Lunar Cycle - November 2022

Since I don’t have as much time to write longer reviews than I used to, I figured I would just post shorter reviews for horror/cult films that I feel deserve your attention.

Directed By:
Thom Eberhardt Starring: Catherine Mary Stewart, Kelli Maroney, Robert Baltran, Sharon Farrell, Mary Woronov, Geoffrey Lewis Genre: Horror/Science Fiction/Comedy/Zombies Running Time: 95 Minutes Score: 3 Howls Outta 4 (8 out of 10) Plot: Two girls from the Valley wake up to find that a passing comet has eradicated their world and left behind a mysterious red-dust and a pack of cannibal mutants. With the help of a friendly truck driver, the girls save the earth from a villainous “think tank,” karate chop their way through flesh-eating zombies, and, of course, find time to go to the mall.

Review: Thom Eberhardt’s cult flick NIGHT OF THE COMET is the post-apocalyptic sci-fi horror film for those nostalgic for arcade games, mall shopping and satire on Reaganism and consumerism. Inspired by multiple 50’s B-movies, THE OMEGA MAN and DAWN OF THE DEAD, this movie takes a dystopian world and infuses it with neon lights, new-wave and pop-rock and a rad vibe due to colorful characters who have a sarcastic view on their new reality. The film is boosted by fun lead performances from Catherine Mary Stewart [Regina] and Kelli Maroney [Samantha], who bring intelligence and toughness [Regina] or clueless, yet bubbly sass to lighten up the mood [Samantha]. It also helps NIGHT OF THE COMET having a good supporting cast as well, including future Star Trek: Voyager star Robert Baltran as love interest Hector and Mary Woronov playing a kind scientist who has to deal with colleagues who want to use any survivors as test subjects for their own survival. Eberhardt’s direction infuses a lot of mood and atmosphere through great cinematography by Arthur Albert, who captures the desolate isolation of an empty Los Angeles during Christmastime. The set locations, like the radio station and the mall are used really well and place NIGHT OF THE COMET during a certain era. From piles of dust due to curious people staring at a comet, to zombies who want to attack our survivors, Eberhardt shoots everything with a nice pace and a switching of tones that organically takes a serious topic and turns it into something lighthearted that makes the film’s message easier to swallow. I do wish the film had embraced its horror aspect more, as we barely deal with any zombies throughout much of the film. The film is more of a comedy than a horror movie anyway, but some tension would have been nice. I also think the film’s ending is a bit hokey and cheesy, only there to bring back an Easter egg from the opening moments of the movie. But other than that, NIGHT OF THE COMET is a good time if you’re looking for some light cinema that embraces its cheese.
Directed By:
Tarsem Singh Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Vincent D’Onofrio, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Sutherland, Dylan Baker, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Jake Weber, Dean Morris Genre: Horror/Science Fiction/Thriller Running Time: 107 Minutes Score: 3 Howls Outta 4 (7 out of 10) Plot: A psychotherapist journeys inside a comatose serial killer in the hopes of saving his latest victim.

Review: An underrated sci-fi police procedural, 2000’s THE CELL would probably be forgotten about if it weren’t for the strength of the movie’s leads and the impressive visual presentation by director Tarsem Singh and cinematographer Paul Laufer. The visuals, especially, are what make THE CELL stand out from other contemporaries of the time like THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and SE7EN, resembling more films like 1984’s DREAMSCAPE or A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET flick. Each scene inside any of the leads’ minds looks like a music video, which is not surprising since Singh directed R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” [a scene in the film actually resembles one of the set pieces from that very video]. This is the work of a man who has let his imagination run wild, with so many stylish motifs inspired by famous art pieces. There’s fashion happening throughout the movie, with the actors given different looks to play off of. Even so, everything visually seems a bit off, with colors being both bright and muted at the same time, while figures in the background throw you off with strange poses and interesting visual aspects that don’t seem right to the human eye. It’s a stunning looking film with disturbing images, like a serial killer hovering over his victim via hooks through his naked back, or someone getting cut up to the point where their intestines are pulled out and played with. Even in 2022, I’m still impressed by this film’s strong direction. The cast seems game for all of it. In particular, Vincent D’Onofrio stands out as the film’s villain - getting to haunt our heroes while wearing strange outfits and headpieces, enjoying the moment to play a menacing presence for much of the movie. Even his quieter moments stand out, revealing a real person despite the evil that permeates through him. Jennifer Lopez is much more quiet and sympathetic as our heroine, allowing the looks she displays throughout to speak for her much louder than her dialogue. Vince Vaughn is good as the supporting FBI Agent who shares memorable moments with both lead actors. The only negative is really the pedestrian and predictable police procedural that plays out, mainly in the film’s final act. There’s nothing really special about it and plays out exactly as one would expect it to. There are no real twists and turns when it comes to the story, and the film never really explains how one can travel into someone’s mind all that elaborately. I guess the film needs this plot to drive the action forward, but it’s honestly the least memorable thing about THE CELL. Still, THE CELL is a film I feel that should be watched at least once, or revisited if you haven’t seen it in a while. It’s still a visually impressive work of art that shows that originality and creativity can go a long way in a feature film.
Directed By:
David Guy Levy Starring: Brittany Snow, Jeffrey Combs, Jonny Coyne, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Enver Gjokaj, Sasha Grey, John Heard, Robin Lord Taylor Genre: Thriller/Horror Running Time: 93 Minutes Score: 3 Howls Outta 4 (7 out of 10) Plot: Desperate to help her ailing brother, a young woman agrees to compete in a deadly game of “Would You Rather”, hosted by a sadistic aristocrat.

Review: I was expecting a lame rip-off of films of the “torture porn” era like SAW or HOSTEL. But WOULD YOU RATHER is surprisingly a tense little thriller with some decent-to-good performances and cringe-worthy moments due to director David Guy Levy letting one’s imagination create something more gruesome than what appears on screen [or lack thereof]. Following SAW’s footsteps in tackling the concept of playing with one’s ethics and morality when it comes to surviving a terrible situation - in this case, with an added incentive of the last person standing with a large sum of money - the film does a pretty good job mixing noble and kindhearted characters with those who take pleasure in hurting others like it’s some sort of sport. While not the most developed screenplay with dynamic characters, the storytelling does enough to give us a glimpse of the different personalities who are part of this devious game and why they choose to make the decisions they make as things get more desperate towards the end. The games played in WOULD YOU RATHER aren’t really visualized in a gruesome way like the “games” that are presented in the SAW films. But the ideas behind them are pretty twisted. Would you rather electrocute the person next to you, or yourself? Would you rather whip a person’s back until they bleed to death, or stab someone with an ice pick instead? Or maybe you’d like to submerge your head in a barrel of water for two minutes or take your chances with a mystery card? Director David Guy Levy does a nice job building tension and suspense over the character’s choices and their subsequent actions, whether good or bad. Despite not being a stylish movie, Levy allows the script and the actors to be the focal point. Considering the low budget, this is definitely a good move. The actors play their parts well. The standouts are Brittany Snow as a sympathetic player who is constantly in conflict with her morality due to wanting to save her sick brother and needing the money to pay their bills, Jeffrey Combs as a hammy upper class host who twirls his proverbial mustache any chance he gets, and Robin Lord Taylor as the snobby rich son who got his kicks watching people in need suffer. WOULD YOU RATHER is a bit of an underrated little horror flick that I wasn’t expecting to enjoy as much as I did. There’s nothing really special about it, but the actors are mostly fine and the tension and suspense created by the screenplay and direction are solid. I was caught up in what I was watching and the ending is a bit of a kick to the nuts. If you got 90 minutes to spare, this is not a bad film to fill that time.


Lunar Cycle - October 2022

Since I don’t have as much time to write longer reviews than I used to, I figured I would just post shorter reviews for horror/cult films that I feel deserve your attention.


Directed By: David Bruckner

Starring: Odessa A’zion, Jamie Clayton, Adam Faison, Drew Starkey, Brandon Flynn, Aoife Hinds, Goran Visnjic

Genre: Horror/Slasher/Demons

Running Time: 121 Minutes

Score: 3 Howls Outta 4 (7 out of 10)

Plot: A young woman struggling with addiction comes into possession of an ancient puzzle box, unaware that its purpose is to summon the Cenobites, a group of sadistic supernatural beings from another dimension.



- The updated Cenobite designs. Instead of the usual leather S&M attire, their suits are nothing but their mutilated skin. It was a welcome change for this reboot.

- Despite having big shoes to fill, Jamie Clayton was excellent as the new Pinhead [or The Priest]. She came across as very menacing and added her own flair and personality to a popular role.

- All the actors were solid - especially Odessa A'zion as the lead [Riley] and Drew Starkey as Trevor [Riley's boyfriend].

- I didn't mind the slasher elements. Resembling A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET movie at times, I enjoyed the angle of having to sacrifice a certain amount of people to the Lament Configuration to gain some sort of wish/power.

- David Bruckner's direction was good and the cinematography by Eli Born is beautiful and polished. It's nice to see filmmakers caring about making a good HELLRAISER film again.


- The film is too tame for a HELLRAISER film. Off-screen deaths? Sex barely a factor? For a movie about demons focused on pleasure and pain, this film was really lacking in that department.

- Good actors but under-written roles for character archetypes I barely cared about. Besides the two leads and the Cenobites, the other characters were just fodder to me. No Kirsty, Julia or Frank to be found here.


A good reboot that will hopefully play it less safe in the next installment, HELLRAISER (2022) is the best installment since 1988’s HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II. But that isn’t saying a whole lot. Still, it’s nice that after 30 years, someone actually took the time to make a watchable installment in this troubled franchise.

TERRIFIER 2 (2022)

Directed By: Damien Leone

Starring: Lauren LaVera, David Howard Thornton, Elliott Fullam, Samantha Scaffidi, Casey Hartnett, Casey Hartnett 

Genre: Horror/Slasher

Running Time: 138 Minutes

Score: 3 Howls Outta 4 (8 out of 10)

Plot: After being resurrected by a sinister entity, Art the Clown returns to Miles County where he must hunt down and destroy a teenage girl and her younger brother on Halloween night. As the body count rises, the siblings fight to stay alive while uncovering the true nature of Art’s evil intent.



- The gore - oh, the gore! If you thought the first TERRIFIER was super gory, this sequel tops it in every way. Decapitations, heads being used as candy bowls, head explosions, mutilated bodies and so on. Just a brutal film in the violence department.

- David Howard Thornton and Lauren LaVera are really solid in their roles of Art the Clown and Final Girl Sienna. Thornton is creepier than ever as the villain, especially as we get to look into his mental state. He’s captivating to watch in every scene he’s in, just with a simple smile. LaVera is a great Final Girl who comes across as smart, sassy and tough. I’d love to see more of her in the future because she definitely has star potential.

- I liked the addition of a lore for Art the Clown. Unlike the first film where there was really nothing to the character, this sequel adds a ton and makes Art super interesting. We get to look into his mind to see what makes him tick, while the protagonists seem to have a strange connection to the clown that adds a creepy layer on to why he appears to be targeting them. I love slashers that have an actual story to chew on.

- Damien Leone’s direction is more confident than it was in the first TERRIFIER. A lot of shots show a ton of style. The brutal murder sequences are choreographed super well. The sets and locations are infused with strange editing and lighting choices that create a bleak mood and atmosphere. And for much of the long runtime, I thought the movie had a nice pace going for it. Leone stepped up his game with this one.


- The two-hour-plus run time isn’t necessary for this sequel. No slasher should be over two hours, especially when it loses steam like TERRIFIER 2. There are moments where the film could have ended, and it just felt like it kept going and going until we reached a strange mid-credits sequence that really needs to be explained in the third film. This is a homage to an 80s slasher movie, not THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

- A lot of the acting from the supporting characters was cheesy and a bit over-the-top to take seriously. I’m guessing Leone was going for 80s B-movie acting? I would have been down with that if your lead actress wasn’t performing her role in a serious manner. Some of the reactions to things by some of the performers felt either wooden or just unintentionally comical. It’s fun to watch, but the tone becomes uneven because of it.

- There are some story elements that really needed to be explained. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the film left me with more questions than answers - especially concerning the relationship between Art the Clown and the protagonists. It made the narrative feel unfinished, although this could possibly be explained in the next installment. But honestly, the answers should have been revealed within its own movie.


TERRIFIER 2 is light years better than the 2016 original. There’s actually an interesting story this time around with decent characters you want to root for, the gore is more brutal than ever, solid lead performances and really great direction by Damien Leone. Despite a lack of substance and lingering questions to certain subplots, cheesy acting and a run time that isn’t justified to be over two hours long, TERRIFIER 2 is one of the better and more fun horror films of 2022. Considering my indifference to the first film, this was a genuine surprise for the better. I look forward to seeing where this franchise goes next because we need more fun slashers like this one in our lives.

THEY/THEM (2022)

Directed By: John Logan

Starring: Theo Germaine, Kevin Bacon, Quei Tann, Austin Crute, Monique Kim, Anna Lore, Anna Chlumsky, Carrie Preston, Boone Platt

Genre: Horror/Thriller/Slasher

Running Time: 101 Minutes

Score: 1 Howl Outta 4 (3 out of 10)

Plot: Campers at an LGBTQ+ conversion camp endure unsettling psychological techniques while the campsite is stalked by a mysterious killer.



- Kevin Bacon and some of the other actors. It’s nice to see Bacon returning to his campsite horror roots, considering his first major horror role was in 1980’s FRIDAY THE 13TH. He always plays a great villain, and he makes the most of his twisted role as a therapist at a gay conversion camp. Other actors, like Theo Germaine and Austin Crute, also make an impression as the teen victims at this camp.

- The picture looks nice. It’s a Blumhouse vehicle, so of course the cinematography is very good. I think more could have been done with the location, but it’s a nicely polished movie.

- THEY/THEM has a great concept. There should be more movies catered to the LGBTQ+ community and the idea of a conversion camp is horrifying on so many levels. There’s no need for a slasher villain when you have poor teens being put through things that are supposed to “make them normal”. The film does touch on some of those things as the counselors get more vicious with their daily exercises. Unfortunately…


- THEY/THEM has a bad execution. For a film with commentary on how terrible gay conversion camps are, the film barely does anything with that idea. We get a scene with shock therapy. We get uncomfortable scenes in a regular therapy session with counselors belittling the campers. But other than that, not much is done because the film is trying to be a slasher movie too. About that…

- The film is a terrible slasher movie. We get one kill in the opening. And then we have to wait about an hour or so until some slashing goes on. Not only are the murder sequences done off-screen [lame], but the slasher aspect doesn’t help THEY/THEM at all besides giving the film a bit of action and motivation. If you’re not going to bother with any stalking and slashing in your slasher movie, then you’re doing it wrong. Besides, the gay conversion stuff is the real horror and they wasted potential on that as well.

- What was John Logan thinking? While Logan has written some great movies like GLADIATOR, SWEENEY TODD and SKYFALL, his direction leaves a lot to be desired. As an openly gay filmmaker, you would think he would probably be more careful with this type of movie more than most. But Logan plays it too safely and would rather focus on stereotypes and being hateful towards the community rather than providing a thoughtful commentary on the evils of these camps hurting people who have nothing wrong with them. I see that Logan wanted to make his own version of GET OUT here, but the film doesn’t have anything really to say, And when it does, it’s confusing and kind of insulting at times. Even the slasher portion is weak because it’s a whodunit with just one suspect. How does that work?? What a waste of potential.

- That P!nk musical moment. I love P!nk. I enjoy her song “F*cking Perfect”. And I was okay with the young actors singing the first couple of lines of the song as a way to bond. But then they just kept going like it was an episode of Glee - and not a good episode either. This was really cringe. I pretty much checked out at that point.


THEY/THEM is a film that had so much potential to be something important for the LGBTQ+ horror community with its conversion camp concept, while adding a slasher element to it considering Kevin Bacon was starring in the film. Unfortunately, the commentary is a confusing mess that probably does more harm than good. The film is only really a slasher for the last 15 minutes, with no real tension or suspense leading to the murder sequences. We have random musical moments that almost made me want to stop watching [I hope they paid you well, P!nk]. The best I can say about THEY/THEM is that the film looks nice and most of the acting is fine [especially Kevin Bacon]. Stick with HELLBENT for a good LGBTQ+ slasher and BUT I’M A CHEERLEADER for a great film that involves the perils of conversion therapy. The most clever thing about THEY/THEM is unfortunately its title.


Directed By: Scott Derrickson

Starring: Mason Thames, Ethan Hawke, Madeleine McGraw, Jeremy Davies, E. Roger Mitchell, Troy Rudeseal, James Randsone

Genre: Horror/Thriller

Running Time: 103 Minutes

Score: 3 Howls Outta 4 (7 out of 10)

Plot: Finney Shaw, a shy but clever 13-year-old boy, is abducted by a sadistic killer and trapped in a soundproof basement where screaming is of little use. When a disconnected phone on the wall begins to ring, Finney discovers that he can hear the voices of the killer’s previous victims. And they are dead set on making sure that what happened to them doesn’t happen to Finney.



- The lead actors carried this movie. Child actors could be hit-or-miss when it comes to horror films, but Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw were fantastic as two siblings who live in an abusive household and soon have to deal with The Grabber. Thames is convincing as a shy kid who has to learn to fend for himself to get out of a dangerous situation. McGraw is even better as the worried sister who uses her dreams to see what’s going on in order to save her brother and other children who may be targeted. Add Ethan Hawke in a small, yet really creepy role as the Grabber and you got yourself some great acting that will keep you invested from beginning to end.

- Scott Derrickson’s direction was pretty solid throughout. Best known for his work on 2012’s SINISTER and 2016’s DOCTOR STRANGE, his work on THE BLACK PHONE isn’t as strong or as stylish as those two movies. But the 70s aesthetic works throughout and the supernatural elements involving the phone calls and the psychic dreams add a nice level of tension and suspense to this thriller. I thought Derrickson did a good job bringing Joe Hill’s short story to life.

- I thought Joe Hill’s story was adapted quite well. The main characters are fleshed out enough for us to understand them. The situation is brought to life in a tense and creepy way. I liked how the film was less of a horror movie and more of a police procedural at times - as well as a strange coming-of-age story for Finney, who takes the lessons of the Grabber’s previous victims in order to have a fighting chance of surviving. Some might feel the film was too long considering Hill’s story is pretty short and to the point. But I never felt like it dragged a ton and thought the material was handled well. 

- I love The Grabber’s creepy mask. If you ever needed a mask to put some fear into people during the Halloween season, that’s definitely a choice. I thought it added some creepy personality to The Grabber when he would be quiet to intimidate Finney.


- The film needed a bit more backstory. I felt things happened and none of them were really explained. Why are the phone calls supernatural? Why can Finney and The Grabber hear them? Why is the sister a psychic like her late mother? Why was Finney chosen by the previous victims to be the one to stop The Grabber? How did The Grabber’s brother, who was living with him, not realize what was going on until it was too late? Sometimes it’s better not to know these things, but I feel since this isn’t a movie meant to create a franchise, some of these answers would have been appreciated.

- THE BLACK PHONE isn’t really a scary film. It has some creepy moments here and there, but it’s not a movie that will terrify people. I think it’s because we barely see The Grabber a whole lot and we’re more focused on Finney learning from the children before him how to escape his ordeal. I never really felt Finney’s fear, despite his desperation and frustration over how to get out of this situation. More of that would have added some much needed power to this film.


One of the better horror film releases of 2022, THE BLACK PHONE is carried by solid lead performances to create a creepy thriller involving a masked kidnapper and a cunning child who receives help from the afterlife to escape the kidnapper’s clutches. While Ethan Hawke isn’t in the film a whole lot, his presence as The Grabber can put a chill down your spine through his performance and use of a killer mask that will most likely gain a cult following for years to come. But it’s the work of child actors Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw who bring the heart to the film, portraying siblings who are caught in the Grabber’s web from different angles. SINISTER’s Scott Derrickson does a nice job adapting Joe Hill’s short story and capturing a creepy 70s aesthetic, while keeping his style simple to let the story and the performances be the focus. Do I wish the film was scarier? Yes. Do I wish certain plot devices [especially some of the supernatural aspects] were explained and developed better? Absolutely. But for what it is, THE BLACK PHONE is worth making a call for.


Directed By: Andrew Semans

Starring: Rebecca Hall, Grace Kaufman, Michael Esper, Angela Wong Carbone, Tim Roth

Genre: Thriller/Horror/Drama

Running Time: 103 Minutes

Score: 3 Howls Outta 4 (7 out of 10)

Plot: A woman’s carefully constructed life is upended when an unwelcome shadow from her past returns, forcing her to confront the monster she’s evaded for two decades.



- The two lead performances are fantastic. Rebecca Hall is a force of nature as Margaret, a woman who lives a mechanical and routine life until a man from her past destroys that once he returns in her life. Hall portrays a woman so in control of her own life that she slowly peels back those layers to reveal that she never was in control in the first place. Her performance grows more manic as the film moves along and her long monologue in the middle of the film where she reveals her truth is just wonderfully recited. It’s honestly a masterclass of trauma portrayed on screen. On the other hand, Tim Roth’s subtlety as David brings an eeriness to the film, displaying power just with a single look or a soft-spoken voice that rings louder than any yell. These two are wonderful as they play off the other, making them the reason to watch RESURRECTION

- The depiction of abuse is realistically displayed. From Margaret counseling interns about abusive relationships, to herself losing grip on reality as she spills her secret abusive past, RESURRECTION doesn’t hide how trauma can affect people. David’s presence alone upsets Margaret, telling us how powerful he is as a character without a single word. David doesn’t do anything, making Margaret lose control of herself and do rash things to make sure her control is maintained. This alienates her daughter. This pushes away a married co-worker she’s been having an affair with, who actually cares about her. It makes us wonder whether Margaret is being over-the-top and losing her mind, or if David really is this evil person who has done her tons of emotional harm. And when David gives Margaret simple commands to teach her “kindness”, which Margaret succumbs to out of habit, it shows that even the simplest of things can be abusive. Things reach a really weird and chilling climax, showing us that trauma can always be triggered no matter how much we try to control our lives away from the past.

- I enjoyed Andrew Semans’ simple direction. RESURRECTION is not a stylish film, but it’s a nice looking one with a pace that intensifies as Margaret loses control of herself. The edits get a bit crazier. Shots seem to be repeated to show this never ending cycle Margaret has put herself on. Tim Roth is always shot in a way that displays power. Rebecca Hall’s shot scales tend to get smaller and smaller, letting her blend more into the background before the climax. For the man’s second feature film, it’s some good stuff.


- I’m not sure how I feel about the film’s final act. While RESURRECTION does get a bit crazy in terms of what David’s motivations are with Margaret [won’t spoil it here], I felt the conclusion to the film was really jarring compared to everything that came before it. For a movie that was pretty grounded for most of its run time, going the David Lynch/David Cronenberg/Darren Aronofsky route wasn’t something I was expecting. I suspect it didn’t hit me as hard due to not having any past experience with abuse nor the struggle of being a parent. But it just left me confused as to what I was supposed to get out of the very end of the film. Maybe I have to watch it a few times to get a true interpretation on the things that happen in the final moments. I respect the storytelling, but I’m not sure if I connected to it other than feeling weird about it.


While the final act jarred me quite a bit, to the point that I’m still trying to figure out what I saw and what it actually means, I felt RESURRECTION was a good psychological thriller that handled the trauma of abuse quite well. Through Andrew Semans’ direction that starts out simple but intensifies as certain characters start to lose control of their situation, we see through his eyes that trauma isn’t something one can control or hide once triggered by an outside force that will quietly help you fester in it and do you harm. The lead performances by Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth are excellent. Going from mechanical and routine to chaotic and frantic, Hall’s portrayal of trauma is a masterclass in acting. Roth’s quiet menace has to also be applauded, as he does a lot with a simple look or soft-spoken dialogue that’s not as quiet as it seems. The Lynch/Cronenberg/Aronofsky type of ending left me a bit odd considering how grounded everything else was prior to it, but maybe it’ll require another watch or two to really feel the effects of its message. That being said, definitely seek this one out on Shudder if you have the time for a slow, psychological burn.


Halloween Ends (2022) [Spoiler Review]


David Gordon Green


Jamie Lee Curtis - Laurie Strode

Andi Matichak - Allyson Nelson

James Jude Courtney - Michael Myers/ The Shape

Will Patton - Deputy Frank Hawkins

Rohan Campbell - Corey Cunningham

Kyle Richards - Lindsey Wallace

Genre - Horror/Thriller/Drama/Slasher

Running Time - 111 Minutes


Four years after the events of Halloween in 2018, Laurie has decided to liberate herself from fear and rage and embrace life. But when a young man is accused of killing a boy he was babysitting, it ignites a cascade of violence and terror that will force Laurie to finally confront the evil she can’t control, once and for all.


Man, if you thought the division over last year’s HALLOWEEN KILLS was bad, it’s nothing compared to the ugly divide for the end of David Gordon Green’s trilogy, HALLOWEEN ENDS. While I’m in the majority of enjoying the 2018 reboot/sequel, I was one of the few who actually preferred KILLS due to its silliness and fun time. I can’t say I was looking all that forward to ENDS though, as big of a HALLOWEEN fanboy that I am. Considering the ridiculous writing of KILLS, it was tough to get hyped up for this movie despite the promise of a final encounter between Michael Myers and Laurie Strode. Still, I went to theaters on opening Friday night with friends to watch this and… well, I may have been the most positive person for this movie. Then seeing all the vitriol and arguments over the quality of the movie on social media, I wanted to step away from reviewing this movie until I had another chance to watch it on Peacock.

Having done so, my opinions on HALLOWEEN ENDS haven't changed much. And I do think it’s the lesser of the three David Gordon Green films, even though it has the most ambition going for it. It’s also not the worst HALLOWEEN film in the franchise, despite what many other fans are saying. This dude also isn’t signing a petition for a redo either. HALLOWEEN ENDS is a film with interesting story elements going for it. They’re just in the wrong movie.

This review will be a spoiler filled one because I can’t share my thoughts without revealing plot elements. So if you haven’t watched the film yet, stop right here. If you have or you don’t care, keep on reading.

So HALLOWEEN ENDS’ issues stem from the fact that the wrong story is being told for the finale of this divisive trilogy. I saw a lot of defenders of this film criticizing those complaining that they would have preferred a simple Michael vs. Laurie finale instead of what we eventually got. I mean, can you blame anyone thinking a movie called HALLOWEEN ENDS would be about an epic conclusion to the Michael Myers and Laurie Strode story that started way back in 1978? In fact, this entire DGG trilogy was pretty much set up and marketed as a way for these two horror icons to have their final confrontation so Jamie Lee Curtis could exit the franchise a lot better than she had in HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION. The 2018 film and HALLOWEEN KILLS put these two characters at the center of the marketing, making fans anticipate an eventual conclusion that would see this feud finally having an end. Even the trailers for HALLOWEEN ENDS seemed to focus on the one-on-one fight between Michael and Laurie, as well as the posters. If a studio is promoting a trilogy in a certain way, fans are going to expect that. So you can’t really blame them when HALLOWEEN ENDS isn’t that film at all.

HALLOWEEN ENDS isn’t even about Laurie and Michael, who honestly feel like supporting characters in this movie. The film is centered by a newly created character named Corey Cunningham, who is now Haddonfield’s latest pariah after accidentally murdering a young boy he was babysitting on Halloween 2019. The town looks down on him. Marching band high schoolers bully him any chance they can get. The parents of the murdered child understandably make a scene whenever he’s around. And while his stepfather has given him a job and treats him well, his mother coddles him every chance she can get to the point of it becoming incestuous at times. Corey is a victim in Haddonfield.

Laurie sees that and saves Corey from the bullies, knowing what it’s like to be a pariah herself. She introduces Corey to her granddaughter Allyson, who instantly becomes infatuated with him. Due to their respective trauma, they connect and fall for each other. While this goes on, Corey encounters Michael, who has been living in sewers for the past four years. While Michael attacks him, Michael sees something in Corey that makes him change his attack and wants to help him. Corey, seeing something in Michael that reminds him of himself, wants to learn from the killer - to the point that the two start tag teaming on people in Haddonfield out of revenge.

As you can see, nothing about Laurie confronting Michael and vice-versa is anywhere in the above paragraphs. That’s because the film isn’t about that. It’s about a character study for a newly introduced character who, tired of being looked down upon and treated like crap in his hometown, snaps and wants vengeance on those he feels has wronged him. That includes Laurie, who sees “Michael’s eyes” in Corey after he encounters the killer.

It seems that Michael may have transferred some of his evil - his “Shape” - into Corey, turning Corey more into Michael throughout the film. Also in a similar way that Michael may have transferred his “Shape” into Dr. Sartain in 2018’s movie, as well as doing the same to the entire town of Haddonfield in HALLOWEEN KILLS. Corey is Arnie to Michael’s Christine, which was David Gordon’s Green main influence on this film. There’s also a bit of THE LOST BOYS and ROMEO AND JULIET. But what the film mainly isn’t is a traditional HALLOWEEN movie.

I personally think the Corey Cunningham angle is a really solid one, because it hasn’t really been done much in a HALLOWEEN movie. The closest we’ve gotten were with Jamie Lloyd in HALLOWEEN 4 and the remake Laurie Strode during Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN II - two characters who shared some sort of psychic connection with Michael Myers to turn them slightly evil and continue his work. Considering that Michael Myers is pretty much an old man in this trilogy, it would make sense for the character to want to continue his evil legacy through younger characters by passing on his evil from one shape to another. Corey is a character that’s well written enough and has motivation that would make it believable that he would continue what Michael had started in Haddonfield. The series could have had their own FRIDAY THE 13TH: A NEW BEGINNING with the Corey character in a possible trilogy on its own, making the town of Haddonfield believe that Michael Myers was still alive and well even if he was considered missing for years. Maybe with some added drama with Allyson finally seeing Corey for who he was and wanting to save him from the same fate, the series could have been revived in a fresher way.

The Corey idea is great and one I support. It’s just that it shouldn’t be in the final film of a trilogy that is meant to focus on Laurie and Michael meeting one last time.

Because of Corey being such a prominent character, it gives both Laurie and especially Michael the shaft in their own movie. Unlike HALLOWEEN KILLS, Laurie gets more to do. She’s writing a memoir on her life. She’s now a homemaker in a new house, trying to be a typical grandmother for Allyson [who is now acting out] after the loss of Karen at the hands of Michael. She’s trying to move on with her life and not let the trauma of the last 40 years define her and run her life. Yes, this change in Laurie’s character doesn’t really match what we’ve seen before, considering Laurie was Sarah Connor in the prior two movies. And I do see Laurie’s behavior being written backwards, as the trilogy’s events should have led to Laurie wanting to hunt down Michael and finish him. But trauma and grief do strange things to people and maybe the character wanted to be a good role model for her granddaughter, making up for what she couldn’t do for her own daughter.

Michael, on the other hand, is a shell of himself. Living in a sewer had made him weak and vulnerable, especially after the brutality he suffered at the end of HALLOWEEN KILLS. He lets others bring bodies to him, whether to kill them or possibly eat them [how else did he survive down there for four years]. Corey has to push Michael into teaching him how to kill, which seems to rejuvenate Michael a bit, establishing his transcendence from HALLOWEEN KILLS. This is not the same villain we’ve seen in previous films, as he struggles to get his groove back and isn’t even at his 100 percent against Laurie at the end.

The fight itself should be an epic battle, considering that this is what the trilogy has been leading to this whole time. But with both Laurie and Michael feeling like secondary characters in their own movie to a new character who is introduced here, it doesn’t feel earned for either character. Yes, the battle is pretty cool and both parties get their vicious shots in for a somewhat satisfying ending. But considering HALLOWEEN ENDS is really about Corey struggling with his demons and possibly taking over for The Shape due to Michael’s mentorship, the final confrontation feels forced because that’s the only way for this trilogy to end.

It sucks that many are hating this film because of the Corey character, considering his arc is the strongest in the film. If it were up to me, I would have done the final confrontation at the end of KILLS and made ENDS a standalone HALLOWEEN movie where Haddonfield believes Michael is still alive because random murders are happening again in their town. You could have introduced Corey in either the 2018 or KILLS as a love interest for Allyson and built him up in an organic way. I honestly wouldn’t mind a FRIDAY THE 13TH: A NEW BEGINNING vibe for this series, because Corey is an interesting character and has motivation for his turn to the dark side. That could have been a trilogy on its own, as Laurie and Allyson could have dealt with the fallout that while the human being dies, the evil inside of him doesn’t and can get passed on to other members of the community. It’s something John Carpenter wanted to do with his anthology and with his original concept for HALLOWEEN 4. Unlike back then, I think fans would have been ready for something different in the franchise. But shoehorning too many plot elements in what should be the finale of a trilogy wastes that potential. There’s a good story here somewhere, but for a different movie down the line.

The story also wastes characters like Deputy Frank Hawkins, who seemed to be on a redemption arc after the events of HALLOWEEN KILLS. But he’s barely used in the film and it's mainly to start a romance with Laurie. Lindsay is just a bartender who does tarot readings now. And Sheriff Barker only really appears at the end of the movie. I have no idea what went wrong with the writing here, but something must have changed because it doesn’t feel like the same people who worked on the previous two films here.

What I can be totally positive about is David Gordon Green’s visual presentation. In my opinion, this is his best visual work of the three films he worked on. Some of the murder sequences are pretty damn good, with the opening kill being the best. The junkyard and sewer sets are lit with nice shades of blues and yellows that adds a bit of atmosphere. The junkyard scenes, in particular, reminded me of 1983’s CHRISTINE, with a brutal murder sequence taking place there in the film’s final act. The film had good editing and while the pace could have been better [Michael should have shown up sooner], I understand what DGG was going for here with his attempt at a slow burn. Really nice looking film hampered by an unfocused screenplay.

The cast is very good though. In probably her best performance in the DGG trilogy, Jamie Lee Curtis gets to play with a lot of emotions as an older Laurie Strode who is trying to move past her trauma. She has great comedic moments. She’s charming as she brings back the shyness of her younger self. She’s also very strong in the final act as she reveals many layers to her character. 

I also liked Andi Matichak as Allyson, since she’s given the most to do here. Her scenes with Ronan Campbell felt natural and her explosive moments with Jamie Lee Curtis finally made her an interesting character. James Jude Courtney does well as an aging and weak Michael Myers. I don’t think the script does the character justice but Courtney makes it work. Will Patton is charming as Hawkins in the few scenes he’s in, while it’s always nice to see Kyle Richards outside of The Real Housewives franchise.

The real star is Rohan Campbell as Corey Cunningham, a completely new character who gets the biggest spotlight in a film that should have been about Laurie versus Michael. Despite that, Campbell makes Corey a fleshed out character who we can sympathize with despite his actions. He has chemistry with anyone he shares a scene with and would have been awesome in a standalone HALLOWEEN film focused on him outside of the trilogy. Unfortunately he’s getting a lot of hate for something beyond his control. Campbell is a rising star and who knows where his career will go after the reception of HALLOWEEN ENDS. But I really liked his performance and turned, what could have been an unlikable character, into someone I would have liked to have seen more of. 

And I can’t end this review without mentioning the score by John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies. The music is a lot more subtle than anything in the previous films, but it matched the quietness of HALLOWEEN ENDS. I think we can all agree that the music has been the best part of this trilogy.


It took me a while to gather my thoughts on HALLOWEEN ENDS, probably one of the more divisive horror movies I’ve seen on social media in many, many years. Having watched it once in theaters and then on Peacock, it allowed me to finally put into words how I felt about this finale of a trilogy that should have been more epic than it actually is. The performances are very good. The direction creates atmosphere and some nice visuals. The opening scene is the best thing about the film. The promoted confrontation between Laurie Strode and Michael Myers is fine but not as memorable as the one in 1998’s HALLOWEEN: H20. David Gordon Green and three other writers also bring ideas that create a freshness in the series that would be welcomed in a different movie that is not supposed to be the conclusion of a trilogy focused on the main heroine and her villain - two characters who feel like supporting characters to a newly created one who deserves his own movie to shine in. Personally, I would have had the final confrontation at the end of HALLOWEEN KILLS and done the Corey angle after that to bring something new to the HALLOWEEN franchise.

That being said, HALLOWEEN ENDS isn’t the worst film in this franchise, nor is it close to it. In fact, there’s a lot to like in this movie. My issue is don’t bring something different to a franchise where fans are prepared for something else because it was marketed heavily as such. If David Gordon Green wanted to remake CHRISTINE under the HALLOWEEN banner, he could have saved it until after finishing the Laurie versus Michael story first. That’s all I’m saying. Not a total misfire, but disappointing considering the final battle doesn’t really feel earned since the film’s focus is on someone else. I’m very curious to see where this franchise goes next without the Laurie Strode baggage.


2.5 Howls Outta 4

(6 out of 10)

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