Director: David Gordon Green
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney, Will Patton, Rohan Campbell, Kyle Richards
Screenplay: Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, Danny McBride, David Gordon Green
111 mins. Rated R for bloody horror violence and gore, language throughout and some sexual references.
It’s been 44 years since the world has been introduced to Michael Myers. In that time, we’ve had multiple timelines, retcons, and various mythologies, and in 2018, that was wiped clean (in a move I don’t generally agree with) when director David Gordon Green (Stronger, Our Brand Is Crisis) entered with a new take, a direct sequel to the 1978 original, bringing back a new iteration of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, True Lies, Trading Places) and streamlining the narrative for general audiences and the uninitiated viewer. Now, the final film in Green’s trilogy has arrived, Halloween Ends. For this lifelong Halloween fan, the expectations were high, and can Green’s finale stick the landing?
Four years after Michael Myers rampaged through Haddonfield, leaving numerous bodies in his wake, including Laurie Strode’s own daughter, the town has never truly recovered. Laurie has believed that, while Michael has not been seen since, his presence has poisoned the town, leading to murder, suicide, and a Haddonfield that is slowly consuming itself with hatred. Laurie has done everything in her power to get over the anger of the past, purchasing a new home for her and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak, Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List, Son), and trying out normalcy for once. When she sees another young man, Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell, The Professor, Operation Christmas Drop), struggling to live life in a town that sees him as another damaged soul, she takes a liking, introducing him to her granddaughter and trying to get him on the right path. It seems like Haddonfield might just heal, but unknown to its residents, Michael Myers is still in the town, just biding his time, ready to return.
As always, Jamie Lee Curtis is incredible in the role of Laurie Strode. She’s officially been in more installments of this franchise than Donald Pleasance, and with this newest trilogy, she’s truly gotten the spotlight to shine. This is as much, probably more, her story as it is Michael’s. This final chapter spends more time seeing her struggle to get right in her own mind than it does watching Myers hack-and-slashing. I particularly liked seeing her having fun, or trying, as Laurie, joking with Lindsay Wallace (Kyle Richards, Eaten Alive, The Car) or flirting with Frank Hawkins (Will Patton, Minari, After Hours). She’s a fully fleshed-out character in Green’s films.
The town of Haddonfield continues to be presented as a town in grief, stuck in trauma, but a fully-realized home to many captivating characters. When I talked about Halloween Kills, I discussed how real the town had felt, as Green had several background characters in Halloween 2018 return in Kills and fill out the town. That’s something that has lacked in just about any of the other sequels in this franchise. That continues, to a smaller extent, in Halloween Ends. That includes the rather inspired turns by Patton and Richards, who both continued to shine in this installment.
As a fan of Opening Credits, I have to celebrate the absolute perfection of this entire trilogy’s credit sequences. Having the 2018 Halloween showing a rotten pumpkin reforming, Green is telling us that we’re going all the way back to the beginning. In Halloween Kills, we get a number of Jack-o-Lanterns flying at us, symbolizing the mob mentality of Haddonfield, and with Halloween Ends (using a Blue Halloween III font), we get a series of Jack-o-Lanterns bursting through each other, as Green shows up how evil begets evil in this town, a theme for the finale.
Halloween Ends succeeds at looking back at the iconography of the entire series and playing it, sometimes as an expectation, other times like a subversion meant to showcase how far we’ve come on this journey, and how, while some things change, some things remain the same. The use of cues like “Don’t Fear the Reaper” and certain visuals from the original film, like Michael’s sitting up behind Laurie, are excellently pursued and make their mark. The same can be said of the opening scene, one that plays to its subversions while also pushing the narrative forward. Even the marketing (I only watched the first teaser) subverts expectations in a clever way.
Green and his co-writers, Paul Brad Logan, Chris Bernier, and Danny McBride, certainly swing for the fences with this final installment. It could have been an easy assignment, getting Laurie and Michael back together for one more throwdown, but they elected to take a different path, for better and worse. I’ll give credit where it’s due, Green and his team accomplish two tasks that most of the other sequels were too afraid to go for (I can’t get into either story point in a non-spoiler review), and that’s impressive. There’re two paths that the narrative takes, one of them the obvious continuance of the Laurie and Michael thread. That plot is disregarded for a while in favor of the new story path. I’m fine with that, but by the time it gets back around to this main path, so much time has been afforded to the alternate path and so little is focused on the Laurie and Michael story, leaving it as a bit of an afterthought. I really admire the new path, but I wish we’d had a more interesting story for Michael’s return to the narrative.
James Jude Courtney (Far and Away, When a Man Loves a Woman) again knocks it out of the park as The Shape/Michael Myers, and my hope is that he continues on with the role in the next reboot, but I feel that the film under-utilizes Myers. Going back to my earlier statement, I actually really like the other direction they go in, but I wish that Michael was more of a physical presence running concurrently to it. It’s interesting how light on violence the end product is, most of it cutting away outside of one or two really grisly moments, and I think that The Shape could have done more outside the inevitable.
I’m happy that a film called Halloween Ends has an actual ending to the saga of Laurie and Michael with a definitive closure, though I won’t go into any detail on that. The Ends in Halloween Ends is conclusive, and I’m happy that each of Green’s films have a cohesiveness but end up being very different films. I think a lot of us viewers tend to review films based on our expectations, critiquing based on the film we wanted and not the film we got (though if you hate the movie, I can understand). On rewatch my opinion hasn’t changed on the positives or the negatives, but here’s hoping the rumors of an extended cut are true, because I’d love more time in this world. This final (until the inevitable reboot) chapter won’t work for some, but I rather liked it, flaws and all.
-Kyle A. Goethe
For my review of John Carpenter’s Halloween, click here.
For my review of David Gordon Green’s Pineapple Express, click here.
For my review of David Gordon Green’s Your Highness, click here.