In the world of horror franchises its nearly impossible to say that the words “the end”. One of the genres longest running gags is that an end is very rarely in sight and the monster will always return one way or another. So when Blumhouse and David Gordon Green announced that their third entry into their new “Halloween” trilogy would be the end of the series it was meant with some laughs and even more eye rolls. Anyone familiar with John Carpenter’s creation Michael Myers knows he always gets back up (quite dramatically I might add), and after what seemed like only just touching the surface with a middle (and quite miserable) film, “Halloween Kills”, it seems like there is still much more left to the saga of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Michael Myers. Thankfully HALLOWEEN ENDS chooses a very different and wonderfully strange path. It sees the finish line in its sight but decides to have a little more fun before it reaches, even if it’s at the expense of some die hard fans of the Shape. ENDS also happens to be the best of this new trilogy from Gordon Green and co-screenwriter and producer Danny McBride. Not since Rob Zombie’s “Halloween 2” or even “Season of the Witch” have fans been given this much to talk (and scream) about. For a franchise in its thirteenth outing its nice to see them take a much needed detour, even if they waited for the very end.
Haddonfield, like always, has been through hell. Following the events of Halloween night 2018, Gordon Green begins his first slight of hand trick. Instead of following Laurie the film starts with an unseen event from 2019 involving a young and babysitter Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell). Corey is basically a deer in headlights especially when the night quickly turns to tragedy and the hatred of the town turns on him. Before viewers can ask themselves why do we care about this, the film allows Laurie to catch us up on the past four years since Michael was last seen. The town of Haddonfield has turned into pure evil via Michael’s rage. Murders and suicides have gone up, but Laurie tries to keep her days moving forward as she writes her survivors memoir and looks after her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) who is still mourning the murder of her mother and Laurie’s daughter Karen. Jamie Lee Curtis has never had a problem following right back into playing Laurie and the weight that comes with it. Allyson however has changed into a much angrier and more confused person which is amplified by Matichak’s wonderfully aggressive performance. However the film (and some spoilers ahead) is more focused on the effects of that ill-fated night in 2019. Corey, who now works for his father at his auto yard is only seen as a monster by the town’s people. Even the local high school kids know the story and spend their days beating him up before Laurie comes to the aid and sees him as a possible setup for Allyson. It works but even for all his shyness, something looms inside Corey.
HALLOWEEN ENDS unlike its previous two installments seems to take more pride in its 70’s and especially 80’s roots. Where 2018 and “Kills” wanted to bring the franchise into modern times, ENDS wants to explore an era where horror was more sadistic and you didn’t always have to follow a hero. Corey and Allyson’s relationship is the center of the story and while it doesn’t go full Bonnie and Clyde, the two of them turn one another on through discussions of burning Haddonfield to the ground as Allyson moves further and further away from Laurie’s protection. Gordon Green and McBride have always had a dark sense of humor (Eastbound and Down and Vice Principals) but that was severely lacking in their trilogy, here they feel more in touch as Gordon Green shoots scenes of Allyson and Corey basically dry humping on his motorcycle as they dream of a world where Haddonfield exists no more. Campbell as Corey has the task of possibly being one of the most hated characters in the franchise, but he does a damn good job at showing someone already unhinged who has reached the end of the line.
If all this sounds like it is missing something, more particularly, someone you are not wrong. There’s no spoiler in saying yes Michael is back (he’s always back), but a fully alive Michael he is not. The film takes its time before revealing where Michael is and what he has been doing since a group of townspeople kicked his skull in. What is exciting about ENDS is that Michael’s presence has always loomed over the town, but this is the first film that truly doesn’t need him there to show how his evil actions have defined Haddonfield forever. Very few people left in this town are good, and where empathy should exists with one another (they are all survivors after all) hatred and violence ensues instead. By the time the film comes around to bringing Michael it is almost as if he is finishing the work that Haddonfield has started for him.
The film for all its creative choices also knows that the audience is here for the saga of Laurie and Michael to continue (or possibly end). Yes it is very exciting to see these two come face to face in some form, but there is a little bit of audience hand holding. It’s not that fan service is necessarily a bad thing (although it kind of is) its just that you often wounded throughout its short runtime if they were going to stick the landing with something truly unique. The film, and this entire saga, has always been about trauma though (cue eye roll). Yes its been said over and over but being a survivor and what you do with all that anger and fear is a basis of the Halloween franchise. Laurie and Allyson have been through the ringer and while their paths seem to be moving away from one another that anger resides in everything they do. The film chooses to come back to this no matter what new characters they introduce at the eleventh hour. ENDS also has the toughest job of any film in this series. Does it actually end things? While there are some wrap-ups (many happening way too quick) this critic wouldn’t dare say in this review if things are final or not. But there is an absurdity to its final moments that will be yet another divisive and much discussed event for fans. Here is a trilogy that seems to have just found its footing that you both hope to see it continue and also kind of want it to die. A film that finished up a plan that never really existed HALLOWEEN ENDS still finds ways to surprise and intrigue. There are gnarly kills, annoying characters, dumb teenagers and some creepy music. Gordon Green and McBride may not have given us a great trilogy but here they have definitely found a way to leave you unnerved and sometimes that’s all you can ask for on a Halloween night.
HALLOWEEN ENDS WILL BE RELEASED IN THEATERS AND STREAMING ON PEACOCK OCTOBER 14