“You should give in.”
Mature and scarred on the surface yet often sullenly morose and jejune on the inside, Halloween Ends is destined to be one of the most divisive film finales I’ve ever seen. It honors legacy while paving new paths to its abrupt final destination, and I imagine it’s the complete opposite of what most moviegoers want going in. This is not a blood and guts slasher; that’s been done over and over again. This one is brooding. Halloween Ends feels like the earlier works of director David Gordon Green, channeling his own independent origins as well as those of Gus Van Stant’s catalogue, all while imbuing Green’s unique storytelling sensibilities and tastes. It’s both distinctive and ultimately wildly uneven. It hits as often as it misses.
Halloween Ends gets going with a memorable sequence that ends with a scream soaked still frame, and its honors the lore of yesteryear by rousing up all of the trauma and drama experienced to this point in this trilogy. We’re introduced to and begin diving into the muddied depths of Corey (Rohan Campbell), a bullied outsider whose personal circumstances have led him to a life of isolation. Like everyone else in Haddonfield, Corey knows the history of Michael Myers, at times even showing the Boogeyman some idolatry. Corey’s been persecuted by classmates and folks around town, painted as a monster for a mishap that was induced by real fear years ago. It haunts him and changes him, and he wears it like a badge of dishonor. He’s the film’s unwilling and unhappy leading man. But Corey isn’t the star of the show either. Neither is Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis).
While 2018’s Halloween was a lukewarm and bludgeoning reawakening of the franchise and 2021’s Halloween Kills was literally a laughable take on the monstrosity of mob mentality, David Gordon Green’s latest – and I presume last – outing feels the most sincere to his sensibilities even when it’s not all that successful as a film. He makes quirky movies, is known for entering a character’s head and thought process through moody voice overs, and that’s what happens here as Corey slowly slides into a fear fueled frenzy. It’s the first in the trilogy that truly feels like a David Gordon Green picture. Some of it looks like and reminded me Green’s 2003 film All the Real Girls, which is unsurprising since Danny McBride was a costar in that feature and became a cowriter for this trilogy. But the story struggles to blend the new with the old, and Corey’s forced relationship with Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) muddles the lurking and preying of Michael on Laurie. The plot plods on but the story itself is always torn between here and there.
Terror can make us do terrible things, and if there’s any point to these latest chapters in the Michael Myers saga, it’s to emphasize that there are varying degrees of evil. Michael is the antithesis of humanity, walking around in a mask and wielding a knife, looking to kill for the sake of it. He’s a monster. And with Halloween Ends, David Gordon Green questions how that long lasting and troubling legacy effects the people left behind in his wake. The film explores what these movies might become with a new generation, gives Laurie her rightful vengeance (even if the big fight scene is poorly lit and unforgettably shot), and has the guts to definitively show us some finality and proper closure. Halloween Ends is a bit of a mess structurally, but it has more personality and catharsis than the previous pictures combined, and with a property this lucrative, I have to imagine that this ending is only the signal of something new yet familiar on the horizon. This end is only the beginning.
“The truth is evil doesn’t die; it changes shape.”
Rating: 3 out of 5