Halloween Ends – Review

Something woke up in 2018. Fans of the Halloween franchise rejoiced, eating up the new sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 masterpiece and growing hungry for more. The film could have served as the end, but director David Gordon Green and his writing partner, Danny McBride, had greater ambitions for this story. Halloween Kills dropped in 2021 to lukewarm reviews, my own among them, but upon rewatching it I discovered that I very much enjoyed the bombastic and vicious sequel. Now we’ve been offered a cap to the trilogy, one that attempts to bring home an end to the story of Laurie Strode and The Shape while thematically meant to cap off the entirety of forty years worth of sequels, reboots, and confusing timelines.

This will not be the last we see of Michael Meyers. The franchise is too popular, but what Green has offered does indeed serve as a lovely way to end this story.

There’s something to be said about Haddonfield, Illinois. Carpenter’s film imagined it as a small town that saw nary a true tragedy, but the babysitter murders of 1978 left them with a local legend to discuss. This story served as a bogeyman that they could fear; a target for hatred, confusion, and rage that sat in all of the residents but only really affected those that were directly touched by it. When Michael escaped in 2018 and went on a two-film rampage that claimed the lives of forty-eight people the town began to fester over the lingering evil that lay beneath. Michael disappeared after this rampage, leaving his final victim as laurie’s daughter Karen Strode (Judy Greer), and his presence now hovers over the town and the lives of those within it. Haddonfield is a haunted place, with generations collapsing in on one another in a black hole of despair and grief.

In that gravitational anomaly stands Laurie Strode (Jaime Lee Curtis). She has now survived multiple attempts on her life by Michael Meyers, each more gruesome than the last, and she now lives as a town pariah and a legend almost equal to The Shape itself. Haddonfield has decided that it is her fault Michael killed, seeing her aggression towards him as poking the proverbial bear, and shunning her on a good day while calling her an outright freak show on others. There’s the kindness and even flirtation of an adorable deputy Frank Hawkins (Will Patton being as sweet as can be), the small home she’s bought after returning to Haddonfield proper, and the life she shares with her granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak). Laurie spends her days writing her memoirs and attempting to bake, but these actions are only out of a sense that she can’t keep running and instead needs to get out ahead of her fear.

Allyson, on the other hand, is a devastated human being. Andi Matichak has become one of my favorite scream queens in recent memory (Assimilate, Son) and shows no signs of slowing down. Allyson is drawn to the reality of people that have been affected by the foggy darkness that settled over her hometown in the form of Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell), a young man who in another life was on his way to becoming a mechanical engineer until a tragic accident killed the shit kid he was babysitting one year to the day after Michael disappeared. This death is not the only one to hit the city, with suicides on the rise and angry townspeople looking for new bogeymen to blame for them. Allyson sees Corey for what he is, a sweet kid that suffered a terrible tragedy and lost his future for it. She’s in the same boat, and the two form a bond that would be sexy if it weren’t so damned sad. Laurie sees this at first as well, but all the suffering Corey has endured at the hands of a town that doesn’t know him makes her wonder if a monster wasn’t born, but rather made by time and brutality.

Michael does come back into this, but David Gordon Green’s strength has always been in dramas like George Washington or Stronger and he finally embraces that. Halloween Ends does indeed deliver its poster child back to the fans, but it takes its time getting there and weaves several narratives together that culminate in a story that is ultimately about generational tragedy more than it is one unknowable evil. Haddonfield becomes comparable to something like Stephen King’s Derry or Christopher Nolan’s Gotham – a town devastated by tragedy that serves as a geographical character study populated by broken individuals. It’s an interesting strategy and one that I think pays off when aging, broken Michael emerges from beneath the rotting infrastructure to kill once again, but fans looking for the gore of the previous two installments are going to be left confused as David Gordon Green is more interested in finishing his story than he is in satisfying that itch. Those great kills are there, but they are fewer and farther between.

John Carpenter returns for one last ride, scoring the film alongside his son Cody and their creative partner Daniel Davies. Carpenter’s score for Halloween (2018) was one of his all-timers, revitalizing his original theme and adding so much more to the franchise’s musical palette. When he popped back in for Halloween Kills he created a more grounded set of pieces that still felt like one with the story he’d started, an interesting direction that seeped its claws deeper into Haddonfield while toning down some of the outright aggression. His final work for the franchise (for now) is different, one that is quieter and much more contemplative than almost anything else he’s ever done. By the time it reaches its climax there’s a bittersweet finality to it, one that serves determination and grit while staring into the eyes of evil, and his synths soar in a way he hasn’t ever brought to a horror flick before.

Halloween Ends isn’t going to be for a lot of people. It’s different, lovely, sort of quiet, and audacious in how it decides to cap this story. I sat with it overnight because it took so much to gather thoughts, but the ending to David Gordon Green’s trilogy sequel to the original film has turned out to be a wonderful addition to this franchise and one that I wholeheartedly embrace. I cannot wait to sit and watch all four films together as a whole and I cannot wait for you all to see this weird, bold, beautiful bit of film.

Halloween Ends is currently in theaters and streaming on Peacock.

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