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.
THE FINAL HOWL
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