“Halloween Ends”: a strange, sad, gorgeous nail in an insane trilogy’s coffin


Universal Pictures

David Gordon Green’s conclusion to his tonal disaster of “Halloween” sequels is a truly fascinating and bold film, and surprisingly mostly for better.

Jake Panek, Staff Writer

It was inevitable, really, that another sequel, reboot, reimagining, path in the Choose Your Own Adventure of horror movie franchises or whatever else you want to call it of “Halloween” would be made, especially after the streak of critical disappointments the series had upheld for—at most, depending on who you ask—nine movies across nearly 35 years. But with John Carpenter himself serving as executive producer—the first time the horror maestro had been involved with any film in the franchise since 1982’s “Season of the Witch”—there was plenty of excitement built up for the direct continuation of his original 1978 masterpiece, and rightfully so. I think that David Gordon Green’s 2018 “Halloween” still holds up four years later as an effective, no-nonsense modern slasher, which only makes it all the more frustrating that he followed it up with “Halloween Kills,” an embarrassing disaster that very easily takes the cake for the worst of the seven films I’ve seen from the franchise thus far.

And now we’ve arrived at “Halloween Ends,” a film that has to wrap a narrative and thematic bow around not only the tonal disaster that is the H40 timeline but also the convoluted saga of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode in its entirety—a tall order, to say the least, and one that was destined to let down and infuriate diehard fans of this franchise no matter which direction it went. But the route DGG has taken here has to be the most objectively insane yet purposefully obtuse one imaginable in admitting that the franchise, with all of the different installments and chronologies we’ve seen over the course of almost 45 years, has gone on for far too long. “Halloween Ends” is a tragic and pitiful nail in this trilogy’s coffin, but what a strange and consistently gorgeous nail it is.

Four years have passed in Haddonfield, Illinois since the events of “Halloween Kills,” and even though Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has finally started to adjust to a more normal life and even writing a memoir, the specter of Michael Myers continues to haunt the eternally cursed town well after his last confirmed sighting. But seemingly nobody has suffered more in the time since than Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell), a young outcast traumatized by the accidental death of a kid he was babysitting three years prior, although that changes when he meets and immediately connects with Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). But when Corey has an encounter with a decrepit Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney) that ends with The Shape letting him go upon sensing something in his eyes, another spree of violence starts to slowly unfurl in Haddonfield that culminates in Laurie’s last stand with the unstoppable evil that’s dominated her life.

Much like how “Halloween (2018)” and “Halloween Kills” mimicked the formal templates of Carpenter’s original and Rick Rosenthal’s 1981 sequel respectively, “Halloween Ends” continues the pattern and plays out at its best like a spiritual successor to “Season of the Witch,” even using the same blue font during its opening credits. And while it may not be as fully out there as that film simply by virtue of actually featuring Michael Myers, that comparison still doesn’t fully approximate just how weird this movie gets but also how much of that is actually by design—and obviously, a lot of that revolves around Corey. 

Making the main character of the final movie of your trilogy one that the audience has never seen or heard of before in any other installment of your franchise is one of the most deranged ideas a film this big has actually swung for in who knows how long, and possibly even crazier is that—for me, at least—it somehow didn’t fail. For as jarring as his introduction feels, especially off the heels of “Kills”’ cliffhanger ending, his character works as a continuation and sole personification of that film’s ideas about the presence and manifestation of evil in Haddonfield and then some. Him being bullied by the most socially diverse group of high schoolers you’ll ever see in a film was definitely funny, but the romance between him and Allyson is for the most part pretty well executed—it’s undeniably rushed, but I think it works in portraying the angst and frustrations they share towards Haddonfield and the town’s perpetuation and excusing of violence in the wake of the killings that The Shape wreaked upon their home and what the population has become as a result—and they both lead to some great payoffs in the latter half of the film.

What David Gordon Green has done with both Laurie and Jamie Lee Curtis is simply good enough—which would definitely be a much more major issue if it weren’t (unfortunately) automatically a step up from her being completely sidelined in a hospital room like in “Kills”—but it’s the portrayal of Michael Myers here that’s truly the film’s best component. Not only is his rotting, grimy and mummified look just incredible—possibly even a step up over the burnt mask in “Kills,” one of that film’s few redeeming qualities—but the new mythological and supernatural aspects of his presence that it teases are fascinating. When Corey first encounters him and is fighting him in the sewer that he’s made his home, there’s a point where Michael gets knocked down and struggles to get back up, implying that whatever The Shape really is has actually gotten weak without any bloodshed, and when he finally does kill for the first time in four years, his body starts to convulse and thrash as if he’s surging with power. It’s small details, but they add enough intrigue to make this character still feel fresh after eleven movies.

For as tonally incoherent as David Gordon Green’s “Halloween” sequel trilogy ended up being as a whole, it’s fascinating to see how each film works on its own, but I’ll be particularly interested to see how this one fares in the long run with audiences. For a film that we know for a fact isn’t the last film to come out of this franchise, it still manages to carry enough impact as an ending to this timeline and a fitting sendoff for Jamie Lee Curtis, but on its own, “Halloween Ends” is a true oddity for a blockbuster franchise such as this, and one that I couldn’t help but admire for it.