BY JOHN CARTER JR
Spoiler Warning for Halloween Ends and Trigger Warning for Topics of Violence and Suicide
On Halloween night in the year of our lord 1978, the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois was attacked by an escapee of Smith’s Grove Sanitarium. Micheal Myers, 21, a ward of the psychiatric facility had been there since the young age of 6 after the slaying of his sister Judith. His psychiatrist, Dr. Samuel Loomis, attempted to follow an unintentional trail in the hopes it would lead to the killer. The clinician’s dissenting opinion however held no barring to the local authorities who ignored his cries for more serious action.
To the citizens of Haddonfield, this was simply an ordinary Halloween night. Although Horror movies, candy, and date nights were typical of the seasonal festivities, residents of the small community were about to meet the source of a generational trauma that would go on to haunt and terrorize them for nearly half a century. At the epicenter of that trauma was a teenage babysitter who chose life.
Produced by Blumhouse, Halloween Ends is the finale of the David Gordon Green Trilogy of films set directly after John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978). It is the most recent timeline of films in the Halloween franchise which follows the order of Halloween (1978), Halloween (2018), Halloween Kills (2021), and finally Halloween Ends (2022). The trilogy appears to act as a swan song for actress Jamie Lee Curtis who has recurrently played the original protagonist Laurie Strode throughout the past four decades.
Halloween Ends takes place four years after the previous two installments which occurred on the same night. The film deviates from the previous installments in terms of focus with the story now centering mostly around a new antagonistic force. Corey Cunningham, who after a terrible accident, is treated as a monster by the local community eventually attempts a metamorphosis. Through exposure to the original bogeyman, Michael Myers who has been in hiding for four years, Corey cocoons himself from the rest of the community beginning his transformation into a new monster, a new Micheal Myers.
In analyzing the film, there were both positive and negative facets that only became polarizing the more and the more the film went on. With two main opposing forces (not including Myers…) the film seems to play with the idea of enduring evil and those required to snuff it out with Laurie Strode being the representation of the latter and Corey after being exposed to Myers being the former.
Starting with the bad, Corey Cunningham himself is not a bad concept. The idea of a young individual being used as a scapegoat for a group’s collective trauma has been executed many times in film and television. Especially when the use of the scapegoat is associated with a personal trauma related to that particular individual, it sets up a sort of will he won’t he scenario with the character struggling between doing what’s right and their dark potential. The problem with the character, in the context of a series of films, lies in a jarring lack of pacing or build-up. We don’t have enough time with Corey to establish investment into him as a person.
The sequence we are given is a whiplash of brief moments where we try to get to know the character, meeting the boy he was before the influence of evil for only a few moments at the beginning of the film. Then rather than what I would describe as a progression of the character from trauma victim into a monster, the character is nearly immediately villainous and goes on to try to corrupt Laurie’s granddaughter, which gives long-time watchers of the series a sort of reverse uno card of progression for Allyson’s character.
Further issues come if audiences were to treat this film as a standalone story because of the Halloween elements which feel like they were stitched into an already-made script for another story. Feeling like a video game with skins that are unrelated to the storyline but important NPCs are wearing those skins and using the names of the characters they were made after. Corey’s arc ends unceremoniously with a suicide attempt that is seemingly played as a spectacle or play in his war against Laurie and Haddonfield. These kinds of instances make the film feel gratuitous for all the wrong reasons which further leaves a bad taste as this character choice was made in response to Laurie’s fake suicide attempt.
Finally a little good, however little of it this film has to offer. Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode is probably the best aspect of this film yet, even if her performance feels majorly shafted here, similar to the film’s treatment of Micheal Myers. Unlike Myers; however, who has been relegated to a glorified set piece, Laurie is actually given some significant on-screen time. She is fighting to have peace in her life and struggles every day with the trauma she has endured. No longer wanting to inflict any more of her trauma on her family Laurie attempts to heal with her granddaughter by living together. However, Laurie’s character needed not only more time in this film to show her progress but show a new means of handling her trauma. Did the film have these things? Sadly, the film did not.
The film feels like a bean burrito stuffed to the brim with rotten meat, unfoldable and indigestible – the kind of burrito that you think is a real shame to throw away because you feel guilty about how all these perfectly good ingredients got wasted in excess and in a lack of quality. So after a long time, the old tortilla diaper sitting in the fridge is eventually thrown away.
Knowing Halloween Ends could have been better and that the materials used to make the waste deserved better. Jamie Lee Curtis and the fans of the franchise deserved better.
The film ends with Strode on her porch with no more fear of her own bogeyman but still with fear. After the admittedly cathartic grinding of Micheal Myers, the film attempts to end hopefully but instead only feels bleak. Micheal getting ground into bits was only cathartic because this unnecessarily traumatic film was over, that this journey was over. The film feels even more hopeless, reminding us that even if this monster is gone the shape of evil will just take another form, and sadly Laurie Strode won’t always be around to ward it off.
I give Halloween Ends 5/10 Pumpkins for having so much potential only to be served rotten, feeling unfinished, tired, and frustrating.