If we expect Halloween 3, it took twelve movies, four timelines, and nearly 45 years to get to this point. If there was such a thing as “truth in advertising” in movie titles, it would be the final arc of one of Movie-dom’s longest-running horror franchises. But, things being what they are, finality can be slippery and if there’s money to be made, at some point someone will find a way to exhume Michael Myers. If he returns, however, it will be without Jamie Lee Curtis, David Gordon Green and John Carpenter. For now, however, Halloween has finally reached its end of long gestation. And, given the various indignities inflicted on Michael Myers over the years (aside from the first film, a few isolated moments in Halloween 4 and H20, and the recent Green Trilogy, there haven’t been many “good ones”), that’s not a bad way to go out. At least he has the merit of trying something new.
When Green teamed up with Blumhouse to resurrect Michael in a new trilogy, he came with specific demands. The first was that John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis were to be on board – the former was convincing but eventually agreed to work as a composer and contribute to the story. The second was that each installment would have specific goals. And the third was that there would be an end. Michael had already fallen into oblivion three times, largely because his appeal was limited. You can only go to the well a certain number of times.
2018 Halloween paid homage to Carpenter’s original while functioning as a direct sequel (throwing everything from the first Halloween 2 per second). 2021 halloween kills asked existential questions about the nature of evil and the ugliness of mob mentality. Now, Halloween ends concludes the packet by taking a plot element dropped at the end of Halloween 4 and reuse it for a new scenario. (Halloween 5
would have been a much better movie had it followed the path taken by Green and his writers.)
The film opens with a seemingly unrelated flashback to 2019, the night of Michael’s comeback engagement, but that scene doesn’t involve the serial killer with Captain Kirk’s decaying mask. Instead, it features Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell), a 21-year-old babysitter who is about to have a very bad night. After the opening credits (yes, some movies still have them) set to the iconic “Halloween Theme,” there’s a four-year time jump. The film takes its time to reintroduce familiar characters: Laurie Strode (Curtis), who has seemingly found a way to come to terms with her lot in life; his granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak); police officer Hawkins (Will Patton); and Corey. Following his trip, Michael (James Jude Courtney), was not seen. But like all movie monsters, he simply hides and, around 40 minutes, he returns. This time, however, Michael does not kill his first victim, who happens to be Corey. Instead, he looks deep into his soul and transfers some of the “evil” that infects him. A new serial killer is born but Michael is still there, on his way to a final showdown with the one who got away. (Because how could we end Halloween without it?)
Despite the too long configuration, which consumes 1/3 of the operating time, there are still many opportunities to increase the number of bodies. It’s not as extreme as in halloween kills, but it exceeds a dozen. The film tells a different story than its predecessors – one that surprised me with the direction it took for many characters, including Michael – and is comfortable doing something other than re-plowing overgrown territory. There’s no shortage of fan service (there are plenty of clips from 1978 Halloween) and Green occasionally throws a jump scare. It also has a bit of fun with how tropes have changed since the 80s by showing the prototypical hot young lady getting ready for a shower and not revealing an inch of flesh for the camera. (We know how this scene would have played out in any movie during the original slasher phase.)
The film allows for some character development. Laurie is closer to the character we first met on the streets of Haddonfield in 1978 than at any time since, and Jamie Lee Curtis finds a way to play her as both a haunted survivor and a grandmother seeking to redirect her later years. Allyson crossed the path from a typical teenage girl to a lonely, lost soul. Officer Hawkins made contact with his mortality. And even Michael is no longer the same. His emotionless devotion to murder remains intact but age is slowing him down and, like Emperor Palpatine, he is ready to recruit an apprentice.
Although Halloween ends is a more than serviceable slasher flick, its old-school take on horror might feel dated compared to the stream of more complex new films in Hollywood’s post-pandemic pipeline. Still, Michael and Laurie have paid their dues to earn this retelling of a final tale and, at least for those who enjoyed the original and Green’s revisits, it’s a welcome way to wrap up what has been a long (and sometimes strange) journey.
Halloween Ends (US, 2022)