The end is no longer nigh. The saga of Laurie Strode and Michael Myers is put to rest in David Gordon Green’s “Halloween Ends”.
2018’s “Halloween” was created to wipe out the bad taste of the sequels to John Carpenter’s 1978 classic. With John Carpenter returning to compose the score (and having input on the screenplay), the film was a respectful and surprisingly welcome return to Haddonfield, Illinois and the Boogeyman who terrorized it.
The same cannot be said of the second film. “Halloween Kills” was a near travesty of bad dialogue and a truly inept screenplay that tried too hard to bring modern society’s issues to a slasher flick.
The final film is here and certainly has its own issues. The good news? Its inherent problems don’t ruin what is a somewhat fitting end.
Written by director David Gordon Green, Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, and Danny McBride, this is certainly a Slasher/Horror picture, yet one without many as kill scenes as expected.
It is four years after the bloody rampage of “Halloween Kills”. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is still mourning the murder of her daughter but has found an outlet for her pain, writing a book. In well-written voice-over, Laurie expounds on the nature of evil and Curtis sells the older and not-so-broken anymore Laurie Strode.
We are introduced to Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell), a young man who is now the town’s outcast, as he was accidentally responsible for the death of a young boy he was babysitting. The pre-credit sequence of that fateful night is a doozy.
It is macabre kismet as Corey finds romance with Laurie’s granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak), who lives with her grandmother.
That these three broken souls find one another (for better or worse) gives the film an interesting canvas to examine trauma and the different ways people cope.
A good part of the film centers around Corey, who plays a major part in Michael Myers’ return. This works as much as it doesn’t. Corey has an interesting arc, but the first half of the film spends too much time with him. In the big farewell to Laurie and Michael, the last thing audiences want is to have the two of them sidelined for a good portion of the film.
“Halloween Ends” brings Michael Myers back to being The Boogeyman. Curtis gets some good lines about the manifestation of evil and how, in its purest form, it can infect the weak-minded. Silly, yes, but a “Halloween” film hasn’t been this interesting in its dialogues on fear since Donald Pleasance first described Michael back in 1978.
If the film has a major flaw, it is giving Michael Myers the least screen time in the series entire. It takes too long to get to his return and once he shows up, The Boogeyman is mostly sidelined until the final act. Of course, he gets a couple of big moments, but the film seems more interested in their new creation (Corey) than letting Michael loose for a final bloodbath. Missing are scenes of Myers stalking the streets of Haddonfield, moving through the darkness, and blending into the shadows. Moments like these are the aural heartbeat of any “Halloween” film.
Though few, the scenes with Michael Myers work, as does the way Corey fits into them. Myers wears his iconic legend well and the camera still loves that blank, lifeless, face.
The actors do good work, giving better performances than the slasher genre usually allows. Campbell is great as Corey, Matichack is always good as Allison, and Jamie Lee Curtis brings her edge as an actress to her swan song of the most famous of all “Final Girls”. Curtis has grit and Strode’s courage works better here than in the previous two films.
Will Patton has some nice scenes, returning as Officer Hawkins but it is Kylie Richards’ Lindsey who drew the short straw. Why bring her back only to downgrade her to a couple scenes of bartending? It would have complimented the original’s legacy to witness dialogues between Lindsey and Laurie, as they bond over shared grief.
John Carpenter’s score (created with son Cody and Delmer Davies) is solid, expanding on themes created for the other two entries. Unfortunately, Green doesn’t use it enough, inexplicably throwing Indie Rock songs all over the soundtrack when Carpenter’s compositions should have driven the eerie mood.
There is only one Rock song that should be used in a final “Halloween” film (aficionados will know the one I mean) and it does receive its proper placement.
It is no spoiler to speak of the final duel between Laurie Strode and her 40-plus year adversary. The scene is quite exciting. While I shall not reveal the blow by blow of the sequence, it is fun and creative and had the audience cheering. This is the film’s do or die moment and, although too short, fans should be pleased.
While enough portions of Green’s film work, he doesn’t have the skills to scare. The original is regarded as a classic for a reason. Carpenter knew how to create suspense and set the chilling tone right from the beginning. Where the Master of Horror used a methodical technique, Green uses handheld cameras and jump scares. While I now like two of his three “Halloween” films, he probably shouldn’t consider himself a gifted director of Horror.
I cannot say the positives completely outweigh what is wrong with the film (the ommision of a palpable sense of fear is the biggest mistake), but they are (mostly) strong enough to ultimately win out.
While there must have been a more wholly satisfying legacy sequel to be made, there is enough good within “Halloween Ends” to help it reach the finish line. It may be limping, but it just makes it.
Written by Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, Danny McBride, & David Gordon Green
Directed by David Gordon Green
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, James Jude Courtney, Andi Matichak, Rohan Campbell, Will Patton, Kylie Richards
R, 111 Minutes, Blumhouse Productions, Mirimax, Rough House Pictures