Halloween Ends (2022)
Explaining the muddled history of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Michael Myers would be exhausting not only in practice but to read. There are no doubt many wikis out there that can fill you in with the interconnectivity (or not) of the thirteen films under the Halloween banner. For the purposes of David Gordon Green’s Halloween Ends, all that matters is that you’ve seen John Carpenter’s original 1978 slasher Halloween and Green’s H40 titles Halloween (2018) and Halloween Kills (2021). In point of fact, Halloween Ends does a neat little trick that allows you to have not seen the previous and, to an extent, be caught up.
Halloween Ends begins not with a story about Myers but instead with one about a different fateful Halloween night for beleaguered babysitter Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell). In 2019, Myers has all but disappeared from Haddonfield but remains in the public consciousness. Corey is roped into babysitting a little brat whose prank on the young man turns deadly, leaving the kid dead and Corey as a pariah in Haddonfield.
Life for Laurie has taken a turn for the better. Despite her innumerable losses (including her daughter), she’s been to therapy, stopped drinking, is living with her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), and writing a book about Myers as a form of emotional catharsis. Laurie is aware that the specter of Michael Myers still haunts Haddonfield, even if he hasn’t reappeared after the bloody and messy events of Halloween Kills. She has decided that she can choose to not let the evil in, although she watches for it. Other Haddonfield residents aren’t particularly forgiving of Laurie. They blame her for being the genesis of Myers’ killing sprees. A perpetual outsider in her hometown, she naturally feels some affinity for Corey as he is relentlessly bullied and beaten. Accidentally playing cupid by introducing Corey to Allyson, who is working as a nurse in a local clinic after Corey is attacked by a group of particularly nasty Haddonfield High seniors, Laurie hopes for the best for Allyson and her new beau; but this is Haddonfield, and nothing is ever going to be that simple.
By now, you’ll be aware that Myers is the walking embodiment of evil. If the repeated message in Halloween Kills wasn’t enough to get that across, then the script of Halloween Ends hammers it home. There was some suggestion that Myers had supernatural powers in Halloween Kills, and this is again explored in an incredibly undercooked manner in Halloween Ends. Here Myers is able to transfer something onto an apprentice whose killing spree is more revenge oriented than Myers’ oddly psychosexual punishment of horny teens in Halloween (1978) and Halloween (2018).
David Gordon Green’s reboot and direct sequel to the 1978 film was surprisingly good. It was lean, mean and made Laurie a killing machine. Yes, her obsession with taking down the boogeyman took a toll on her mental health and family relationships, but she was vindicated. Halloween Kills sidelined Laurie (as 1981’s Halloween II did to an extent) by having her in a hospital for most of the film and professing that Myers is powered by evil. When the town went out to get him, he easily slashed through many of them. Myers seemed impossible to kill (remember Loomis claiming, “I shot him six times!”), so it appears odd that he just went dormant for years until awoken by his would-be apprentice.
In terms of what people want from a Halloween film, the formula should be simple enough. Gory kills, and a showdown between Myers and Laurie. In this, Halloween Ends delivers, but the method of getting there is both tortuous and torturous. We don’t even see Myers until near the hour mark of the film. The narrative that leads up to it is like wading through a treacle. Once the killing begins, things get more fun, but by that stage, audience investment may well have waned.
Jamie Lee Curtis is reliably good as Laurie — a part that started her career. One may question some of her choices, but when it comes to dealing with Myers, she’s brilliant. Andi Matichak’s Allyson is harder to fathom. You can see why she’d be attracted to the broken Corey and understand why she’d finally decide to get the hell out of dodge, but there is the lingering question of why she stayed in the first place. “All my memories are here,” she tells Corey, but surely most of those memories are active nightmares considering she’s lost family and friends to Myers. Character development is a little sketchy. Rohan Campbell’s Corey is certainly downtrodden, and that’s not improved by his family situation, with his mother being a less God-obsessed version of Carrie White’s mother.
Halloween Ends makes some bold choices, and some of them pay off. There are a few nice moments that remind the audience that Laurie is just a person who has been through a lot of stuff and is trying to come out the other side. Her awkward flirtation with the now-retired Frank Hawkins (Will Patton) is sweet. The other romance in the film is not so sweet, and when a character claims, “If I can’t have her, no one can,” you can be well assured that they probably are going to get exactly what they deserve.
David Gordon Green adds some inventive kills in the film, there’s an equally gross and hilarious scene that involves a tongue on a turntable, but it is less a slasher than the previous entries. Eventually, the audience will get what they paid for, an ultimate showdown between Laurie and Myers. Jamie Lee Curtis has promised to never return for another Halloween film, so you can really consider that the final time she will tangle with Myers’ particular brand of evil, and frankly, it is a good thing. H40 ran out of steam in the second instalment, and Halloween Ends runs on fumes.
One positive thing is that John Carpenter cashes a cheque every time one of these films is made, so at least he’s making bucks so he can sit around creating cool synth music and playing video games; so good for him! He probably doesn’t care at all if the films are any good and won’t be upset that Halloween Ends is logic-defying garbage. Will the general audience care? Probably not, as they have enough brand loyalty to hand over the cash to see one of their beloved franchises. Fair warning, though, they’ll probably be a little pissed off about it when the lights come up.
2.5 / 5 – Alright
Reviewed by Nadine Whitney
Halloween Ends is released through Universal Pictures Australia