there’s a human face to take us on the journey.

Ultimately, Corey struggles with being a social pariah but finds welcome and unexpected support from Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson, as the two bond and become lovers. It’s a lot of Ends to have to set up that relationship and would have worked better if things had been foreshadowed earlier in the trilogy, but it just about works thanks to the strength of the two performances. Allyson and Corey don’t feel like they fit into Haddonfield because the town is full of bad memories for them, so there arises a tragic romance storyline as we also see Corey’s anger and frustration being channelled into darker impulses. He begins to embrace the fiction of what others think and expect of him, and once he discovers Michael Myers living in the sewer they form an unexpected bond. It’s almost like Michael wants a young protege to continue his killing spree because he knows he’s getting older and weaker; while Corey becomes unhealthily attracted to what Michael represents and decides to adopt the same ‘Shape’ to exorcise his own demons.

There’s enough under the surface of Halloween Ends for me to recommend it, but it’s admittedly a bizarre decision to go down this path for the conclusion of a trilogy. Jamie Lee Curtis has more to do as Laurie than during Kills, and I loved a touching scene between her and Deputy Hawkins (Will Patton) at a supermarket that plays to her strengths as an actress, but she’s mostly asked to play a grandma who disapproves of her granddaughter’s new boyfriend until the final moments when Michael returns to finish what he started. The climax of Ends isn’t as enthralling as one would hope, partly because Michael is clearly weaker due to his advancing years and time spent on the streets, but I did enjoy how they definitively bring the story to a close in a deliciously crazy way. And I’m going to ignore any outrageous theories about how Halloween could continue with more films in this timeline, as it would be a huge mistake to even try.

Overall, Halloween Ends is a patchy end to a trilogy but an interesting movie when thought about more separatly. The story is stronger than Kills and Jamie Lee Curtis gives her best performance as Laurie since Halloween: H20 (1998), but there are also too many illogical decisions and it’s a shame David Gordon Green’s three movies don’t cohere better. If Corey had been weaved into the previous movies and Laurie’s journey had been the reverse (starting off as a recovering survivor writing her memoirs, then getting more paranoid and aloof once Michael returns), Halloween Ends would have worked a lot better.

USA UK | 2022 | 111 MINUTES | 2.39:1 | COLOUR | ENGLISH

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Cast & Crew

director: David Gordon Green.
writer: Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, Danny McBride & David Gordon Green (based on characters by John Carpenter & Debra Hill).
starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, Rohan Campbell, Will Patton, Kyle Richards & James Jude Courtney.