October 15, 2022

“Halloween Ends” the Franchise, One Way or Another (Review)

By all rights, it shouldn’t be difficult making more movies about a masked serial killer murdering debaucherous individuals in progressively intense ways, but at a certain point, why stick with the formula? At this point, it’s tired and worn out, and could do with an upgrade.

Slasher films in general aren’t necessarily known for their creativity, which is why
Halloween Ends is one of the most interesting horror movies that has come out this year. I don’t use that descriptor because of what the movie contains, but primarily the ideas it presents, and the methods it uses to subvert all the tropes it possibly can. I also use “interesting” because it’s a word that can go either way, positively or negatively. My feelings are complicated on this one.

Taking its cue from one of the countless unmade Halloween sequels (see the marvelous making-of tome “Taking Shape” for more details on that front), Halloween Ends picks up four years after Michael Myers’ second violent rampage, which spanned from 2018’s Halloween to 2021’s Halloween Kills. Original final girl Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is living with her orphaned granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). Though they are trying to move on, both are still processing the events from the one night that permanently changed their lives.

To say much more would be delving into the gray realm of describing too much. But how does Michael factor into all of this? What has he been doing for the past four years? Where could one hour and fifty minutes of story possibly be mined from a simple aftermath tale?

To all of those questions, my answer would be “you’d be surprised.” Some are paid off satisfyingly, most are not. Halloween Ends takes a unique approach to ending a franchise, admittedly turning into something I’d never seen before or expected to see for a while. I’m sure part of that was not being sure exactly what I was getting into, or where the series could possibly go from here aside from a final confrontation between Laurie or Michael — which is certainly not a spoiler, giving that it’s all over this film’s marketing.

If we take the story out of the equation, Halloween Ends is a really fascinating examination of trauma, herd mentality and the inevitability of evil, all valuable themes carried over from the previous film. It’s nearly spotless theme-wise, but the execution is so disconnected and oftentimes borderline disorienting, to the point where I was constantly asking myself what the purpose of it all actually was. Is evil born, or is it created? I’m not sure, and this movie doesn’t particularly care in exploring those questions beyond plainly asking them.

Halloween Ends is a starkly different beast from anything that has come before it. I respect it for its bold strokes and a genuinely engaging premise, but it takes far too long to get started, heavily intent on recapping everything that came before and re-doing character beats that were central in the previous two franchise entries. Then again, Halloween Ends also goes to some truly unhinged places, and though it doesn’t all fit together perfectly, it’s original and unexpected, which is more than can be said for most franchise fare these days.

But the one thing I can’t forgive Halloween Ends for is doing an irreversible disservice to not one, but both of its now-iconic female leads. Both Laurie Strode and Allyson Nelson are not given very much to do beyond offer support (or lack thereof) to the storylines of others. Especially after Laurie was hospital-bound for the entirety of Halloween Kills, this feels like shamefully lazy storytelling, clearly written by people who were not sure entirely how to use these characters that were well-built for the majority of their previous appearances.

This is definitely one way to end a franchise.
Halloween Ends drops the ball a few too many times to take it too seriously, and takes the concept of “dumb horror movie characters” and knocks it up a few too many notches for me to keep buying into it. I am incredibly curious to see how this movie ages, and if there will be a resurgence for this mostly-maligned horror trilogy sometime in the future. I may not be enamored with many of the decisions it made, but I can respect its resolve and finality, which not many horror movies would be willing to commit to.

Plus, John Carpenter’s musical score and the opening credits continue to be all-timers. Watch this movie for those alone.

Halloween Ends is playing now in theaters and streaming on Peacock.

1 comment:

  1. Halloween Ends was horrible, it should not have been made. Clearly it was a Mistake to have went with that story line!!! Micheal Never Dies