To say that the Halloween franchise has gone through some things over the years is to put it mildly. Original writer/director John Carpenter oversaw the first two, but then yielded for the reviled Halloween III: Season of the Witch. The franchise has changed hands multiple times through its 11 sequels/reboots, including two from Rob Zombie and now three from David Gordon Green and Danny McBride.
Through the years, villain Michael Myers has been shot and stabbed multiple times, burned in a fire, fallen down a mine, electrocuted, and decapitated (!), yet has always lived to see another day because that’s what horror monsters do. So even though the newest film is called Halloween Ends, don’t let that fool you; if the interest/money is there, there will be another Halloween some day.
What the Ends part of the title is likely referring to more is the participation of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, who has now appeared as the character she originated in seven of the 12 films. The latest trilogy has the 63-year-old actor playing a grandmother to Allyson (Andi Matichak), so there’s only so much more the franchise can ask of her.
This film, directed once again by Green and written by Green, McBride, Paul Brad Logan, and Chris Bernier, is split almost evenly between Laurie and Allyson, who are still recovering from Michael killing Laurie’s daughter/Allyson’s mom, Karen (Judy Greer). But Laurie proclaims herself not to be afraid of Michael anymore, moving back to Haddonfield and writing a book about her experiences.
Her new lack of fear brings Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell), a young man who had been accused of killing a boy he was babysitting, into their lives. Laurie empathizes with him and Allyson develops a quick crush on him, blinding them to his obviously damaged mind. As Corey falls deeper into his angry – and perhaps murderous? – funk, it’s only a matter of time before Michael Myers comes back into the picture…
If all you care about is blood, gore, and somewhat creative kills, then Halloween Ends has a good amount to offer. However, apart from the standard opening scene, the film actually takes a while to get to the bloodshed. There’s a lot of setup for Allyson and Corey’s relationship, a surprising amount for a pairing that never makes any sense. Corey also has multiple run-ins with a group of unruly teens, one of whom has a thick New York accent despite being in Illinois, a situation that makes it painfully obvious what their fate will be.
To the film’s credit, it does manage to surprise a decent amount. There are several times where the story seems to be heading down an expected path, only for it to veer off into somewhat clever territory. Michael, who exists in a hulking form that only communicates in grunts and wheezing breaths, remains an intimidating figure, especially since his mask (and maybe his body?) was burned a couple of films ago.
The film ends with a ludicrous-but-entertaining orgy of violence that puts an exclamation mark on Laurie’s 44-year-long character arc. Curtis, as she has done throughout the series, goes all out, showing that she is still the consummate horror victim/hero. Matichak is effective, but is hamstrung by her character’s strange decisions. Campbell is suitably strange, but his one-note character also doesn’t give him much room for nuance.
As is too often the case with the genre these days, Halloween Ends will only be scary for horror film novices. For completists of the franchise, it offers a satisfactory conclusion to this particular trilogy, but movie fans in general will likely find it lacking.
Halloween Ends opens in theaters and debuts on Peacock on October 14.